News on the Grow

August 9, 2002 - 11:37

It’s Bloom Time Again

Lectures In Bloom, that is. With the start of the summer
trade show season, the GPN/Syngenta Lectures in Bloom series is hitting the road,
with recent stops at the Southeast Greenhouse Show held June 20-22 and the Ohio
Short Course held July 13-17.

Normally a two-part series on managing greenhouse diseases
and pests with nationally recognized researchers Ann Chase, president of Chase
Research Gardens, and Jim Bethke, research associate at the University of
California-Riverside, Lectures In Bloom included a bonus session at the
Southeast Greenhouse Conference. The addition of a plant growth regulator
session that featured industry experts Jim Barrett, professor of floriculture
at the University of Florida and GPN’s consulting editor, and Roger
Styer, president of Styer’s Horticultural Consulting and author of
GPN’s “The Final Word” made for three sessions during the
3-day conference.

The idea behind Lectures in Bloom was to help regional
conferences in their quest to offer quality educational programs by bringing
researchers and growers together in a format conducive to discussion. The
three-hour sessions offered time for speakers to present findings from their
latest research and for growers to ask questions about problems they were
encountering in their greenhouses.

“Part of the GPN mission is to provide growers with
the best, most recent research that will help them produce a better product,”
said Bridget White, editor of GPN. “Syngenta felt the same way, and we
haven’t looked back since. This has been a great opportunity for us to
stand behind the education-based message we deliver every month in the
magazine.”

The two-year old educational seminar series, sponsored by
GPN and Syngenta Professional Products, will wrap up this year’s venues
at the Ornamentals Northwest Seminars, which are held in conjunction with the
FarWest trade show. Possible 2003 venues include the Southeast Greenhouse Conference,
the Ohio Short Course, the Nursery and Landscape Expo (formerly TAN) and the
Ornamentals Northwest Seminars.

SAF meeting highlights

The SAF Board of Directors meeting that took place in early
July highlighted the following agenda items:

ACIR renewal. The
Board renewed SAF’s membership in the Agriculture Coalition for
Immigration Reform (ACIR). “Passing immigration reform is critical due to
the high number of workers employed in agriculture without proper work
authorization,” says Board Member Janet Kister, Sunlet Nursery, Inc.,
Fallbrook, Calif. SAF has worked with ACIR and its other members for two years
toward H-2A guest worker immigration reform, which would help ensure an
adequate, legal workforce for greenhouses, nurseries and farms.

Duty-free neutrality.
The Board agreed to remain neutral in the Andean Trade Preference Act, which
allows flowers from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to enter the United
States duty-free. It also agreed that trade issues are very complex and require
analysis and evaluation on an individual basis to determine SAF’s
position.

Meeting member needs. Results of a recent, comprehensive
membership needs assessment survey determined that 70 percent of respondents
ranked the following as “extremely important”: promotion of the
industry to consumers (91 percent); consumer trends and information (83
percent); government advocacy (83 percent); and business education (79
percent).

AFE Consumer Study. The
Board agreed to continue to provide funding for the American Floral
Endowment’s Consumer Tracking Study, which tracks consumers’
purchases of floral products at all outlets throughout the year.

America in Bloom. The
Board agreed to support America in Bloom through the dissemination of
information to the industry. AIB is a national beautification program committed
to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification
through community participation and competition in participating communities
across the United States.

Golden Bouquet Award Renamed. The SAF Golden Bouquet Award is now the Paul Ecke Jr. Golden Bouquet
Award, beginning this year. First presented in 1984, the Award has become a
symbol of exemplary dedication to the floral profession, industry and
community. In appreciation of his service to the floral industry and to his
community of Encinitas, Calif., the award will remember Paul Ecke Jr., who died
on May 13, 2002.

Less paperwork: it’s the law

ANLA reports that the House of Representatives passed H.R.
327, The Small Business Paperwork Relief Act, in late June. This legislation is
aimed at reducing the paperwork burden and increasing the resources available
for small businesses. Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) originally sponsored the
bill, which was designed to lessen the ever-growing paperwork requirement
burden the federal government imposes on small businesses. According to the
Small Business Administration, small businesses spent close to $7,000 per
employee complying with federal paperwork last year. The bill includes a
requirement that each federal agency establish a single point of contact for
small businesses that need assistance, and a requirement that each agency make
further efforts to reduce paperwork for small businesses with fewer than 25
employees. The measure had previously passed the Senate and was signed into law
by President Bush on June 28.

