New Greenhouse Will Concentrate on More Environmentally Friendly Insect Controls
OVERTON – A new greenhouse largely funded by the Texas nursery plant industry will research ways to reduce chemical use and increase biological control of insect and other pests, said Texas AgriLife Extension Service experts.
The greenhouse, which was built on the grounds of the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton, was dedicated to industry leaders in a brief ceremony July 10. Attendees included commercial nursery owners and their families, and faculty from AgriLife Extension and Texas AgriLife Research.
"The greenhouse will be used to conduct research on integrated pest management techniques to support the East Texas bedding plant and nursery industry," said Dr. Scott Ludwig, AgriLife Extension entomologist and integrated pest management specialist based at Overton.
Integrated pest management, commonly known as " IPM," strives to use less chemical pesticides by correct timing of applications, pest identification and biological controls.
In Smith, Cherokee, Henderson and Van Zandt counties, the industry has wholesale gate receipts of $300 million, with a proportionally larger total economic impact on the region, Ludwig said.
As the Northeast Texas Greenhouse and Nursery Growers have members as far west as Dallas who will benefit from the work done at the greenhouse, the economic impact is even larger, said Dr. Roland Smith, associate director of AgriLife Extension.
The greenhouse and nursery industry is big business in Texas agriculture, ranking third in terms of cash receipts behind only beef cattle and cotton, Smith said.
"In 2007, the Northeast Texas Greenhouse and Nursery Growers were responsible for about three quarters of a billion dollars of cash receipts for their industry," Smith said. "This amounts to about 40 percent of the state’s total of greenhouse and nursery output."
The greenhouse was funded by the Northeast Texas Nursery Growers Association Memorial fund, which members started to honor association members who have passed away, said James Wilhite, owner of Wilhite Landscaping and Lawn Care, Tyler.
"Each time there is a benefit from this experimental greenhouse, we’ll remember the friends that have passed on before us that have made the nursery and landscape industry such a pleasurable place to work," Wilhite said.
One of those remembered will be Floyd Trammel, owner of Tram Tex Nursery Incorporated in Tyler. Trammel, who was one of the founding members of the Northeast Texas Nursery Growers Association, died in November 2007.
"We’ve lost several of our fellow nurserymen last year, along with my father, said Cyndi Trammel, who now manages Tram Tex.
"Our nursery is doing very well and being very successful because we have places like this that will do the testing for us," Trammel said. "As you can imagine running a full-time growing operation, it would be very difficult for us to set up a lab like this and be able to run the tests and do them effectively."
Trammel said she favors using environmental pest controls whenever possible because they're safer for workers to use.
Ludwig said the research will benefit growers statewide. "As the public demand for organic and sustainable-produced plants increase, it is important that growers have the know-how to meet the needs of the market," Ludwig said. "This facility will enable AgriLife Extension to conduct research that will aid growers to produce healthier plants for landscapes and homes.
The new greenhouse built at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton will be used to conduct research on integrated pest management techniques to support the East Texas bedding plant and nursery industry. Among those attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony were (from left), Dr. Karl Steddom, AgriLife Extension plant pathologist, Martin Farnsworth, Kenny Bonded Warehouse, Ben Fisher, Tawakoni Plant Farm, Jade Hopson, Circle C Nursery, and Herman Vess, Bruce Miller Farms. (Texas AgriLife Extension Photo by Robert Burns)
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