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New Banker Plant Research Identifies Environmentally-Friendly Pest Management Tactics

Parasitoid ‘stinging’ an aphid to insert an egg that will develop into a new parasitoid (left) and a typical banker plant system using biological controls to eliminate pesticide usage at a commercial greenhouse in North Carolina.AFE has new research that proves once again how Murder, Sex and Greed align with floriculture.North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers describe how aphids can be managed (murder) by releasing the parasitoid wasp Aphidius colemani in Optimizing Banker Plant Systems for Aphid Biological Control in Floriculture Greenhouses, Research Report #217. This report explains how using banker plants is an environmentally friendly way to sustain the parasitoid with alternative hosts, removing the need to repeatedly purchase new parasitoids.“Aphids can murder profits for growers, wholesalers and retailers…

AFE Research Helps Address Common Gerbera Concern

Scape bending of ‘Testarrosa’ was eliminated when stems were supported during hydration (left).For satisfied floral customers, cut flowers need to have high quality and a long vase life, but bending of the scape (stalk) is a major postharvest issue that can leave flowers unmarketable and customers unsatisfied. AFE funded researchers from the University of Florida screened 14 gerbera varieties for scape bending, flower quality and vase life.Reducing Scape Bending in the Gerbera Daisy, Research Report #454 includes the following best practices to eliminate scape bending:Choose varieties that are less susceptible to scape bending or that easily recover. (Most susceptible varieties included Guarda, Fiction, Pink Elegance, Primrose, Sonata, Teresa and Testarrosa)Avoid storing cut gerbera and never store in boxes.Unpack immediately, cut…

Alluring and Murdering Thrips With New Research

A) Marigold guardian plant system in a test greenhouse. B) Thrips lure on sticky card (red arrow).AFE is still up to murder, sex and greed, this time with a new research report. In the report, scientists from the Entomology Research Laboratory at the University of Vermont (UVM) describe how they allured and then murdered western flower thrips through an inexpensive non-chemical pesticide system that is easy to use.Thrips are deadly for ornamentals, causing substantial economic loss by damaging flowers and leaves or transmitting plant viruses, and most chemical insecticides have proven to be ineffective at controlling thrips. Report #216: Formulations of Insect-Killing Fungi in Combination with Plant-Mediated Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Systems for Thrips describes an innovative strategy that uses…

Floriculture InfoSearch Puts Decades of Info at Your Fingertips

Industry members now have online access to a comprehensive floriculture library containing information that may have been previously unavailable. AFE has partnered with North Carolina State University (NCSU) to create the Floriculture InfoSearch Engine, a powerful search engine for convenient and comprehensive access to floriculture literature, videos and presentations.The website also contains a floriculture archive with materials from AFE, NCSU, scientific journals and trade publications, all of which is accessible and searchable through one website.“We want to thank a couple of floriculture pack rats, George Staby and Harold Wilkins, for opening their files to us and several industry groups and magazines for allowing us to scan and enter their articles,” project leader and NCSU Horticultural Science Department Head John Dole,…

Greenhouse Grower Donates Charity Competition Win to AFE

BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals created a friendly rivalry with greenhouse industry trade magazine editors this year at the OFA Short Course in Columbus, Ohio, and AFE is $1,000 richer as a result.The company organized a special Media Pyramid for Charity game in their booth at the show on July 15. Editors and publishers from Greenhouse Grower, Grower Talks, GPN and Greenhouse Management magazines answered questions and earned $500 for their charity of choice just for participating. If more than four questions were answered correctly, BASF added additional money.Robin Siktberg, editor of Greenhouse Grower magazine, and her partner, Bob West, director of interactive sales, won the competition for the second year in a row, earning a total of $1,000 for…

Understand Downy and Powdery Mildews with AFE Reports

AFE  has released two new research reports to help the industry better respond to downy mildew and powdery mildews:Understanding Coleus Downy Mildew: Special Research Report #134Understanding Gerbera Powdery Mildew: Special Research Report #135Blair Harlan and Mary Hausbeck, Ph.D., from Michigan State University examine downy mildew on coleus, a colorful bedding plant, in Report 134. Downy mildew can leave plants unmarketable, so the researchers have proposed an integrated pest management program to help growers produce high-quality coleus crops that are untouched by downy mildew.The gerbera daisy industry in the U.S. is booming, as highlighted in Report 135, but powdery mildew on gerberas threatens profits. Leah Granke, Ph.D., from Michigan State University and Mary Hausbeck, Ph.D, examine the effects of environmental factors…

Grow with AFE Resources!

AFE has a wealth of resources available to help students and established industry professionals alike. Did you know that AFE offers more than 150 online research reports for free to the industry? These research reports focus on important industry issues, like:Detecting and managing pests and diseases.Refining watering and nutrition practices.Notably improving plant and flower quality.Providing total management systems for air and soil borne floriculture crop diseases.You can use this website to find other tools too, like an extensive and continuously updated Impatiens downy mildew resource list.Additionally, AFE’s intern scholarship programs give the industry the opportunity to host pre-screened, competent students with a passion for production. While receiving knowledgeable students, you’ll be giving back by providing the hands-on experience necessary to…

Using Multiple Pesticides: Ensuring Positive Effects

Using multiple pesticides together to prevent a broader spectrum of pests is common in the floriculture industry, but it can be difficult confirming those pesticide mixtures are beneficial and safe for plants. Researchers A.L. Willmott, R.A. Cloyd and K.Y. Zhu from Kansas State University aim to better inform the industry about pesticide mixtures in a research report recently released by AFE.“This research will help keep growers from using mixtures that are a waste of time and money and will result in crop damage,” Cloyd said. “This will help them determine which combinations to use, and they may not have to make as many applications.”Cloyd said that pesticides were once broad and “killed just about everything,” but pesticides produced since the 2000s…

New Research Inspires Profitability and Sustainability

A research report released by AFE addresses how the floriculture industry can use efficient irrigation practices to increase profitability and sustainability in a time when concerns about water scarcity, runoff regulations and the high cost of fertilizer are commonplace. Researchers Alem Peter, Paul Thomas and Marc van Iersel from the University of Georgia and Stephanie Burnett from the University of Maine examined how fertilizer and water levels affect growth. While the research focuses on petunias, it is translatable to almost any greenhouse plant.“By implementing more efficient irrigation practices, growers can reduce the amount of fertilizer they need to apply, and that is going to help their bottom line as well as the environment,” van Iersel, the lead researcher, said. He…

New AFE Research Report: Enhancing the Quality of Fresh Cut Flowers

AFE has released a new research report: Innovative Packaging Technologies to Enhance the Quality of Fresh Cut Flowers, Research Report #452.This research—conducted by Thomas J. Gianfagna, Kit L. Yam and George J. Wulster from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—demonstrates ways to optimize storage conditions for fresh cut flowers, like roses and snapdragons, and examines systems to prevent disease development. These improvements in post-harvest longevity could increase customer satisfaction and lower shipping costs without decreasing flower quality. Improvements in the distribution and packaging of fresh cut flowers would benefit everyone in the post-production chain.This website contains more than 150 additional free research reports covering other topics about fresh cut flowers and more:Disease ManagementInsect ManagementBreeding & GeneticsPost ProductionProduction TechnologySpecialty Research Consumer…