November 12, 2015 By Dr. Sarah Jandricic
December 2015 — The first ever Ontario Container Trial and Workshop attracted over 30 growers and consultants to Vineland to see new ornamental varieties and hear presentations from floriculture research experts.
Rodger Tschanz (University of Guelph) – with help from retired OMAFRA staffer Wayne Brown – went over the highlights of new ornamental cultivars.
From Vineland, Dr. Alex Grygorczyk discussed plans to determine which flower varieties are most popular with the growing Asian-Canadian community. They’re in the midst of running the survey now, so data should be rolling in!
My own talk focused on which container flower varieties were most susceptible to thrips. The good news is that most of the 35 varieties sampled at three different growing locations experienced very little thrips pressure (even when living in the middle of a bug-infested research greenhouse!).
Lobularias and verbena are known thrips attractors. But one surprise was that the petunia variety ‘Watermelon Charm’ also attracted a lot of thrips. If you choose these plants as part of your spring crop next year, consider using them as indicator plants to determine when to treat for thrips. Or, think about starting with additional thrips protection on these plants in the form of greater numbers of predatory mites.
However, the highlight of the day was definitely Dr. Besty Lamb’s visit, who came up from Cornell University’s New York State IPM Program with the promise of Canadian butter tarts.
The greenhouse research team at Cornell (Drs. Neil Mattson, John Sanderson, Brian Eshenaur and Lamb) have been hard at work examining how biological control will function in
energy-saving, cool-temperature greenhouse production. They’ve confirmed that supression of fungus gnats by the beneficial nematode Steinernema feltiae can still be achieved at temperatures as low as 13 C.
Their research also addresses other industry concerns, like climbing fertilizer prices and legislation surrounding nitrogen and phosphorus runoff. Preliminary results from Lamb suggest that using controlled-release fertilizers (which can reduce nutrient leaching) has the added benefit of reducing aphid population growth in some greenhouse crops. Research is ongoing to examine the relationship between plant species, fertilizer type, and aphid outbreaks.
Overall, the Ontario Container Trial and Workshop offered participants a plethora of information, from production to pest management. With continued interest from the floriculture community, we hope to continue this tradition next year.
Dr. Sarah Jandricic is the greenhouse floriculture IPM specialist with OMAFRA. Sarah.Jandricic@ontario.ca
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