Data validates FPO campaign’s effectiveness

The Flower Promotion Organization reports that its
“Flowers. Alive with Possibilities” campaign is successfully
bridging consumer purchase dynamics across all outlets, impartially increasing
purchase frequency and spending across traditional retail florists,
supermarkets, wire services, Internet and other outlets. Á

New data generated by the AFE-sponsored Ipsos-NPD Consumer
Tracking Study (for complete details, see the June issue of GPN’s sister
publication, Lawn & Garden Retailer) shows that the frequency of consumer
purchasing at the retail level increased among traditional retail florists and
supermarkets by 18.63 percent and 19.43 percent, respectively, compared to
control markets; consumer expenditures increased 19.9 percent in florists and
17.7 percent in supermarkets. This indicates that retailers in the FPO’s
target markets (Philadelphia, Houston, Chicago, Detroit and San Diego) experienced
nearly 20 percent more customer transactions and spending because of the
presence of FPO’s campaign. According to FPO, without this campaign,
retailers would have seen one-fifth fewer purchase opportunities for the
September 2000-October 2001 period. Coupled with the fact that FPO’s
campaign generated a statistically significant increase in other outlets, this
data seems to indicate that FPO’s message is driving up flower purchases
across all types of purchase venues.

Income distribution data also indicates that FPO’s
campaign is making an impact. Within traditional retail florists, 66.1 percent
of the additional purchases were generated by buyers with incomes less than
$49,000 per year. Since this income group is typically the less-frequent buyer
at the traditional retail florist, this data suggests that the FPO campaign is
helping expand the customer base for florists. Similarly, 66.5 percent of the
additional transactions at supermarkets were generated by the traditionally
infrequent supermarket floral buyer, those with incomes of $50,000-plus. The
data review demonstrates that the campaign is crossing income brackets and
impacting both lower- and higher-income groups, as well as encouraging existing
customers that traditionally haven’t been heavy floral buyers to start
purchasing more frequently.

“While we are thrilled to see the magnitude of the
impact,” said Anthony Vollering, co-chair of the FPO Board of Directors
from Sunshine Floral, Carpinteria, Calif., “we are not surprised to see
that it uniformly benefits all retail channels. That, in fact, was our
strategic goal from the start.”

Pest calculator

PestCalc for Windows, a dedicated pesticide rate calculation
and unit conversion program designed to do various pesticide-related
calculations, is now available through Agrosoft Systems, an agricultural
software development company based in Texas. PestCalc can compute the
following: calculations involving active ingredients; calculations involving
formulations; drench/foliar solution calculations for growth regulators and
retardants; greenhouse/storage bin fumigation calculations;
tractor-mounted/handheld sprayer calibration; miscellaneous sprayer
calculations; estimation of tank capacities; aircraft spray calibration;
temperature unit conversion; and area unit and broadcast-to-band rate
conversion.

For further details about this software, visit
http://agrosoft.

dns2go.com.

ANLA elects new president, board members

The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA)
recently elected a new president, treasurer, vice president, board members and
division presidents during the Annual Convention and Executive Learning Retreat
in San Diego. These individuals include: Wayne Mezitt, chairman of Weston
Nurseries Inc., Hopkinton, Mass. (president); Dale Bachman, president of
Bachman’s Inc., Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. (vice president); Buzz
Bertolero, Navlet’s Garden Centers, Pleasant Hills, Calif. (treasurer);
Joanne Kostecky, president/owner of Joanne Kostecky Garden Design Inc.,
Allentown, Pa. (region I director); Charlie Parkerson, president of Lancaster
Farms, Suffolk, Va. (region II director); and James Berry, general manager of
Plant Development Services Inc. and manager of Flowerwood Nurseries, Loxley,
Ala. (region V director).

Jacqueline Williams-Courtright, Alden Lane Nursery,
Livermore, Calif., was also recently elected to serve as ANLA’s National
Garden Center Organization (NGCO) president of the Board of Directors. The NGCO
is ANLA’s new retail division that will provide services and programs to
ANLA’s retail members.

De Vroomen dies at 72

Jacobus “Dick” De Vroomen, a long-time supplier
of flowerbulbs for Midwest gardens, died of heart failure on July 11 in The
Netherlands, at the age of 72. De Vroomen began selling flowerbulbs in the
United States in 1952; the De Vroomen line of Garden Joy flowerbulbs and
perennials are now found in garden centers and nurseries across the United
States.

De Vroomen began collecting Native American artifacts during
his travels in the United States, which are on display at his horse farm, the
“Puntenburg,” in Lisse. He raised Apaloosa horses, organizing
regular visits to his ranch for physically disabled children in the community
to ride the horses and enjoy nature. He was the charge d’affair for the
Dutch Olympic speed skating team for many years, traveling extensively with the
team. De Vroomen was honored by the Dutch in 1989 when the Queen in the Royal
Order of the Orange Nassau knighted him for his service to the country.
Although he retired in 1994, he continued with his community service by joining
the board of the Keukenhof foundation and continuing his work with children.

