2016 International Plant Propagation Society Southern Region Annual Meeting Highlights

I just got back from the IPPS-Southern Region meeting and had some great tours of some surrounding farms near our meeting site of Virginia Beach.  We also had lecture time to share what we are innovatively doing and protocols for production.  Here are some of the observations that I thought were interesting from the field....
Pot-in-pot production with drip for larger materials.  

Boxwood blight is a real problem in the Northeast.  We needed to protect the nurseries we visited with strict protocols such as wearing foot booties so no soil would be moved to other places.

A picture of a large cell, liner trays that are used for stepping up material

A home-made contraption for unrolling cold-frame coverings mounted on a fork lift.

This nursery uses guys on sheet rock stilts to perform structural pruning tasks.

These guys are using a jig made from a flexible plastic board to space plants.  The piece has a spacer (metal bar) for distance between rows and lines on the board for where plants should be placed in-row.

An interesting application for a garage door as an entrance in a greenhouse setting. This allows for pushing a button and opening the door for entry.  The springs and motor are enclosed in a gear box to protect from the elements.

Shipping plants holding a board to keep plants from moving using a simple angle iron and vice-grips.

Mum trials on capillary mats for water savings and quality improvements.

Latest Pest Update

Here is the latest Pest Update for ornamental growers.  I would like to give credit to Lee Bloomcamp from Syngenta for taking the time to provide this information for growers.

Disease Issues

Leaf spots are prevalent now, as foliage ages and dies off.  Unless plants are going to be sold soon, treatment for foliar diseases is unnecessary, especially for deciduous plants.  Most leaf spot disease have long life cycles, and treating affected foliage now may not reduce leaf spot appearance.  Use a systemic fungicide as a drench to protect new growth as it emerges for better long term control, and use fungicides preventatively to keep infection from occurring.

Powdery mildew is active, recently seen on Mexican petunia, verbena, Gerber daisies, goldenrod, snapdragons, and crape myrtle.  This disease like cooler weather, with high humidity.  Scout regularly and maintain a preventative fungicide application program on vulnerable crops.  Mural, Palladium and Concert II are all very effective against  powdery mildew and leaf spots, other good choices for PM include Milstop, Eagle, and Phyton 27.

Downy Mildew is also showing up.  Salvias, basil, roses, coleus, and viburnum are some of the primary victims.  Downy mildew is systemic, meaning that it lurks in the plant until conditions are right for spore production.  That’s why fungicides are best used preventatively, curative rescue applications are often too little, too late for this fast-moving disease.  Limiting leaf wetting, increased spacing and airflow, and removal of severely infected plants is also important.

Phytophthora, Volutella and other systemic stem and root diseases continue to be a problem across Florida.  Extreme summer heat and the need for lots of irrigation are contributing factors.  In woody plants and some herbaceous material, cutting in to the stem tissue can help with diagnosis- discolored tissue indicates possible Phomopsis, Volutella or other die-back diseases like Phyllosticta  and Pestalotiopsis.  Roots are often unaffected.  With Phytophthora, roots are often discolored, and little to no evidence is found in woody tissue.  Segovis is an outstanding addition to phythophthora rotations- fully systemic, drench and foliar applications, low use rates and a 4 hour REI.  Bacterial disease symptoms can look like both.  Consider getting a disease analysis done if problems are severe, as a number of things can cause general dieback associated with these diseases. Specific fungicides and cultural controls are needed, and time and money can be wasted on the wrong products and techniques!

Sanitation is key to disease prevention- clean up old, diseased leaves and cuttings to reduce inoculum, and be ready to treat new growth as soon as it appears.  This is when many disease cycles begins, even if damage doesn’t appear until  foliage has matured.  Send samples off for diagnosis if problems are persistent.  Knowing the disease involved helps to determine the best timing, cultural controls and fungicides for preventative applications.

I am also seeing secondary foliar symptoms that look like disease but are related to nutritional issues.  Summer weather can deplete nutrients in even the best slow release fertilizers, and some micronutrient deficiencies can result from extreme soil pH conditions, and look like disease problems.  Proper diagnosis of the problem leads to a quicker resolution- did I mention this already?

Insects and Mites

Caterpillars are evident in many crops this time of year.  Species like Fall Armyworm, European Pepper moth and Cutworms have spring and fall population peaks, so check plants like ferns, poinsettias, bedding plants, gingers and other herbaceous perennials for caterpillar damage.  Webbing, droppings and foliage damage at the soil line are good indicators.  If uncertain, take the entire plant and soil out of the pot, and break it up into a bucket of water.  Larvae, pupae, webbing and other debris will float to the surface for easy ID.

Water floatation is also a good way to survey for Azalea root weevil, and Flea beetle grubs, which often attack the roots of the same plants that host adults feeding on foliage. Grower feedback on Mainspring GNL for caterpillar and flea beetle control has been very good, looks like we have another tool for these pests!  Mainspring GNL is labeled for foliar and drench applications, is systemic, and also has a 4 hour REI.

(Disclaimer-Mention of a commercial or herbicide brand name or chemical does not constitute a recommendation or warranty of the product by the authors or the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, nor does it imply its approval to the exclusion of other products that may also be suitable. Products should be used according to label instructions and safety equipment required on the label and by federal or state law should be employed. Pesticide registrations may change, so it is the responsibility of the user to ascertain if a pesticide is registered by the appropriate state and federal agencies for its intended use.)

New WPS Rules Take Effect in January

The Worker Protection Standard Rules will be changing January 2, 2017 and everyone that has been trained as a trainer will need to be re-certified in a Train-the-Trainer Training class.  If you are a Private Applicator you can still train workers and handlers but you should know what the new rules are as there are some significant rule changes taking place. Hillsborough County Extension will be conducting a class on November  10, 2016 at the Florida Strawberry Growers’ Association office located at 13138 Lewis Gallagher Rd, Dover, FL to update you on rule changes. The class will be from 1:00 -4:30 pm.  If you are a Private Applicator we will have 4 CEUs available in the Private category.  If you would like to attend please give Alicia Whidden a call at 813-744-5519 ext 54134.  The class will cost $25.00 and will include refreshments and printed materials.


AgVenture Needs Generous Growers

Were you ever inspired as a kid, by someone who loved their career?  Have you ever thought that you might be that person who would inspire someone on a new career trajectory?

Hillsborough County Farm Bureau and Tampa Chapter FNGLA will be trying to inspire children in third grade with a program called AgVenture.  Kids from all over Hillsborough will go to the state fair grounds and learn about different facets of agriculture, including Environmental Horticulture.  The only problem is that very few growers (FNGLA and Farm Bureau Members) ever want to leave their nursery for a few hours and teach kids about what they do.  I hope that you might consider giving a few hours of your time to help out this worthy program.  A free lunch is included after you are done teaching.  The lesson is a script and all the materials are already lined up.  Here is the information below.

They need volunteers at the Florid State Fairgrounds from Oct 24-28 & Oct 31 - Nov 4.  Hours each day are 10:00am - 12:35pm.

- teach students about growing plants for environmental horticulture
- there is a script you can use and demo material will be on site
- students rotate in groups every 20-30 minutes

Several of us have volunteered in years past; however, I know everyone is swamped at the moment.  If you can help or know someone who can, please contact 
Judi  Whitson