The Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Horticulture recently hired a new assistant professor specializing in weed science in ornamental crop production. Debalina Saha joined the department in July of 2019 and is serving the landscape, nursery, greenhouse, and Christmas tree industries. She has a 50% Extension, 35% research, and 15% teaching appointment.
Prior to joining the department, Saha earned her bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees at University of Calcutta in India with a major in Botany. She earned her doctorate at University of Florida in May 2019. Her dissertation was on assessing the influence of mulch physical and chemical properties on preemergent herbicides and weed control for ornamental crop production. In her research, she assessed herbicide formulations (granular and liquid), moisture levels, mulch types, and depth on weed control.
Saha has studied preemergent herbicide movement through different organic landscape mulch materials, evaluated physical properties of mulch and their effect on weed control, and has also assessed allelopathic properties of different organic mulch materials and their effect on weed control. Other projects she worked on in Florida include controlling artillery weed with preemergent and post-emergent herbicides, using post-emergent herbicides to control bittercress and oxalis, and fertilizer placement and its effect on weed species grown in containers.
In her new role, Saha will be working with the ornamental horticulture industry in Michigan. Michigan is the third-largest producer of floriculture crops behind California and Florida with 569 producers with at least $10,000 in sales, according to the 2018 Floriculture Crops Summary by the National Agriculture Statistics Service. The reported wholesale value of the floriculture industry in Michigan is $486 million, up from $409 million reported in 2015. According to the latest nursery report, Michigan is the fourth largest producer of Christmas trees in the United States and ranks 11th in the nation in nursery stock sold, which is worth $1.2 billion.