DeVroomen is survived by Puck, his wife of 47 years; a son,
Jack, and four daughters, Ank, Conny, Mirjam and Monique; and four
grandchildren, Oscar, Denise, Timo and Joey. Services were held in Lisse on
July 16. Donations can be made to a memorial fund in his name at the Chicago
Botanic Garden.

New blueberry offers better freeze protection

The Agricultural Research Service and University of Georgia
joint breeding program is releasing a new, early-season blueberry cultivar that
protects itself against late freeze damage by blooming later while still
delivering early fruit.

‘Alapaha’ ripens as early as
‘Climax,’ the most-popular early-season rabbiteye variety, but
Climax has been subject to moderate to severe freeze damage during bloom for at
least four of the last 10 years. Because Alapaha blooms later than Climax, it
receives up to 10 days more protection from freezes. Both cultivars ripen in
late May to mid-June.

The rabbiteye blueberry is grown on more than 95 percent of
the commercial blueberry acreage in the Southeastern United States and is the
more vigorous of the two types of blueberries producers grow in the region. The
other type, southern highbush, typically flowers and ripens earlier.

According to James M. Spiers, a horticulturist at the ARS
and University of Georgia Small Fruit Research Station, Poplarville, Miss.,
Alapaha is more vigorous and grows faster than Climax. It also produces
significantly more stems after harvest that renew the plant and develop new
fruit the following year. Alapaha’s berries are medium-sized with
excellent firmness, color, flavor and small dry scars that help give berries a
longer shelf life. Spiers says Alapaha will be available for commercial growers
and home gardens in the fall of 2003 and should be widely available in markets
within a few years.

Named after the Alapaha River, Alapaha is the first of
several new cultivars to be named after south Georgia rivers that are scheduled
for release during the next five years.

Spotted knapweed herbicide isolated

A horticulture professor at Colorado State University has
identified and isolated a chemical in spotted knapweed that acts as a natural
herbicide to kill weeds. According to Jorge Vivanco, assistant professor of
horticultural biotechnology at Colorado State, scientists have spoken of
spotted knapweed releasing this chemical, called catechin, for years, but could
not find it in the soil because it was almost impossible to separate from other
compounds that occur naturally in the soil. “We looked for it in the
plant,” he said. “Spotted knapweed releases catechin into the soil
through its roots.”

Vivanco and a team of researchers at Colorado State are now
investigating a number of applications for the chemical. They have discovered
that the weed produces two types of catechin that are the same chemical
compound, but one has anti-bacterial properties and the other acts as a natural
herbicide.

Catechin acts as a natural herbicide to most other plants,
although grasses and grassy-like plants, such as wheat, do display some
resistance to it. This could mean that specific amounts of catechin could be
used on lawns to kill weeds without killing grass or on wheat without damaging
the crop. Catechin kills other species of knapweed, such as diffuse knapweed,
which is also a noxious weed. It is fatal to spotted knapweed only when
manually inserted into its cells in a laboratory. In nature, spotted knapweed
cells do not permit catechin to reenter the plant once the chemical is produced
and released into the soil.

The Colorado State team has found that spraying catechin on
plants or adding it to soil is as effective as 2,4-D against pigweed, lambs
quarters and other common weeds. Catechin usually kills cells within the plants
in an hour and kills the plants in approximately one week, but the team is
still investigating the length of time it remains active in the soil to
prohibit plant growth. The researchers are working with commercial companies to
make spotted knapweed catechin spray available to consumers within 1-2 years.
Colorado State researchers are also working to transfer the genes that produce
the natural chemical into other plants to give them a built-in defense
mechanism against weeds.

Short Course breaks records, OFA name re-packaged

The OFA Short Course broke all previous attendance records
this July with a total of 10,499, representing an increase of nearly 400
attendees from 2001. Industry professionals were also out in full force on the
1,283-booth tradeshow floor, another record increase from 2001, as 50 booth
spaces were added to the show, and 107 new companies came in as exhibitors.

During the event, the OFA Board voted to
“re-package” OFA’s external image as “OFA — an
association of floriculture professionals.” According to Executive
Director John R. Holmes, CAE, “This re-packaging is a direct result of
OFA President Joe Boarini’s committee challenge to consider what OFA is
about and whether the name reflects it. The resounding response was that the
name was not reflective of the national nature of our professional floriculture
membership.” With 77 percent of OFA’s members outside the state of
Ohio, it seemed the name was not truly representative of the
association’s national scope.

The new “packaging” will allow OFA to maintain
its core branding while creating new marketing opportunities and will debut
January 1, 2003.

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