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Mary Hausbeck - Floriculture/Horticulture Research

Mary Hausbeck
Michigan State University

AFE has approved more than $280,000 in floriculture/horticulture research project funding for 2014-2015 to support five continuing projects, five new projects and the Gus Poesch Research Fund.
“AFE research covers expansive topics that help address and solve critical industry issues,” said Eric Nissen of Sunshine State Carnations, Inc. and AFE Production and Post-Harvest Research Committee Chairman. “These projects will all provide useful information that will enable the entire floral industry to become more productive and profitable.”
The goal of all AFE research is to provide knowledge that helps the industry grow stronger and more profitable.

Disease Management

  • Managing Pythium Species in Floriculture Irrigation Water: Dr. Mary Hausbeck, Michigan State University, $40,000 (year one of three)

Research significance: While this research is most largely focused on grower concerns, water quality and availability are issues all segments of the industry will likely face in the future. This research looks ahead and attempts to address some of those concerns, especially in regards to removing water molds that negatively affect plant health from irrigation water.

Insect Management

  • Integrated Control of Western Flower Thrips: Dr. Steven Frank, North Carolina State University, $18,900 (year two of two)
  • Beneficial Fungal Endophytes for Effective Insect Management in Floricultural Crops: Dr. Kevin Heinz, Texas A&M University, $33,000 (year two of three)

Research significance: Frank’s project addresses western flower thrips, one of the most damaging greenhouse pests in the world and a serious problem for producers. Infestations also impact demand and profits for retailers and wholesalers, as well as leave consumers unsatisfied. The information gleaned from Frank’s project will serve as a useful tool for every segment of the industry.

Gul Shad Ali - Floriculture/Horticulture Research

Gul Shad Ali, Ph.D.
University of Florida

Plant Breeding and Genetic Engineering

  • Gene Mining in Impatiens for Resistance to Infection by the Downy Mildew Pathogen, Plasmopara Obducens: Dr. Gul Shad Ali, Dr. Aaron Palmateer and Dr. Tamer Kahveci, University of Florida, $29,000 (year one of one)
  • Development of Petunia with Enhanced Stress Tolerance: Dr. Nicole Waterland, West Virginia University, $19,000 (year one of two)

Research significance: Because of impatiens downy mildew, impatiens has fallen from a popular bedding plant to one in jeopardy. Consumers and retailers have grown fond of the plant but now may not have access to it because of the devastating effects of downy mildew. Ali’s project involves the discovery of resistance genes, which when transferred to impatiens will reduce losses caused by downy mildew, benefiting all industry levels. This method reduces the use of fungicides and should result in overall increased profitability for growers.

Post Production

  • New and Potent Inhibitors of Ethylene Action for Improving Cut Flower Longevity: Dr. Rasika Dias, The University of Texas at Arlington, $24,200 (year one of two)
  • Innovative Packaging Technologies to Enhance the Quality of Fresh Cut Flowers: Dr. Thomas Gianfagna, Rutgers, $10,300 (year one of one)

Research significance: Ethylene poses an issue to various industry segments because it can cause undesirable effects in a range of ornamentals, including carnations, roses, potted greenery, cut flowers and more. The research Dias will conduct is proactive and aims to better understand the ethylene-copper ion interaction and to prevent ethylene problems before they become worse nuisances to the industry.

Mark Bridgen - Floriculture/Horticulture Research

Mark Bridgen, Ph.D.
Cornell University

Production Technology

  • Utilization of Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) Irradiation on Ornamental Plants for Disease Suppression, Growth Regulation and Extended Post-Harvest Longevity: Dr. Mark Bridgen, Cornell University, $18,700 (year two of three)
  • Post-Shipping/Storage Solutions for Recovery and Rooting of Unrooted Cuttings: Dr. John Dole, NCSU, $31,900 (year two of two)
  • Development and Evaluation of Various Biochars as Aggregates for Increasing Substrate pH Stability: Dr. Brian Jackson, NCSU, $28,000 (year two of three)

Research significance: Bridgen’s work could offer a nondestructive technique that reduces plant height and increases branching similar to a plant growth regulator, benefiting the industry as a whole and retailers especially. Nondestructive efforts, like the use of ultraviolet light, are key because they control diseases and extend the crop’s life in a non-damaging way.

Michelle Jones - Floriculture/Horticulture Research

Michelle Jones, Ph.D.
The Ohio State University

Gus Poesch Research Fund for The Ohio State University (2013-2014)

  • Online Tool for Insect Forecast and Control: Dr. Luis Canas, $12,200
  • Basic and Applied Production and Post Production Training for Future Floriculture Faculty: Dr. Michelle Jones, $12,900
  • Floriculture Industry Roundtable of Ohio: Dr. Claudio Pasian, $2,000

Research projects can last from one to three years and any reasonable but justifiable budget will be considered. Pre-proposal applications are available on the AFE website and are due by June 1 each year.
AFE’s Production and Post-Harvest Research Committee has identified three high priority floriculture/horticulture research areas for the 2015-2016 pre-proposal cycle that are relevant to all segments of the floral industry:

  • Control of Botrytis, not only during production but also during post-production
  • Control of leaf miners in all susceptible fresh cut flowers and potted plants
  • Specific post-production practices that include transportation requirements