Growers enjoyed a fuller educational experience during the Pest & Production Management Conference hosted by the Society of American Florists and Greenhouse Grower in Orlando Feb. 25-27. The new format expanded beyond pests and diseases to include more production topics and interactive sessions.
Nearly 20 suppliers and the American Floral Endowment supported the more intimate conference, which drew more than 140 growers, academics and allied technical experts.
This year’s program was coordinated by four of the nation’s top research and extension educators, including James Bethke of University of California Cooperative Extension, Paul Fisher of the University of Florida, Scott Ludwig of Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Cristi Palmer, who manages floriculture research programs for the IR-4 Project at Rutgers University. IR-4 acts as the conduit between chemical manufacturers, researchers and growers by facilitating research that will promote label registrations for crop protection products.
Being in Orlando made it possible to tap a spectrum of the experts at the University of Florida–James Barrett and Sonali Padhye on plant growth regulators, Lance Osborne on using banker plants and biocontrols to control pests, Dave Norman on diseases and Fisher on treating water for pathogens and analyzing water quality.
National experts from outside Florida include:
- Entomologist Raymond Cloyd from the University of Kansas on alternative Pest Control and research studying essential oils for efficacy
- Pathologist Mary Hausbeck from Michigan State University on how pathogens move and propagate through water
- Pathologist Margery Daughtrey from Cornell University on controlling the most persnickety plant diseases.
- Kim Williams from Kansas State University on nonpathogenic plant disorders’ causes and cures
- Entomologist Scott Ludwig on thrips management
- USDA’s Anthony Witcher on incorporating finely ground wood into growing media as an alternative substrate
- Bill Argo from the Blackmore Company on understanding nutritional water quality
For one afternoon, attendees broke into four small groups and had more one-to-one interactions with the experts and got to take a close look at beneficial organisms and inspect a wide spectrum of plant diseases on various crops.
Attendees also had the opportunity to see real-world production practices at two leading growing operations on the preconference tour to Knox Nursery, Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses and the University of Florida’s Apopka research station.