2015 State Of The Industry: American Floral Endowment — Laser-Focused On The Floriculture Industry’s Research Needs

Terril Nell
Terril Nell

With challenges ranging from pest control to sustainability and social marketing, the American Floral Endowment (AFE) deliberately directs research funds to scientists who are most capable of producing answers for the floriculture industry.

The floriculture industry faces complex issues today that seem unrelated to day-to-day flower production and sales — availability of water and disposal of waste water, environmental sustainability, marketing and increased public interest in organic and low-level pesticide plants. And the need to continually replenish the supply of qualified and trained young people in the floriculture industry cannot be overlooked.

Worldwide production of fresh cut flowers has become a reality, bringing with it the need for improved shipping and handling procedures and technology to reduce postharvest insect and disease problems. Bedding and potted plant growers, along with plant breeders, seek new and exciting plants for homes, landscapes and offices. The desire to increase flower and plant sales continues, with much of the discussion revolving around how to engage GenX and millennials in flower buying and gardening. Internet and mass-market sales have gained a larger share of the market.

Research projects on many of these topics are currently being funded by the American Floral Endowment. AFE is an industry-supported endowment that supports research at universities throughout the U.S. The AFE Board is committed to focusing research where it is most needed by growers, wholesalers, shippers and retailers. Research benefits everyone in the industry.

Latest Findings

Pest Management. Projects have been funded to test the effectiveness of banker plants, biocontrols and pesticides for control of aphids, thrips, downy mildew and powdery mildew on roses, gerbera daisy, coleus and verbena. In the past, use of beneficial insects required repeated releases of insects over time — a costly practice for growers. Now, one banker plant system uses flowering marigold plants with predatory mites released on the flowers and foliage; a millet-based granular formulation of an insect-killing fungus, which is mixed into the surface of the potting mix; and a thrips pheromone lure attached to a wire stake. This system is based on the concept that adult thrips are attracted out of the crop to the flowering marigolds, where they will reproduce.

As University of Vermont researcher, Margaret Skinner, says “This is a low cost, easy to use, non-chemical pesticide system that suppresses thrips populations through a holistic ‘ASK’ approach: attract, sustain and kill.”

Postharvest Handling. Care and handling guidelines and shipping techniques have and are continually being refined, and postharvest disorders of some crops, such as gerbera, have been studied. Gerbera stem bending is a postharvest nightmare for wholesalers and retailers. The stem bends about 3 to 4 inches below the flower, and may break. Hydrating the stems in a specialized container where the stems do not touch the bottom of the container eliminated stem bending. Other projects involved solving leaf-yellowing of geraniums, use of calcium and silicon to reduce botrytis on poinsettias and the importance of maintaining flower food solutions with low microbial activity.

Production Technology. Many of the production-oriented projects concentrated on cost savings for growers and environmental sustainability. AFE-supported research provides some of the initial results with LED lighting in greenhouses. LED lighting was successfully substituted for incandescent photoperiodic lighting, thus saving growers 70 to 80 percent of electrical costs. In an effort to conserve water, research demonstrated that root zone moisture sensors effectively controlled soil moisture levels while reducing leaching.

With poinsettias, reduced energy usage resulted when poinsettias were finished under cold greenhouse conditions. Timing, height and bract size were not affected. In addition, the use of cold finishing temperatures reduced use of plant growth regulators and improved postharvest performance.

Consumer Preferences. What do consumers really want when they purchase plants and flowers? Flower longevity and vase life guarantees were shown to be among the highest priorities for people buying cut flowers. And most customers preferred to have a guarantee tag on the flowers they purchase.

In other projects, color and fragrance preferences of young adult buyers were identified. Of the people participating in the studies, 66 percent had a preference for fragrance while 79 percent had a color preference. Most participants preferred the fragrance characteristic of rose oil.
Special reports providing useful information about the projects mentioned here and more can be found at Bit.ly/AFEReports.

Looking To The Future

For more than 50 years, AFE has funded more than $14 million in research. Our mission is to continue to support research on the most important issues facing the floriculture industry. Based on feedback from the industry, the following topic areas will be the focus of future research projects.

Biocontrols. Evaluation of effective, commercially feasible biocontrol practices. Pest management strategies that can combine biocontrol measures with the careful and strategic use of pesticides will highlight ongoing projects. Development of these pest management strategies will help the industry meet consumer and retail interests for reduced pesticide application. Development of these practices may prove to enhance pollinator health.

Breeding. Development of flowers and plants with resistance to production and postharvest diseases and enhanced post-harvest quality, and performance will be beneficial to the industry.
New Technology. Innovative techniques and technology may lead to increased flower and plant quality, improved production and postharvest efficiencies and reduced energy consumption.

Pest And Disease. Pest management is always a critical issue for the industry. The goal will be to identify control practices for significant reduction in aphids, leaf miners, thrips and whiteflies. Also, controlling Botrytis during production and postharvest and downy mildew and powdery mildew will remain a focus for future projects. AFE will remain flexible to support new and emerging insect and disease issues as they arise.

Postharvest. Consumers want high-quality and long lasting flowers and plants. Projects that can reduce postharvest shipping, storage and postharvest losses for the industry while improving postharvest and garden performance for consumers will be a strong area of interest.

Getting Research Results To The Floriculture Industry

In 2015, AFE will launch an electronic newsletter highlighting ongoing projects and research findings from funded projects. This is in addition to the quarterly AFE Bulletin. Additionally, AFE-funded researchers will be asked to publish updates in industry trade magazines. Information on funded projects and final research reports are always available to the industry (free) on the AFE website: Endowment.org.

Future opportunities are exciting for the industry. Researchers throughout the U.S. are ready and willing to address industry needs. AFE welcomes feedback and suggestions from the floriculture industry. Help us identify the key research needs and consider a tax-deductible contribution to the American Floral Endowment as part of your support for our industry.

