Skip to Content

How Many Dollars Are Falling Off Your Greenhouse Bench?

Author: Paul Thomas

Losing plants to disease and insects, nutrition or neglect happens to all of us. Our goal for publishing the e-Gro series of alerts and seminars is to give you advanced awareness of issues and potential way to address them.  Still, losses happen, and in my recent greenhouse visits, I started noticing the trash cans were staring to hold plants that had to be trashed.  From January through early March, losses are traditionally very low, and unless there was a plug shipping problem, crops seem to do pretty well.  Right about now, we start seeing the first losses due to diseases and insect issues.  As the season goes on, we add losses due to missed irrigations, mishandling, and nutritional issues.  By the end of the growing seasons, we see loses due to leggy stretched or beyond market stage plants being dumped.  When I chat with growers, the usual statement is:  “well, it’s only 2% of the crop, or we kept losses to under 10% this year…” My response?  “Oh my….”


See the entire article here.

Changes to the Worker Protection Standard

by Joseph LaForest

I  thought that many of you may be interested in recent changes to the Worker protection Standard.  EPA put out a good comparison chart which is in the PDF.

  Here are what they list as the major revisions include

  • Annual mandatory training to inform farmworkers on the required protections afforded to them. Currently, training is only once every 5 years.
  • Expanded training includes instructions to reduce take-home exposure from pesticides on work clothing and other safety topics.
  • First-time ever minimum age requirement: Children under 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides.
  • Expanded mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides. The signs prohibit entry into pesticide-treated fields until residues decline to a safe level.
  • New no-entry application-exclusion zones up to 100 feet surrounding pesticide application equipment will protect workers and others from exposure to pesticide overspray.
  • Requirement to provide more than one way for farmworkers and their representatives to gain access to pesticide application information and safety data sheets – centrally-posted, or by requesting records.
  • Mandatory record-keeping to improve states’ ability to follow up on pesticide violations and enforce compliance. Records of application-specific pesticide information, as well as farmworker training, must be kept for two years.
  • Anti-retaliation provisions are comparable to Department of Labor’s (DOL).
  • Changes in personal protective equipment will be consistent with DOL’s standards for ensuring respirators are effective, including fit test, medical evaluation and training.
  • Specific amounts of water to be used for routine washing, emergency eye flushing and other decontamination, including eye wash systems for handlers at pesticide mixing/loading sites.
  • Continue the exemption for farm owners and their immediate families with an expanded definition of immediate family.


ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: Building Local Alliances: Growers & Retail Garden Centers

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION led by Dr. Ted Bilderback

Building Local Alliances: Growers & Retail Garden Centers

It can be challenging to connect local growers with local garden centers. Dr. Bilderback shared how one association (Johnston County Nursery Marketing Association, North Carolina) has approached this issue and then lead a roundtable discussion to share ideas from participants.


Dr. Bilderback is a professor and Interim Arboretum director at North Carolina State University where he has been a member of the Horticultural Science Department since 1977. Ted’s research and extension programs have focused on environmentally conscious cultural practices for growing nursery stock. Extension, teaching, and research responsibilities for nursery crops include emphasis on cultural production techniques. Research emphasis includes plant water relations and nutrition of container nursery stock as related to manipulation of container substrates and irrigation practices.



Managing Your Nursery’s Brand Online

Managing Your Nursery’s Brand Online
Meg Cloud, Social Media Strategist, Stark Bro’s Nursery & Orchards Co., Louisiana, MO

Do you feel overwhelmed by social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook? How should you use it to expand the brand of your nursery? Stark Bro’s social media expert Meg Cloud shared some of the history of this nearly 200-year-old nursery and how they have learned to grow with and manage an online presence.


Meg Cloud is the Social Media Strategist for Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards in Louisiana, Missouri. She manages the online presence for Stark Bro’s via their social sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, their blog, “Growing with Stark Bro’s“, E-Newsletters, etc.!/Stark_Bros!/StarkBrosCares
Nursery Management feature article on Meg Cloud

Robots in Nursery Production

If you want a glimpse into the future, check out the action in a drab warehouse in Billerica, Mass. That’s where a start-up called Harvest Automation is working out new robots that could wipe out an entire category of agricultural labor.

Harvest sells small, battery-powered robots that move potted trees and shrubs around in a plant nursery. The idea is to create enough space between each of the pots so that the plants have room to grow. “It gets pretty grueling” says inventor Joe Jones.

In fact, right now in the U.S., migrant  laborers — some legal, some not — do this sort of work. But recent crackdowns on illegal labor and the expense and hassle of hiring workers through a federal guest worker program have left many nursery owners searching for a solution to their labor problem.

For the entire article, including a video, check out this website.

Estimating the Wholesale Cost of Nursery Production

Estimating the Wholesale Cost of Nursery Production
Tom Fernandez, Associate Professor, Michigan State University, East Lansing

Understanding nursery costs helps growers improve cost management and production efficiency. Accurate cost estimation helps growers set prices that enable them to recover costs and maintain profitability. Dr. Fernandez shares a new spreadsheet tool from MSU Extension that will help field or container nursery producers use their records to estimate their production costs and explore opportunities for savings.


Dr. Fernandez, Michigan State University, has a 3-way appointment with 50% Extension, 25% Teaching and 25% Research. His extension programs focus on water management and quality for wholesale production nurseries, substrates and nutrition for container production, water use legislation as it affects nurseries, and estimating cost of production. Research areas include improving the sustainability of wholesale production nurseries. Specific projects have focused on water management and quality, biodegradable films, phytoremediation of runoff water.

The Economic Outlook for the Green Industry in 2012-13

In this webinar, Dr. Charlie Hall will provide projections for the economy in 2013 and how the economy will impact the green industry next year. Special post-election commentary will forecast what effects might be expected given the so-called fiscal cliff that is looming.

Title: “The Economic Outlook for the Green Industry in 2012-13”
Date: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Time: 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM CST

Register now by clicking the link below:

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Upcoming Webinar Focuses on AGR-Lite Crop Insurance

Understanding Whole-Farm Insurance for Specialized, Diversified Farms
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) will offer a webinar on Thursday, June 28, to explain Adjusted Gross Revenue Lite (AGR-Lite)— a unique, federally subsidized crop-insurance product that holds great promise to serve the needs of smaller, diverse, specialty crop, organic, and direct-market farmers.
Crop insurance agents, agricultural lenders, and cooperative extension agents from the Southeastern states are especially encouraged to attend this June 28 webinar, which will be tailored to their needs. The webinar will feature regionally appropriate examples from the Southeast, and there will be ample time for attendees to ask questions about both AGR-Lite and the AGR-Lite Wizard.
While most insurance products are tied to a specific crop or commodity, AGR-Lite is based on whole-farm revenue and allows farmers who grow several specialty crops, or diverse crops and livestock products, to insure their production based on their historic revenue.
The webinar, “AGR-Lite—Understanding Whole-Farm Insurance for the Specialized and Diversified Farm,” will explain how AGR-Lite works, provide a brief overview of crop-insurance limitations for specialized and highly diverse farms, and also will demonstrate NCAT’s new AGR-Lite Wizard assessment tool. This tool assists farmers and agricultural professionals in evaluating the usefulness of whole-farm revenue insurance.
Jeff Schahczenski, an NCAT Agricultural Economist, will be the webinar presenter.
The webinar will begin at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, June 28, 2012. It is funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency.
To learn more or to register, go to