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Sustainable Nursery Irrigation Management Series: Part 1 – Water Use in Nursery Production

Water is essential to plant life and is a critical input to nursery crop production. For plants, water is used in temperature regulation, as a carrier for nutrients and plant hormones, and is the hydraulic force behind growth. Water is taken up by plant roots and is lost to the environment through the stomates and the leaf cuticle. A water deficit can negatively affect plant growth, plant health and the amount of time needed to grow a crop to a marketable size.
Irrigation can shorten the production period for field nursery crops and increase quality, which has a positive impact on nursery profitability. Because the nursery  industry has shifted from primarily field-produced crops to container-produced crops, the need for irrigation is increasing. Over 75 percent of nursery crop value (gross  farm gate) in 17 of the major nursery producing states is currently grown in containers (USDA 2009). Container nursery production is not possible without the use of  irrigation.

April edition of the UGA Extension Plant Pathology Update

The April Update includes:

  • March Plant Disease Clinic Report
  • Table of plant disease samples diagnosed a year ago in April 2012
  • Eastern red cedar rusts
  • Bulb mites and spot anthracnose samples
  • Watch out for downy mildews on ornamental plants
  • Fungicide spray guide for Spring-planted peppers
  • Wheat foliar disease update
  • Turfgrass disease update
  • Winter weather in March could affect row crop diseases
  • Bacterial leaf scorch on blueberry research results
  • Corrected contact information

See the entire report HERE

Plant Disease Clinic Report for February 2013

By Ansuya Jogi and Jean Williams‐Woodward

The tables in the link below consist of the commercial and homeowner samples submitted to the plant disease clinics in Athens and Tifton for February 2013 (Table 1) and one year ago in March 2012 (Table 2). Sample numbers were still low in February, but this will soon change! Much of the symptoms we saw on samples were due to environmental stress/injury. However, root and crown diseases caused by Phytophthora, Thielaviopsis basicola, and Rhizoctonia continue to be identified. Also, with the cooler, humid, wet weather, the fungus, Botrytis, will continue to cause problems in the field and in greenhouses, particularly on freeze damaged tissues. Looking ahead through March, based upon samples diagnosed a year ago, we will likely see an increase in turf samples and problems, as well as rust and Sclerotinia diseases starting to show up. I would suspect too that downy mildew diseases will also become prevalent on some crops, particularly on ornamentals in nurseries. 

Best Management Practices for Field-Grown Nursery Crops and Got Quality?

Best Management Practices for Field-Grown Nursery Crops and Got Quality?
Ted Bilderback, Professor and former Extension Specialist for Nursery Crops, currently
Director of the J.C. Raulston Arboretum, North Carolina State University

Field-grown nursery stock is one of the largest sectors of ornamental plant production in Kansas. Although many growers are familiar with field production of other agricultural crops (wheat, sorghum, etc.), they may have less experience with nursery stock. Some aspects of growing shade trees in the field are similar to other agricultural enterprises, but many characteristics—such as procuring line-out stock, spacing, planting, and managing a crop for more than one year—are quite different. Initially, new growers must plan a marketing strategy to identify clientele and determine what plant species or cultivars to grow. Depending on the final plant size at sale, growers can determine the field layout, spacing, and equipment required to meet the strategic plan. The more specific the marketing strategy, the easier it is to determine which plants to grow and how to design the planting plan.

Additionally, quality can be a challenging aspect of production to characterize. Dr. Bilderback will share his research-based insights into developing quality nursery stock.


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.

Evaluation of fungicides for the prevention of boxwood blight, 2012.

K. L. Ivors, L. W. Lacey, and M. Ganci

Dept. Plant Pathology, North Carolina State Univ.

455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759

This trial evaluated the efficacy of several commercially available fungicides for preventive activity against boxwood blight caused by Cylindrocladium buxicola. Treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design consisting of four replications of six 1-gal English boxwood plants per treatment on a container pad at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River, NC. Treatments were applied as foliar sprays until runoff with a CO2-pressurized backpack sprayer equipped with a handheld boom and a single, hollow-cone nozzle (TXVS-26) delivering 50-60 psi. Treatments were applied on 13 Sep, 28 Sep, and 13 Oct. Inoculum was prepared by flooding Petri-dishes of 10 day cultures of the pathogen growing on PDA. Plants were spray inoculated with 5,000 spores per ml until runoff one day post treatment on 14 Sep, and again on 30 Sep, two days after the second fungicide treatment with 8,000 spores per ml until run-off. Disease assessments were conducted on 1, 16 and 26 Oct. Percent leaf area diseased was recorded using the standard Horsfall-Barratt scale. Disease pressure was not high enough to evaluate percent leaf drop or percent stem streaking. AUDPC for percent leaf area diseased across the entire timeframe of the trial was calculated. Air temperatures during the trial was suboptimal for high rates of infection with average daily high and low temperatures of 77.7 and 55.4°F for Sept; and 66.3 and 43.5°F for Oct.

For the entire article – click here.

Simple calculator for Hortus IBA Water Soluble Salts(TM) 20%.

Simple calculator for Hortus IBA Water Soluble Salts(TM) 20%.

Developed for horticulturist, researchers and hobbyist who use Hortus IBA (TM) (20%) to vegetatively propagate plants. Hortus IBA (TM) (20%), one of the leading commercial rooting hormones, allows users to vary the strength (concentration) of their rooting based on their particular need.

This program calculates the amount of Hortus IBA Water Soluble Salts(TM) (20%) to use for a given concentration (parts per million) and volume. Users simply input the desired concentration of the rooting hormone (in parts-per-million, ppm), the amount of rooting hormone needed (in liters, milliliters or gallons) and the app reports how much Hortus TM IBA (20%) (in grams, milligrams or ounces) to mix to produce the desired concentration.

Hortus IBA Water Soluble Salts is a trademark of Hortus USA. See“>Hortus for more information. Hortus USA is not affiliated with and is not responsible for this app or its content. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Please be careful when using this application. OHM Horticultural Apps is not responsible for damages caused by improper use of this app. Double check your input.

Download it here!

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.

Best Management Practices for Your Weed Control Program

Best Management Practices for Your Weed Control Program
Charles Gillam, Professor of Horticulture, Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Dr. Charles Gilliam is one of the leading weed scientists in the United States. He evaluates new chemicals for use in both container-grown and field-grown crops for many pesticide companies. Gilliam has worked with weed research for 30 years and has extensive experience in the nursery industry. He shares key principles of a good weed management program and new herbicide options now available.


Dr. Gilliam, Auburn University, studies herbicide efficacy in container-grown and field-grown nursery crops. Charles has a 75% Research, 25% Extension appointment in ornamental nursery crop production.