NEWS on the GROW

Are you an active member of OFA – an Association of Floriculture Professionals? I hope so, because I believe if floriculture is your profession, you should be a member of OFA. I’m not saying that because I’m already involved; I’m saying that because the other OFA members I’ve met all across the country have told me an OFA membership is a great way to support the industry. Plus, the network of peers, the educational opportunities and the access to industry information all end up being worth far more than your membership dues ever cost.

However, there are thousands of floriculture professionals who should be members but aren’t. Join us and get connected through OFA — and help actively support and promote education in the floriculture industry, because we all benefit.
In fact, as an OFA member, you’re eligible to be an on OFA committee and impact OFA programs and activities throughout the year, including the Short Course. You can join one of the many committees, which are all made up of your industry peers and lend your expertise to our programs. For more information, contact Laura Kunkle at [email protected]

Here’s a short list of OFA member benefits:

  • Peer-to-peer networking.

  • Listing in and personal copy of the OFA Resource Directory.

  • E-Bulletin with industry/OFA news.

  • Bi-monthly OFA Bulletin subscription.

  • Discount on Florists’ Review for florist members.

  • Discounts to OFA Short Course, tours, schools and other educational events.

  • 20-percent discount on all OFA Tips… books, including the new Tips on Operating a Profitable Greenhouse, available through the Ball Bookshelf, plus a discount on all Ball Publishing titles (

  • Access to the APPI Savings Solution Program that identifies ways to reduce energy costs.

  • Worker’s compensation group rating program (Ohio members).

  • Access to “members-only” section of

  • Web access to research abstracts from the American Society of Horticultural Science journals.

Q Biotype Whitefly Found

Q Biotype whitefly, a highly resistant strain of whitefly that is indistinguishable from silverleaf whitefly, was found on poinsettias at a retail outlet in Arizona recently. The suspect plant was traced back to a nursery in California, and testing confirmed Q Biotype whitefly at the nursery, according to Nolan Lemon, APHIS spokesperson. We have heard that the nursery is now quarantined but could not confirm that it is unable to ship. We did, however, confirm that The Arizona Department of Agriculture has restricted importation of plant product coming from that nursery.

GPN obtained the executive order from the Arizona Department of Agriculture regarding this restriction. It states, “This Order is issued to mitigate an immediate risk of infestation of the whitefly known as Bemisia tabaci Biotype Q from any infested California facility. Bemisia tabaci Biotype Q is not known to occur in the United States except in a limited area in California.”

According to John Caravetta, associate director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, “There is only one [nursery as of press time]. This [order] provides balance and flexibility in that if other operations are further determined through the survey process to have an infestation then those operations would automatically be excluded from Arizona from shipping plant material.”

Lemon informed us that APHIS, as of press time, is not testing any nurseries in California for the Q Biotype whitefly, but the California Department of Food and Agriculture may be.

Because of an ongoing research project to test whitefly resistance levels, researchers from the University of Arizona Extension Arthropod Resistance Management Laboratory were collecting whiteflies at a retail outlet in Tucson, Ariz. Once in the lab, it was discovered that whiteflies collected at this location were highly resistant to insecticides. Further testing, which was confirmed by three separate labs, identified the strain as the Q Biotype of Bemisia tabaci. Until this report, the Q Biotype had never been found in the United States.

The Q Biotype originates in the Mediterranean region and has been associated with whitefly control problems in Spain, Israel, Morocco and Egypt. It has recently also been detected in China, Japan and The Netherlands. Q Biotype so closely resembles the B Biotype that the two are indistinguishable even under a microscope. The only way to tell the difference between the two biotypes is through extensive chemical and DNA testing.

The immediate significance of the Q Biotype is that it has unusually low susceptibility to many of the key insecticides currently used to control whitefly. University of Arizona researcher Tim Dennehy’s laboratory has tested the resistance of Q Biotype against pyriproxyfen (Distance) on eggs and imidacloprid (Marathon), thiamethoxam (Flagship) and ace-tamiprid (Tristar) on adults.

