Flowers
The 2017 poinsettia season was much better than even the top sales we saw in 2016. This past year marks three years in a row where poinsettia production, sales and consumer satisfaction has improved. Sales were better for the growers in general, but not great for all retailers – depending on the product sizes, packaging, displays and sales timing. And consumer satisfaction depends on which product they ended up with.
Overall, 2017 was a pretty good year for Ontario’s spring flower crops in terms of pests. Insects like western flower thrips were fairly low (no heavy fly-ins like in 2016) and more severe diseases were scarce. Here are some tips for how we can keep 2018 going in the same direction.
Ball Horticultural Company is thrilled to announce a breakthrough years in the making. Through a collaborative effort with KeyGene, both companies are pleased to announce the successful sequencing and assembly of the Impatiens walleriana genome. This first-of-its-kind project creates a highly accurate tool for breeders looking to provide new solutions to the industry in Impatiens.

“Genome sequencing and assembly not only provides a more efficient approach to breeding and plant trait identification, but it provides a deeper understanding of our products and their ultimate potential in the marketplace,” says Matt Mouw Chief Technology Officer for Ball Horticultural Company.

Over the course of this project, Ball and KeyGene achieved 100x coverage using long read sequencing technology, which has already led their breeding teams to better utilize significant key plant genes, specifically, genes that confer high resistance to Impatiens Downy Mildew (IDM). The disease has severely impacted global sales of I. walleriana since 2008. By utilizing this new resource of high resistance, along with these newly available genomics tools, breeding companies like PanAmerican Seed are closer than ever to producing Impatiens with high resistance to IDM.

While PanAmerican Seed has worked to address IDM solutions over the past five years, the impatiens genome project took more than two years to complete. It included disciplines from many areas of the industry, including pathologists, breeders, seed technologists, product development teams, and production.

According to Mouw, Ball Horticultural Company has committed to a significant investment in the area of advanced plant technology, with the goal to deliver products, services and solutions to the industry. “This is the first in what will promise to be a pipeline of opportunities in seed and vegetative products that wouldn’t before have been possible.”
November 2017 – Here in southwestern Ontario, we have just experienced a wetter than usual summer, with cooler than average temperatures especially at night. The continuously rainy days and nights and the cooler temperatures put the plants in the Sawaya Garden Trials through new Mother Nature stress or benefit tests, depending on the varieties.
November 2017 – It’s difficult to think of a more diverse, interesting and misunderstood category of plants in the horticultural industry than perennials. A colleague once said that “all plants are annuals somewhere and perennials somewhere else.” Although she oversimplified this just a bit, the point was well taken.
Nothing in the whole production cycle is as important as the knowledge about the product that you are going to grow. Knowing the parameters and the growing habit of a cultivar makes the difference in achieving a successful crop or a total failure or something in between.
Aug. 28, 2017, West Chicago, IL – More than 1,000 industry professionals visited Ball Horticultural Company’s home office in West Chicago, Illinois, on the last Friday in July for Ball Seed’s annual Field Day and Landscape Day celebration.
Aug. 24, 2017 – The sensational gardening social media team commonly known as Garden Answer- Laura & Aaron LeBoutillier – has reached the two million followers mark on Facebook. Now you may be wondering … what’s so important about that number?
July 26, 2017, Pensacola, FL – Growers now have access to the latest market trends, industry demand and new variety introductions with the release of Emerald Coast Growers’ 2017-18 Resource Guide.
February 2017 – Ontario growers who thought 2015 was a good year for the crop had a very pleasant surprise last fall, thanks to perfect weather conditions, excellent cuttings and minimal pest pressures. Retailers, too, were in a most festive mood.
Nov. 11, 2016 – Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Flowering Shrubs have received Direct Gardening Association (DGA) awards for Purple Pillar™ Rose of Sharon hibiscus and Invincibelle® Ruby hydrangea.
November 2016 – This year featured a much warmer than usual summer, by far the hottest summer I have seen since we first hosted the Sawaya Garden Trials 16 years ago.
Sept. 19, 2016, College Station, TX – The U.S. cut flower industry all but wilted over the past 20 years, but much of the loss stems from lack of progress that could blossom under more university research, according to Jim Daly, keynoter at the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture lecture at Texas A&M University.
Aug. 23, 2016 – Cultivate’16 is horticulture’s largest all-industry convention and trade show in North America, featuring more than 120 educational sessions and an eight-acre trade show.
July 25, 2016, Simcoe, Ont. – Wonder what caught the eye of veteran horticulturist Brad McMillan of JVK who toured the Sawaya Garden Trials this past week?

