BenchPress Profile: Susan Stieve

How does the Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center help growers?

Currently we have more than 3,100 accessions in our collection that are distributed free of charge to researchers around the world. We have sent our plant material, in the form of seeds or cuttings, to floriculture breeders in the United States and elsewhere.

How many research requests do you get a day? How many non-research requests do you get from home gardeners?

Since we began distributions in 2002 we have distributed almost 2,500 items. Because we do conserve so many beautiful plants here we do receive requests from home gardeners. As it states on the USDA National Plant Germplasm System website, germplasm is available in small quantities for research purposes. If we are unsure of the intended use of the material we will follow up with the requester and help them find alternative sources if it is for home gardening use.

Is the center close to collecting seeds for all species of certain genera?

The center has established good collections of many priority genera that continue to grow. These include rudbeckia (65 percent of possible species) and coreopsis (46 percent). In October, (research assistant) Eric Renze and I traveled over 4,000 miles in 11 days throughout the Southeastern U.S. We collected seeds in eight states and were able to acquire 65 new accessions, including 27 new accessions of rudbeckia, 19 coreopsis, and one lilium. This fall, we are planning to continue collecting in the Pacific Northwest, and I am working on a proposal to collect in Arizona in the fall of 2010.

How does the center store seeds?

We primarily store germplasm in the form of seeds, but we do also maintain some accessions, for example Pelargonium, clonally. We have an approximately 30-foot x 30-foot walk-in seed storage cooler that is maintained at 40°F and 20 percent RH, which are good conditions for medium-term storage of seeds. We also back up all of our accessions at the USDA National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colo.

What’s the most fun part of your job?

There is always something new to work on and learn about every day, whether it is evaluating different insects for their pollinating ability, working to break seed dormancy, developing projects with researchers at The Ohio State University and elsewhere to find answers that will benefit the floriculture industry, working with others to develop bar code and electronic data collection techniques, evaluation germplasm in the collection so we can tell others about the diversity they contain, or lead tours for some of over 300 visitors we have each year.

What’s the most challenging part of it?

One of the best things about the OPGC is the knowledgeable young staff that we have; currently there are 4 full time employees, including myself, and seven undergraduate students. The most challenging part of our work is that there is so much of it! We have a huge task before us…conserve the world’s wealth of herbaceous ornamentals…which is more than a little daunting, and we have a limited budget to work with. Like the readers of Greenhouse Grower, we have a lot to accomplish and only so many hours in a day to get it done.

We are the newest of the 25 USDA-ARS genebanks…many of the others have been in existence for 75 years or more and employ hundreds of people. That said, since we began operations eight years ago we have established an excellent collection of seed processing equipment, including the Faxitron X-ray, which most other genebanks do not have, and are one of the genebanks most actively using the USDA-ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database for maintaining collection information. The OPGC is somewhat at a disadvantage, though, in that other genebanks had established their collections prior to 1992 and have not been as affected by the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Which genus’s seeds are the most difficult to obtain? Which species have completely eluded you that you’d like to track down?

One genus we have had particular difficulty collecting is Phlox; the seeds dehisce, or drop off the flower, as soon as they are ripe. So you either have to be there the day it is ripe and ready to harvest, or be there ahead of time, bag the flower head, and return after it has ripened; this isn’t practical if the plant is 1,000 miles away!

What are your goals for the center?

I want to promote the center and its mission to our stakeholders, the floriculture industry, and make everyone aware of what we have accomplished; when anyone thinks of herbaceous ornamentals I would like them to think of the OPGC…new flowers start here! We will have a booth at the OFA Trade Show and I would like to encourage anyone who wants to know more about the OPGC and how our plant material is being used to stop on by in July.

Since there are now large collections of Begonia, Rudbeckia, Viola, Pelargonium, Coreopsis, and other genera to work with another goal is to evaluate and characterize plants in the collection and make that information available to others, either online or in publications, so flower breeders and others will know what genetic diversity we have available.

Develop industry-oriented collaborative research promoting germplasm use.

Continue to grow the OPGC endowment, which is used to pay for undergraduate student interns during the summer.

Leave a Reply

More From State of the Industry...
Bees on flowers

October 11, 2016

Bees Endangered? Here’s The Rest Of The Story

Recently, mainstream media reported that certain bee species have been placed on the endangered species list, but the situation isn’t as dire as one might think.

