UNH Plant Research Hopes to Boost Winter Nursery Production
Researchers at the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station (NHAES) are working to reduce nursery costs and losses by providing more comprehensive information on leaving container-grown shrubs outside during the winter such as which ones need to be covered and which shrubs should be placed in a heated enclosure. The research objective is to support local production of nursery products, which saves energy, encourages use of native and adapted plants and supports the local economy. “This study will lead to the continued development of easier, more reliable and more economical production methods, making nursery stock production a more profitable enterprise for Northern growers,” says NHAES researcher Cathy Neal, an extension specialist in landscape horticulture. Neal has been conducting experiments on root cold tolerance and plant performance in Northern nursery production systems for three years. In experiments conducted at the Woodman Horticultural Research Farm and the UNH Macfarlane Research Greenhouses, Neal has been attempting to better understand root cold tolerance and how it is affected by cultural and environmental factors in container-grown plants. Her experiments have also looked at the lasting impact of production systems on root structure, tree health and longevity, and whether root pruning at transplanting is effective at correcting defects. Jeffrey Meulenbroek, owner of Studley Flower Gardens in Rochester, New Hampshire, says Neals NHAES research could be valuable to the nursery industry, particularly if it supports more New Hampshire nursery production. “If it is determined that some species of containerized shrubs could be left outside safely through winters in New Hampshire, that would certainly save me labor and prevent damage from handling the nursery stock when storing it for winter and again when taking the nursery stock out again for sale in the spring,” says Meulenbroek. For more information, visit www.colsa.unh.edu/aes.