More 2015 State Of The Industry articles:
Major Changes In Washington Reveal Need For Reform
Current Green Industry Trends
Growers And Suppliers Are Optimistic For A Strong Year In 2015
2015 State Of The Industry: Numbers At A Glance
2015 Brings More Debate On Pollinator Health, Pesticides And The Plants We Sell 

 

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

More From Management...
Griffin-Massachusetts-Cannabis-Workshop

April 23, 2018

Griffin Hosting Cannabis Growers Workshop in May

The half-day program in Colorado will focus on several aspects of crop fertility and nutrition delivery strategies.

Read More
AFE-Flower-Marketing-Videos

April 20, 2018

Your Weekly Chance to Market the Positive Vibes That Flowers Bring

Each week between now and the end of the year, American Floral Endowment will post a new video promoting flowers.

Read More
Dual Income No Kids (DINK) Young Couple

April 10, 2018

Make Plans to Attend the NICH Annual Conference in Atlanta in June

Everyone in every aspect of consumer horticulture is invited to attend and help create a unified, strategic plan around industry-wide priorities.

Read More
Latest Stories
Griffin-Massachusetts-Cannabis-Workshop

April 23, 2018

Griffin Hosting Cannabis Growers Workshop in May

The half-day program in Colorado will focus on several aspects of crop fertility and nutrition delivery strategies.

Read More
AFE-Flower-Marketing-Videos

April 20, 2018

Your Weekly Chance to Market the Positive Vibes That Fl…

Each week between now and the end of the year, American Floral Endowment will post a new video promoting flowers.

Read More
Dual Income No Kids (DINK) Young Couple

April 10, 2018

Make Plans to Attend the NICH Annual Conference in Atla…

Everyone in every aspect of consumer horticulture is invited to attend and help create a unified, strategic plan around industry-wide priorities.

Read More
2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society Field Trials

March 31, 2018

Save the Date for the 2018 Northeast Greenhouse Confere…

This year’s conference takes place Nov. 7-8, 2018, and offers growers a great opportunity to learn, share, and connect with other industry professionals.

Read More
NatureFresh-Farms-Leamington-Expansion

March 27, 2018

NatureFresh Further Expands Greenhouse Tomato Productio…

Construction of a new, 32-acre greenhouse facility will commence in the summer of 2018, with production scheduled to begin in 2019.

Read More
Dickman-Farms-Carve-and-Brew-Event

March 26, 2018

How Dickman Farms Used a New Event to Expand Its Custom…

Last fall, Dickman Farms hosted “Carve & Brew,” a new event in which young adults were able to carve a pumpkin, taste craft brews from two local microbreweries, and relax with friends and neighbors.

Read More
Bell Nursery Panorama Photo

March 23, 2018

Bell Nursery’s Gary Mangum Provides Insight on De…

In light of the March 14 announcement that Bell Nursery Holdings LLC had been acquired by Central Garden & Pet, Greenhouse Grower caught up with Bell Nursery CEO Gary Mangum to get the backstory on the deal. Here is our full interview with Mangum.

Read More
Mason-Day-GrowIt-Feature

March 22, 2018

Why Your Efforts to Sell Plants Fall Short and What You…

It’s time to look at outside industries for ideas and inspiration on what we can do to operate more efficiently in today’s economy.

Read More
Seed-Your-Future-Dinner

March 20, 2018

Seed Your Future Dinner Celebrates Focus on New, Young …

During a Seed Your Future Leadership Meeting Fundraiser dinner at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania's Ag Secretary thanked the Seed Your Future initiative for its efforts to create awareness of horticulture and careers in horticulture.

Read More
Banker-Plants-at-Thiels

March 19, 2018

Bug Your Customer About Biocontrols

Getting customers educated about your biocontrol use and using it to build your brand is all about telling your story in way that attracts attention.

Read More
John Sorenson

March 15, 2018

Vestaron CEO John Sorenson Dies at Age 68

Sorenson, a long-time crop protection specialist in the horticulture industry, was a key figure in Vestaron’s launch of new and innovative biological products.

Read More
Roger-Kehoe-Eason

March 12, 2018

Eason Horticultural Resources Adds to its National Sale…

Roger Kehoe joins the company as a Sales and Production Management Expert. He was most recently the Director of Young Plant Production at the Color Division of Costa Farms.

Read More

March 11, 2018

National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture Releases …

A new series of four #PlantsDoThat Inside infographics focuses on the multitude of ways indoor plants affect where we live, where we work, where we heal, and where we learn. The first two infographics are now available.

Read More
Penn State University campus

March 9, 2018

Check Out the Top 40 Ag Colleges in the World

The most recent World University Ranking by Subject report includes a breakdown of the top agricultural colleges. Find out if your alma mater made the list!

Read More
GCA-Summer-Tour-McAuliffes

March 9, 2018

GCA Announces Complete Seattle Garden Center Summer Tou…

The Garden Centers of America Summer Tour in Seattle will feature visits to some of the most unique plant retailers in the Pacific Northwest.

Read More

March 8, 2018

Southern Nursery Association to Award $18,000 in Schola…

The deadline for application is May 27, and 12 scholarships are expected to be awarded.

Read More
Stephanie-Jensen-BASF

March 7, 2018

BASF Names New Director of Its Specialty Crops Business

Stephanie Jensen will focus on new and innovative solutions for growers in the pest control, turf, and ornamentals markets.

Read More
SNA-2019-Conference-Logo

March 6, 2018

SNA Conference Will Once Again Co-Locate with MANTS in …

Participants of the 2018 SNA Conference were positive about the location, the meeting space, and the added convenience of the conference being held two days before the opening of MANTS.

Read More