Read More
cuttings-facility

September 27, 2016

How Global Suppliers Of Unrooted Cuttings Are Working To Improve The Pipeline

The world’s top vegetative producers discuss how they continue to evolve to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities to help growers and the varieties supply chain.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Students

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Bees on flowers

October 11, 2016

Bees Endangered? Here’s The Rest Of The Story

Recently, mainstream media reported that certain bee species have been placed on the endangered species list, but the situation isn’t as dire as one might think.

Read More
cuttings-facility

September 27, 2016

How Global Suppliers Of Unrooted Cuttings Are Working T…

The world’s top vegetative producers discuss how they continue to evolve to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities to help growers and the varieties supply chain.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Studen…

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
young-plants

September 20, 2016

The Top Young Plant Growers, And Four Critical Challeng…

In Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top Young Plant Growers Survey, growers discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in fulfillment, shipping, labor, and crop protection.

Read More

August 13, 2016

Plants Sales Are Up For Fourth Straight Year, According…

Growers declared spring 2016 to be a success in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry: Spring Crops Recap Survey.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Adv…

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More

July 26, 2016

AFE Releases New Videos Highlighting Industry Successes

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently released five new videos, created to highlight floriculture successes through industry collaboration, support, and participation. “Each video shares real stories from industry members on career development through scholarships and internships, and true examples of research solutions that have shaped how the industry operates today,” says Laura Shinall, President of Syndicate Sales, Inc., and AFE Public Relations and Development Chair. “We’re excited to be able to share some great success stories in an effort to increase industry participation.” The introductory video “Heard of the American Floral Endowment?” helps educate those who aren’t currently aware of AFE’s programs, while other segmented videos (retail, wholesale, grower) share how Endowment programs complement each group and why it’s so important that everyone in the industry participates: Retail Florists Share Why They Turn to AFE New Resources for Floral Wholesalers and Suppliers AFE Helping Growers Profit Ready for a Career in Floriculture or Horticulture? […]

Read More

July 19, 2016

Do You Grow Young Plants? Only 4 Days Left To Take Our …

If your operation produces plugs or liners for wholesale growers, please take a few minutes to participate in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Young Plant Grower Survey. We know you are very busy and we value your time and input. This survey should only take a few minutes. Greenhouse Grower’s Young Plant Grower Survey has played a key role in building our Top 20 Young Plant Growers list over the years. The information helps us zero in on trends taking shape and the challenges you’re facing as young plant growers. If you have any questions about this survey or you are not the right contact for this at your operation, please email me at [email protected], or please forward the survey link to the appropriate person. We would like to wrap up this survey by July 25, so please take it soon! Thank you in advance for your participation. We value your opinion! » […]

Read More
State of the industry 2016

February 23, 2016

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry…

A year of growth in 2015 also had its share of challenges, and as a result, growers and suppliers were a bit more guarded going into 2016. After a few years of extreme weather and drought, a massive ongoing labor shortage, a shaky economy, and increased government regulation, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows growers and retailers are moving forward with cautious optimism. Despite their many concerns, growers are ready to tackle another spring season in 2016, and many have reported that investments they have made within the past year are helping to drive their operations into the future. Further, rising consumer confidence indicates good things for 2016, growers said. Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, including comparisons of 2015 sales to past years, details on how 2016 production volume and prices will compare to 2015, crops that […]

Read More

February 18, 2016

Poinsettia Survey Shows Strong Sales For Greenhouse Gro…

The year 2015 might have been one that many were glad to see in the rear view mirror, but for poinsettia growers, it was a good sales year — perhaps the strongest in quite a while. Compared to 2014, which was also widely deemed a success among growers for its seasonal cold at just the right time, good weather for shipping, and a good holiday spirit, the 2015 season was solid for a number of reasons. The weather, a rebounding economy, and increased demand all contributed to what growers said was a “very strong” sales season. “It was a strong year beginning to end due to great weather and quality product as the market demanded,” said Dan Chaney of Ivy Acres, in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Poinsettia Survey.     “Sales were strong. Demand was better than the previous two years,” said Larry Windham of Windham Greenhouses Inc. “Very good. The […]

Read More
Pot Mum Combos (Syngenta Flowers)

February 8, 2016

Syngenta Has A New Buyer, Will Not Divest Flower Seeds …

Syngenta has announced that it will likely approve an offer from ChemChina to acquire the company, which means it no longer plans to divest its flower seed business.