Here’s pictorial overview of his visit, with a number of  his favourites.

(You’ll remember his reports from this year’s California Spring Trials, posted to our archives.)

1/ Think bacopa can’t last through the heat of summer? Some varieties can, and the Betty Series from Greenfuse appears to be one of the better ones. In this photo, take a guess which ones are in the Betty Series. Pretty impressive, given the heat and sun in southern Ontario this summer!

2/ Hort Couture has a reputation for unique plants. This is a good example of Copperhead Acalypha.

3/ Candy Kisses Hemizigia. This is another unique plant available from Hort Couture and Raker. You just can’t miss it. It obviously loves the sun and heat, that doesn’t seem to have affected the colour-pattern on the foliage, at all. Looks great all by itself!

4/ Danziger’s new Amore Series Fiesta petunia – just, wow! Unique flower pattern with heart-shapes, and lots of colour and great vigour.

5 / As I wandered down the aisle of bidens, I saw a few groups of visitors in a row stop and comment – “I really like this one!” Many breeders have made improvements in their bidens in the last few years, and here’s a terrific example from Danziger of what “new” genetics can deliver – Mega Charm.

6/ Beekenkamp has great genetics in their begonia breeding program, what with Waterfall Series, Encanto and Beauvilia sub-series, but they also have other terrific sun and heat-loving varieties like this one – Evi. Look at the size, habit and flower power. Just simply beautiful. Vermillion Red is also a terrific colour in this group, as is Glory Lemon (yes, a good yellow, sun-loving begonia). Thanks, Beekenkamp!

7/ Here’s a beautiful example of one of Frisia Flora’s line of mandevillea – Siesta. Covered in blooms with more coming on!

8/ This is a beautiful specimen of Greenfuse’s Grandstand Blue Bicolour Salvia.

9/ Saucy Coral Salvia is a terrific variety and colour, available from the breeders at Kientzler.

10/ Here’s a heat-loving mangave from Walters Gardens called Pineapple Express. Very nice colour and texture. I was admiring this plant with a grower from Lakefield, Ontario. We may have had differing ideas as to the correct pronunciation of the plant name – mangave. Regardless, a beautiful, southern-looking plant.

11/ Many growers have given up on osteospermum for the summer. It’s been very hot in southern Ontario this summer, but Proven Winner’s Bright Lights Yellow Osteospermum looks terrific, despite the heat!

12/ Everyone loves large, glossy-leaved begonias, and PanAm’s new Megawatt series has performed beautifully at the Sawaya Trials this summer. Big, beefy plants with gorgeous foliage and an abundance of blooms have made these one of my favourite new introductions of 2016.

13/ People just don’t believe me when I tell them that Proven Winner’s newish Pansiola Series will actually keep its blooms in summer heat, and even thrive. Here’s proof. All the colours looked great, but Quartz is my favourite. I was discussing this with Ed Sobkowich, of Sobkowich Greenhouses in Grimsby, and John Gaydos, one of the top people at PW. They said the same thing. No one believes the summer performance of Pansiola.

14/ Some growers bemoan the high number of petunia series available these days. Well, when you see a stunning example like this – Syngenta’s Picnic White, a small-flowered type – it still makes you appreciate the flower power of a good, new-fashioned petunia.

15/ This is an example of new genetics in calendula, Kientzler’s Power Daisy. Beautiful, bountiful yellow blooms that hold up in extreme heat.

16/ I watched several people linger and admire this specimen of Syngenta’s Pinto Series seed geraniums. Orange Bicolor literally stopped people in their tracks.

17/ This is just a terrific example of Trend Red geranium, grown by Schenck Farms & Greenhouses. Covered in blooms, with a nice habit.

18/ UltraGrow does a beautiful job with bougainvillea. Here’s a nice example of Razzle Dazzle Red.

Brad McMillan is the territory manager of North, Central and Eastern‎ Ontario‎ for JVK, one of Canada’s leading suppliers to the horticulture industry. JVK is based in St. Catharines, Ontario, but provides sales, customer care‎ and logistics services across all of Canada. The corporate website and webstore is at www.jvk.net.
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