Problems have arisen in Southern Europe due to the lack of control methods. “Most of the materials in Southern Europe have been lost,” said Lance Osborne, professor of entomology at the University of Florida “Some of the neonicitinoids are having trouble with the exception of the (newly registered) Safari.”

“We have known for 2-3 years that a resistant strain of silverleaf whitefly had emerged in Europe,” said Jim Barrett, professor of floriculture at University of Florida and GPN’s consulting editor. “We can hope that this particular outbreak is isolated and does not become established; however, the fact that this Q Biotype has been located now in several other regions of the world, indicates that it is spreading and that it will only be a matter of time before it does become established in the United States. For growers, especially in the West, who develop whitefly problems this spring, it is important to monitor population levels more closely than in the past. Growers should not just treat with a standard chemical and assume the problem is solved.”

We will be updating you on this story in our newsletter GPN Weekly (go to to subscribe) as well as in future issues of GPN.

Pest Management Conference

After being in Southern Florida for about a week in January for TPIE, I just hadn’t had enough of the Sunshine State. So, I headed back down — this time to Orlando — at the end of February for SAF’s Pest Management Conference. This event is one of my favorites; I love the topic, so this conference hits the spot.

The conference started with really great tours of two very different operations: Deroose Plants, Apopka, Fla., and Bradford Botanicals, Zellwood, Fla. Deroose Plants, producer of bromeliads and other potted plants, caught the eyes and attention of many of the attendees with its highly automated facility. Its Belgium ties were apparent in the fairly newly construction. And, the fact that it buys in all of its materials (media, automation, pots, etc.) from Belgium made attendees debate: Is the cost worth it?

The next stop was Bradford Botanicals, a foliage grower — mostly spath, dieffenbachia, etc. This stop was your more typical Florida foliage Á
grower in regards to its structures and product offering. Ned Bradford, co-owner, addressed the attendees about how different Bradford was compared to Deroose, commenting that his method and structure has worked for many years. And, while most attendees agreed with Bradford that a Deroose-type facility would be heaven, our industry is filled with level heads who know their limits.

Of course, the conference didn’t disappoint. The show always hosts a great group of presenters, researchers and chemical/control companies covering those pests that are torturing growers around the country: Botrytis, fungus gnats, root rots, aphids, thrips, fusarium, etc. It’s also a good time for us to see and catch up with many of our GPN authors.

I always have my ears open to hear what industry folks are saying, and I heard from quite a few researchers and extension agents that money is dwindling. Researchers are always on the hunt for funding. But, it seems that states and federal funds are not where they used to be. We don’t want to lose these resources; keep using your extension agents and research information.

I’d like to thank SAF for a very informative few days. I look forward to it every year and am excited about 2006. — Carrie Burns

Bush Discusses Immigration

President Bush met with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in March in Texas to discuss the topic of immigration policy and the guest worker program.

According to an article in the New York Times, “Bush promised leaders of Mexico and Canada that he would continue pressing for changes in U.S. immigration policy. At the same time, he sought to lower expectations that a guest worker program would gain momentum on Capitol Hill, where it has faced resistance for years.” With all of the hard work this industry has been doing in the past couple of years, this was not the best news we have heard lately.

Bush was quoted in the article, saying, “‘you don’t have my pledge that Congress will act, because I’m not a member of the legislative branch,’ Bush continued. ‘But you will have my pledge that I will continue to push our Congress to come up with rational, commonsense immigration policy.’”

Currently, Republicans are split over the immigration issue because some of the more conservative party leaders are looking for “stricter border controls, and other moderates [are] supporting the administration’s call to give some illegal immigrants amnesty after they have been in the country for at least three years,” the article stated.

The purpose of the meeting between the three leaders was to discuss national security, immigration and environmental policy in order to increase economic cooperation, said New York Times.

Fox stated in the article, “‘We are seeking an objective balance between the concerns that have to do with security and those that have to do with having a good and agile flow of goods and people across the borders,’ Fox said through an interpreter.”

