The Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Horticulture’s floriculture team has a new member. Garrett Owen was hired in January 2017 as an outreach specialist in the production of floriculture and other specialty crops produced in greenhouses and controlled environments.
Owen has been involved in the horticulture industry from a very young age He worked on his family’s vegetable farm and then started his own greenhouse business during high school as a FFA project. He then went on to North Carolina State University to earn a bachelor’s degree (2011) and master’s degree (2013) in horticultural sciences and a Ph.D. degree (2017) from Purdue University.
During Owen’s master’s degree, he determined that pine wood chips could be successfully used as an alternative to perlite in greenhouse substrates. For his Ph.D., he investigated the influence of supplemental and sole-source lighting and root-zone temperature on cutting callusing, rooting and quality of herbaceous perennials. He also worked part-time as the floriculture lab research technician where he conducted various alkalinity, fertility, lighting (supplemental, end-of-production and photoperiodic), plant growth regulator, temperature, and cut flower studies.
Owen’s two-way appointment of 85% Extension and 15% research will provide support and generate research-based information to the greenhouse and controlled-environment horticulture industries of eastern Michigan. His office and research greenhouse are located at the MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center in Novi, MI.
Owen’s current research focus is on plant growth regulation and nutrition of herbaceous perennial crops, and some of his research has been published in Greenhouse Grower. He joins Erik Runkle, Roberto Lopez, and Ryan Warner as members of the Floriculture Research Alliance, which is a team of six universities and the USDA Agricultural Research Service that partners with industry to develop science-based solutions to sustainability issues for floriculture and other specialty crops grown in controlled environments.
He is also a member of the Electronic Grower Resources Online (e-GRO) team of floriculture and controlled environment specialists and educators from nine universities. The e-GRO website contains timely alerts on disease, insect, environmental, physiological, and nutritional disorders that occur in commercial greenhouses, as well as blogs, podcasts, videos, research reports, and more.
In 2016, Owen won the Richard T. Meister Scholarship ($4,000), named for Dick Meister, the namesake of Greenhouse Grower’s parent company, Meister Media Worldwide. The scholarship was presented by the American Floral Endowment.
Owen is already a contributor to MSU Extension’s Floriculture News and sends out a monthly eastern Michigan floriculture and greenhouse notes email.