2016 Mast Young Plants Field Trials Results

The field trials at Mast Young Plants are a living catalog of its young plant program, with close to 1,800 entries each year. In addition, more than 700 varieties of annuals and perennials in containers and hanging baskets, many introduced at California Spring Trials 2016, were trialed at a private location.

Here is what Laura Robles, Research and Development Manger at Mast Young Plants had to say about the trials.

Weather: This year at our trial site in Grand Rapids, MI, the weather was hotter than normal, as much of the country encountered.  We had 18 days over 90°F in Grand Rapids this summer, while the average is eight days. June and the first half of July were also very dry, with borderline drought conditions, but we more than caught up in rainfall in the latter half of July and August. July ended up with 5.62 inches of rainfall versus the normal average of 3.78 inches, and we ended the month of August with 7.97 inches versus the normal 3.58 inches.

Entries: Our display garden typically houses a fairly similar number of entries from year to year since it is a “living catalog” of our young plant program. We try to hold the number close to 1,200 each year, balancing our adds and drops to the program as much as possible. This year we had just over our goal with 1,231. In addition to the display garden, we featured 200 Ball FloraPlant varieties and about 40 of the Greenfuse First Light perennials, 325 breeder-designed combinations in our blind trial, and about 50 varieties in our All-America Selections garden. The total was just over 1,800 entries. In addition, we have a private trial site at a different location where we had another 700+ varieties of annuals and perennials in containers and hanging baskets, mostly varieties that were introduced at CAST this past spring.

Challenges: With as hot as it was this summer, many of the plants that are more cool-season growers did not do as well as they would have in a more moderate summer.

New: This year we changed up how we started our plant material for the display garden. Whereas in past years we have started most varieties in a 50 mm elle (32 cell tray), we found that it was just too much soil volume for some varieties to root into well, so we went to a 25 mm elle this year that is bumped up into a 4-inch pot before planting in the beds. The combo pots and baskets were planted directly from the 25 mm elles. It has worked quite well, and the plan is to continue with this system.

Judging: Our display garden is not judged formally, but we definitely use it as a learning tool for everyone from customer service to growing to research and development, to learn more about the varieties and what performs best in a given year, as well as for our customers and other visitors to learn from. The All-America Selections (AAS) garden is judged according to the AAS standards. Our blind trial is evaluated on a bi-weekly basis on a number of criteria, including but not limited to bloom quantity and quality, disease resistance, habit, etc. It is also voted on by our visitors so that we get an idea of what their favorites are.

Top Ten Performers: (not necessarily in order)

Portulaca ColorBlast Bicolors
Phlox Gisele Series
Petunia ‘Amore Queen of Hearts’
Pentas Falling Star series
Scaevola ‘Scalora Pearl’
Verbena Blues Series
Petunia ‘ColorRush Pink’
Begonia ‘Mistral Pink’
Scaevola ‘Surdiva Fashion Pink’ and ‘Surdiva Blue Violet’

Best In Show

Salvia ‘Velocity Blue’
Petunia ‘Cascadias Indian Summer’
Petunia ‘Cascadias Pitaya’

Consumer Favorites

Portulaca ColorBlast Bicolors
Phlox Gisele Series
Scaevola ‘Scalora Pearl’
Petunia ‘Amore Queen of Hearts’
Pentas Falling Star Series
Begonia ‘Unstoppable Upright Fire’
Bacopa ‘Megacopa White’ (because it stayed in color all season)
Impatiens ‘SunPatiens Compact Tropical Rose’


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