“As for concrete results from the Texas summit, Fox said that a dozen working groups would convene over the next three months to address the issues the leaders had discussed. ‘All of us have a sense of urgency,’ he said, ticking off energy, education, technology, security and natural resources as among their top issue priorities,” said the article.

The Flower Fields
Alive and Kicking

A major direction change for The Flower Fields program of Yoder Brothers and the Ecke Ranch was announced recently. Bill Rasbach, president of Yoder Brothers, and Paul Ecke, CEO of the Ecke Ranch, have outlined how The Flower Fields program has refocused on supporting grower and retailer brands.

“The biggest change is we have stopped talking about us and our ability to have our program influence consumer purchase; the reality is the true brands are happening with growers and with retailers,” said Rasbach. “We feel the role of The Flower Fields is to support those programs; we are the brand behind the brand!”

Ecke added, “We have always been supportive of using our trademark and tag support with other programs. We are now making this brand support the major part of our market push. I feel strongly that the retailer is the brand, that our Flower Fields will best serve retailers and growers by supporting the programs offered by innovative businesses.”

Changes to The Flower Fields program include the more active support of using Flower Fields products and trademarks on existing labeling programs in addition to using the program as a stand-alone presence. All tags and POP material may be ordered separately and may be customized with retailer or grower brands. Christine Kelleher, marketing manager for Yoder went into detail, “I like to think of The Flower Fields as an a la carte menu, you can order plant tags and support signage in a wide range of choices; use our images and logos or not; we will support whatever is best for the customer.”

On the topic of plant material, The Flower Fields continues to have a wide assortment of top-selling annuals and perennials. Between the collections of Ecke and Yoder there are more than 1,000 cultivars with genetics suitable for any region of the country. During Pack Trials, the two companies introduced more than 100 new items to support growers and retailers who are looking for an advantage in the marketplace.

Depth ResearchM

Dr. Bill Miller recently reported that his research at Cornell University has shown planting depth is a major factor in how well bare-root perennials perform. The research has found that planting Á bare-root crowns at or slightly above the soil surface results in much better growth and performance as compared to when crowns are planted below the soil surface. Deep-planted roots typically grow much more slowly and with less vigor.

Miller recommends growers carefully review planting practices with crews and consider the effects of how container transportation and handling procedures after planting might affect final crown depth. The research was conducted with the support of the Royal Dutch Wholesalers’ Association for Flowerbulbs and Nursery Stock (KBGBB) in Hillegom, The Netherlands.

A full report of the results is available at the Flowerbulb Research Program Web site at, under “recent publications.” Additionally, there is a printable pictorial guide to several bare-root crowns and examples of proper planting depth, as determined by the research. Contact Bill Miller at [email protected] for more information.

Medicinal Compound Becomes Fungicide

Many fruit and ornamental growers may have found the newest thing in defense for fighting destructive fungi, due to some research from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Mississippi (UM) scientists who have been able to transform a medicinal compound into an agricultural fungicide.

The naturally occurring compound, called sampangine, was first patented by UM in 1990 as a treatment for human fungal infections. It was never released pharmaceutically.

“Now, plant pathologist David Wedge of ARS’ Natural Products Utilization Research Unit and UM associate professor Dale Nagle have been issued a patent for sampangine and similar, related compounds for broad-spectrum, low-toxicity control of fungal plant pathogens that threaten agriculture,” ARS stated.

The ARS said that according to the new patent — US No. 6,844,353 — sampangine-based compounds can control such fungi as Botrytis cinerea; Colletotrichum fragariae, C. gloeosporioides and Fusarium oxysporum, which have substantial affects on agriculture crops.

“Sampangine can greatly help the United States’ $31-billion-a-year minor crop industry. For example, in recent studies in Louisiana, Wedge and Barbara Smith of the ARS Small Fruits Research Station in Poplarville, Miss., verified that some Botrytis fungal strains now resist fungicides commonly used against these strains,” according to ARS.

“According to Wedge, sampangine shows potential for managing fungicide resistance against important diseases and augmenting use of fungicides that are vulnerable to resistance. The sampangine-based fungicides may also find use as postharvest and antidecay


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