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AFE On the Road

The AFE team has been busy the past few weeks! From North Carolina, to California, our staff has been busy from coast to coast attending floral industry events, networking, and planning for the future! Staying connected with the industry allows us to see first-hand the impact of our programs and research, and allows us to hear directly from industry members about the challenges they’re facing so we can adapt our programs to help.  Read on to learn more about all of the AFE staff adventures so far in 2024! AFE Board Meeting and NC State Tour Twice a year, the AFE Board meets in person to engage in strategic discussions and review past, present, and upcoming initiatives, charting the course…

Altering Petunia Development Rate to Improve Cutting Yield and Crop Production Efficiency

Researchers at Michigan State University, funded by AFE, are exploring how to breed new varieties and improve petunia crop to make production more efficient. This project is working to understand the genetic materials of different petunia varieties, and evaluate their development and performance to maximize efficiency. Read more below, and explore our other currently funded projects here. The rate at which plants produce new nodes is a fundamental trait with numerous implications for ornamental crop production. The benefits of understanding the genetic regulation of development rate and being able to manipulate development rate in the breeding of new cultivars include: 1) Reduction in crop production time:  Crop production time for annual bedding plants is a function of the rate of development,…

The Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation Joins with the American Floral Endowment 

Amplifying Floriculture Research Advancements The American Floral Endowment (AFE) and the Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation are pleased to announce a new partnership and joining of forces promoting a shared vision of cultivating and funding innovation, advancements, and growth through floriculture research. Through this partnership, the American Floral Endowment will provide a new home for the Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation, transitioning the Foundation to a new fund within AFE. The new Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation Research Fund will continue the Foundation's current mission of providing a source of funding for research and education in floriculture while maintaining its robust history. The Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation Research Fund complements AFE's research efforts and amplifies floriculture growth through combining efforts, ultimately resulting in more significant achievements and…

AFE’s Adventure at North Carolina State University: Research and Scholarships in Action

Picture this: a group of industry leaders from AFE’s Board of Trustees and Staff embarking on a journey to North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh, NC, for our board and committee meetings, along with a university tour. The trip provided us with the opportunity to spend some time with faculty and students who directly benefit from the Endowment’s programs. Twice a year, the Endowment Board meets in person to engage in strategic discussions and review past, present, and upcoming initiatives, charting the course for the future. The meetings provide for direct industry engagement and feedback on AFE’s programs. This February, however, held an extra special treat—a tour of NCSU and the chance to witness firsthand the impact of AFE’s…

Building On a Legacy

As I sit here typing this article, I’m struggling to find the words to convey just how honored and excited I am to be leading the American Floral Endowment’s research program. I’m humbled to follow in the footsteps of the remarkable Dr. Terril Nell, and I know I have some big shoes to fill, quite literally! Since August 2022, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Terril, whose dedication and passion have left an enduring mark on me, AFE, and the floral industry as a whole. I know that Terril has personally touched many of you reading this article. His mentorship and guidance have been invaluable, and I am profoundly grateful for the foundation he has laid. I am…

Developing a Screening Pipeline for the Identification of Phosphorus-Solubilizing Bacteria

By Juan Quijia Pillajo, Sachin Naik, and Michelle Jones Phosphorus (P) is an essential nutrient with low availability for plant uptake. High media pH levels can cause the formation of insoluble compounds with calcium (Ca). Phosphorus solubilizing bacteria (PSB) can enhance P availability for plant uptake by producing organic acids to acidify the rhizosphere. The identification of PSBs requires both in-vitro and in-planta evaluations. In-vitro protocols allow for the screening of extensive bacterial collections, but the number of bacterial isolates that can be tested in the greenhouse is limited by the amount of space and time required to evaluate the plant responses to PSB inoculation. Digital phenotyping is an emerging tool for high throughput and precise evaluation of plant performance…

Botrytis Control in Greenhouses

Botrytis can cause devastating losses during production, shipping, and in retail. An Integrated Pest IPM approach is necessary to manage Botrytis successfully and it is critical for growers to have alternative control methods to use in rotation with fungicides to prevent resistance. Microbial biopesticides are an IPM tool for controlling disease while mitigating fungicide resistance risk. Adoption of biopesticides in production is growing but their variable performance under commercial conditions is still a challenge. Advances in biopesticide research reveal that they work best when used in combination with other strategies. Several natural compounds have been found to enhance biopesticide efficacy with significant implications for IPM. In our previous AFE-funded research, we found that chitosan reduced symptoms caused by Botrytis on petunia…

Newly Released! Grow Pro 2024 Lineup

Free monthly webinars featuring ground-breaking research! The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has released the first six months for the 2024 monthly Grow Pro Webinar Series. In these free webinars, nationally recognized researchers, hosts, and speakers offer ‘how-to’ advice based on AFE-funded and other research projects to help the industry navigate through ever-changing growing challenges. “These educational training sessions are directly impactful to industry businesses, and the information shared can be implemented immediately. We have taken input directly from the industry to shape the 2024 sessions ensuring that these continue to be valuable resources covering emerging challenges and new advancements,” noted Laura Barth, AFE’s Research Coordinator. Here’s some direct industry feedback collected through anonymous surveys at the end of each session showing the impact…

Controlling Whitefly on Poinsettia

Unfortunately, poinsettia and sweet potato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) go together like cats and fleas; if you have one, you’ll have the other. By this time (June) you should already be considering your whitefly management strategy. Here, we make a case for biocontrol as both a viable and economical way to control whitefly based on leading research supported by the American Floral Endowment (AFE) and many years of grower experience in Canada. The Problem with Pesticides Management of Bemisia whiteflies with pesticides can be difficult, if not impossible, in some years. This is because whiteflies that originate on cuttings (and those that fly in from field crops, as in the Southern US) have likely been exposed to multiple applications of several groups of…

Farewell Letter from Retiring Research Director, Dr. Terril Nell

Industry colleagues and friends,  As many of you may know, I will be retiring from AFE at the end of 2023. At the threshold of a new chapter in my life, my heart fills with gratitude for the incredible journey I’ve had in the floral industry. Looking back, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the profound impact AFE has had on my life and career. Unwavering grant support, the platform to explore innovative and impactful research, and lifelong collaboration with those in our vibrant community have helped shape me into the person I am today. It has been a privilege to serve and contribute to an industry that breathes this kind of life, beauty, and camaraderie into the world.…