Read More
State of the industry 2016

January 21, 2016

Green Industry Is Set For Continued Growth In 2016

Economist Charlie Hall says the outlook for the green industry is promising despite the havoc wreaked on plant sales by the downturn in housing.

Read More
How will growers' production in 2016 compare to 2015

January 18, 2016

2016 State Of The Greenhouse Industry Numbers At A Glan…

Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows some promising trends for the new year. Here’s a look at the greenhouse market for 2016, in graphics.     For a more in-depth analysis of where the industry stands, read Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry article, “Growers And Suppliers Move Forward With Cautious Optimism In 2016.”

Read More
Top Concerns sidebar

January 18, 2016

Growers And Suppliers Move Forward With Cautious Optimi…

A year of growth in 2015 also had its share of challenges, and as a result, growers and suppliers are a bit more guarded going into 2016. After a few years of extreme weather and drought, a massive ongoing labor shortage, a shaky economy, and increased government regulation, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows growers and retailers are moving forward with cautious optimism. Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey included separate questions for growers and for suppliers. Of our 358 respondents, 103 were suppliers, 111 were grower-retailers, 109 were wholesale growers, and 35 were young plant growers. Among growers, 57% indicated their operations were small (less than 100,000 square feet), 21% were medium-sized (100,000 to 399,999 square feet), and 22% said they were large growers (400,000 square feet or larger). Sixty-eight percent of the grower respondents said their sales grew in 2015 over 2014, down […]

Read More
State of the industry 2016

January 14, 2016

Craig Regelbrugge Says 2016 Will Be A Year Of Waiting F…

The 2016 presidential election will make for slow progress on critical regulatory issues like health care, pollinator health, and immigration reform.

Read More

December 29, 2015

The Home Depot Says No To Neonics

The Home Depot plans to phase out neonicotinoids by 2018, according to a recent statement on the company’s website. The large home improvement retailer stated that its live goods suppliers have reduced the number of plants that they treat with neonicotinoids, and now more than 80% of all flowering plants sold at The Home Depot are not treated with neonicotinoids. The retailer said it will continue this decrease unless: Treatment is required by state or federal regulation, or Undisputed science proves that the use of neonicotinoids on live goods does not have a lethal or sub-lethal effect on pollinators Aside from these exceptions, the retailer has implemented a complete phase-out of neonicotinoid use on live goods by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, The Home Depot has required all of its live goods suppliers to label plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids. “The Home Depot is deeply engaged in understanding the […]

Read More
Pollinator-Conference-NC State

December 9, 2015

Pollinator Gardens Are On The Rise, Provide Opportuniti…

Thanks to the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, enacted in June 2015 by the National Pollinator Garden Network, scores of new pollinator gardens to be planted over the next year and beyond will provide growers with ample opportunities to produce, promote and sell plants that are ideal for pollinator forage and health. And with research underway within the industry, we’ll soon have more knowledge about which plants are the most beneficial and attractive to pollinators. At Bayer’s Bee Care Center, the level of consumer engagement and interest in planting pollinator gardens is very high, Bayer’s Sarah Myers says. Bayer now has 73 local and industry partners and counting in its “Feed A Bee Campaign,” launched in March. Educating consumers about what they can plant to attract bees, and the impact they can have with even the smallest amount of space, is highly important, Myers says. It’s worth explaining to them that […]

Read More
foodscaping at epcot - Foodscaping Goes Big At Disney

December 9, 2015

Foodscaping Challenges Conventional Ideas About Landsca…

Conventional ideas about what a landscape should look like are being challenged left and right, from young homeowners like Sarah Baker of Baker’s Acres, who are standing up for their right not to mow their lawns, to Brie Arthur’s passion to start a movement to incorporate food with flowers throughout suburban and urban landscapes nationwide. As younger generations step up as consumers and industry leaders, these changes are likely to continue, and the horticulture industry, which has the most to gain, would be remiss not to embrace and influence them. Well known for her personal foodscape, which she has promoted across social media, and her annual tomato-tasting fundraising event benefiting the nearby J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, N.C., Brie Arthur has also been working with schools and her local Homeowner Association (HOA) to challenge the traditional idea of the landscape to one that incorporates the growing of food with mainstream, […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]