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Best Practices for DIF on Poinsettias

Read More >> This article was originally published by GrowerTalks.

Growing Impatiens More Safely—A Plant Pathologist’s View

One important lesson that we’ve learned together as an industry is how to manage bacterial blight disease of geraniums. We’ve figured out that exquisitely careful sanitation procedures are critical at the upper levels of production, with constant checking for any breaches in safety measures. We’ve learned that growers should keep geraniums from different suppliers separate, and should grow hybrid seed geraniums separately from the cutting-grown geraniums. We know it is the vegetatively-grown geraniums that bring the risk of introducing the dreaded Xanthomonas hortorum pv. pelargonii (or Ralstonia solanacearum) into the greenhouse. By separating the crops with the highest risk of disease from those with much less risk, the potential economic loss is minimized. Now we’re applying these same principles in…

Robotics, machine vision, and automation – The Future Reality of Flower Production

The new realityIt would be very hard to argue against the notion, that a wide range of technologies will lead to marked changes to horticultural production systems in the coming decades. Many (possibly all!) other industry sectors are facing the same reality:1) Automation – It is all about labor savings and efficiency!  Robots are becoming less expensive, smaller and lighter, more robust, easier to use and program, more agile – all leading to robots being able to solve more problems and handle a wider range of specific tasks.2) Batteries are lasting longer, faster to recharge, and less expensive – enabling airborne drones and ground-based rovers to operate longer and carry larger payloads. And, with longer battery life, there may be…

Smart Sensor for Measuring Plant Nitrogen Status of Floriculture Crops

Plant nitrogen (N) content affects the growth and quality of floriculture crops. The deficiency of N causes leaf yellowing and stunted growth. In many floriculture crop species, leaf yellowing is usually seen in the older leaves. However, this may not be the case in all species (see Fig. 1). Excess N levels result in undesirable shoot growth and increased susceptibility to insect pests. Figure 1. Poinsettia plants supplied with deficient (left) and sufficient (right) levels of nitrogen Greenhouse growers use several monitoring techniques like visual assessments, laboratory analysis, and sensors (e.g. substrate electrical conductivity) to ensure that floriculture crops are supplied with a sufficient amount of N during production. Small-scale growers often resort to visual assessments, mostly due to limited…

Growth Promotion by Bacteria-based Biostimulants

How can biostimulants promote growth and crop quality?The most common active ingredients in biostimulants are beneficial microorganisms (fungi and bacteria). These fungi and bacteria can increase the availability of essential macro and micronutrients that would otherwise be leached from the container. Increasing nutrient uptake and use efficiency improves plant health and tissue nutrient content while reducing the cost of fertilizer inputs.The result is larger plants with greener leaves and more developed root systems, as well as finished plants with more and/or larger flowers.Production timing may be reduced due to faster growth and earlier flowering. Growth promotion from biostimulant applications will be less obvious if plants are already growing under optimal water and fertility levels. Microbial-biostimulants can be used to reduce…

To LED or Not to LED

By Erik RunkleLight-emitting diodes (LEDs) have captured the interest of a lot of greenhouse growers as well as academics. One of the best ways to exploit this lighting technology is to grow young plants indoors. Here, we have full control of the growing environment. While LEDs have rapidly advanced, especially in the last five years, we still have more questions than answers. With support from American Floral Endowment, we have expanded our understanding of how different light wavebands (or colors) regulate growth. This includes plant architecture, leaf color, and flowering time across a range of floriculture species.Growing Indoor PlantsEarlier this year, we wrote a five-part series in GrowerTalks magazine, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Florida. In the…

Indoor Lighting for the Production of Floriculture Transplants

Erik Runkle, Michigan State UniversityAn exciting new way to produce floriculture crop seedlings and rooted cuttings (transplants) is indoors, where the environment can be controlled to produce uniform plants on demand. This growing technique enables control of the light spectrum using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to produce plants with desired attributes such as compact growth and early or late flowering, whichever is desired. We are currently in the second year of our project supported by the American Floral Endowment.Our team of students and research technicians is performing experiments in the Controlled Environment Lighting Laboratory (CELL). We are pleased to share our results to date through a five-part series of articles in GrowerTalks magazine. Below is a list of the article topics,…

AFE and e-Gro Partner on Webinars

We have partnered with e-Gro to present webinars focusing on new findings from AFE-funded research projects. The webinars are free. They aim to better communicate the results to growers and to share how to best implement the findings. They also allow for a greater number of managers and staff to hear this information first-hand.The new AFE/e-Gro webinars will be one hour in length with time for participants to ask specific questions of the researchers. They will complement the successful webinars that e-Gro is already conducting and provide greater resources for growers.The first webinar, “New Daily Light Integral Maps and Advances in Supplemental Lighting for Ornamentals” is slated for November 2nd from Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern.Presenters Jim Faust, Clemson University…

AFE-Funded Researchers Go Face to Face with Thrips

Sound scientific research has guided many of the flower crop production and postharvest handling practices used by growers, wholesalers, supermarkets and retail outlets today. AFE realizes that research you support must have direct value to each of you and to your companies.Assuring that research is relevant to flower production begins with making sure that researchers are familiar and see first-hand the conditions upon which their results will be used. During the first week of October, three accomplished thrips researchers accompanied me to Medellin, Colombia to visit flower farms. These researchers included JC Chong of Clemson University and Margaret Skinner and Bruce Parker of the University of Vermont.In late 2016, we also took AFE-funded Botrytis researchers to flower farms. The following…

Botrytis, Meet Calcium

By: JC Chong, Clemson UniversityWe pack our carts with the best crop of bedding plants ever, or our boxes with the best cut roses, only to receive a call from our customers rejecting the shipment because of gray mold. Botrytis meltdown is a huge problem during shipment because high humidity in sealed shipping carts or containers is just what Botrytis needs to cause an outbreak.With funding from AFE, Jim Faust and his graduate student Kathie Bennett (Clemson University) studied the potential of reducing Botrytis meltdown on petunia flowers with pre-shipment sprays of calcium chloride. Kathie sprayed four concentrations of calcium chloride (at 0, 400, 800 and 1,200 ppm) over two weeks before the expected shipping date. She infected the flowers…