Commercial flower growers face many crucial problems related to pest and disease management, fertilization, governmental regulations and environmental impact. New studies to address some of these issues promise great strides in combating significant growing challenges in an environmentally friendly manner.
The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC), through the Kee Kitayama Research Foundation (KKRF), has awarded $37,500 to five research projects for 2005. “This new research is extremely exciting,” says Lee Murphy, CCFC president. “We are very pleased to support some top-notch scientists in these endeavors.”
The awards are as follows:
$10,000 to the development of a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management system for gerberas, with emphasis on reduced-risk pesticides and biological control. The investigators are Karen Robb, UCCE San Diego; Julie Newman, UCCE Ventura and Santa Barbara; Steve Tjosvold, UCCE Monterey and Santa Cruz; and Vanessa Carne-Cavagnaro, UCD. Gerberas are highly susceptible to some of the worst greenhouse pests. Since California produces more than 90 percent of the domestically grown cut gerberas, investigators will refine an IPM system for gerberas by developing identification guides, more robust and economically practical sampling plans and by continuing to evaluate new and existing biological control agents for problematic pests, such as whitefly. The research will serve as a model system for cut and potted floriculture crops statewide in California.
$10,000 to investigate the impacts of Encarsia pergandiella on whitefly biological control in greenhouses. The investigator is David Headrick, Cal Poly SLO. Whiteflies are a key pest in most greenhouses and many growers use natural enemies, particularly Eretmocerus eremicus, for whitefly control. Coastal area growers face a unique problem in that Encarsia pergandiella, a native parasitoid associated with whiteflies, independently enter the greenhouses to attack whitefly populations. E. pergandiella can interfere with the efforts of E. pergandiella , actually reducing overall control of whiteflies. Headrick will conduct behavioral studies to determine the impact of the invaders and determine the best management options for whitefly biological control in the presence of E. pergandiella.
$7,500 to determine the potential horticultural and disease management benefits of silicon fertilization of gerberas. The investigator is Lawrence Datnoff, UC Florida-IFAS, in cooperation with Stephen Wegulo, UC, Riverside. The element silicon has been shown to enhance growth and reduce disease in a number of crops and recently it was shown to enhance the growth and appearance of some ornamental crops, such as gerberas. The purpose of this study is to determine whether silicon will have disease suppression effects on gerbera, as well. If proven, the dual benefit from using silicon (better quality and reduced disease) will save growers time and money, increase profits and reduce reliance on fungicides.
$5,000 to study biofilters as a management option for greenhouse and nursery water runoff. The investigators are Valerie Mellano, Karen Robb and David Shaw, UCCE San Diego. Because of provisions in the Federal Clean Water Act, growers need to capture irrigation and other water, which is not usually appropriate for use on crops or many landscape ornamentals. Some growers treat nursery water with a desalination process, which produces a salty “brine” that must be disposed of. This study will look at plants that can tolerate low-quality/high-salt water that can be planted and use the water before it runs off the property.
$5,000 to help sponsor the attendance of graduate students and young scientists at the VIII International Symposium on Thysanoptera and Tospoviruses. The grant goes to Diane Ullman, UC Davis, and Karen Robb, UCCE San Diego, who are conference organizers. Thrips and tospoviruses negatively impact floral industries worldwide. The symposium will provide a global forum for exchanging information and building partnerships between entomologists and virologists dedicated to developing applied and sustainable management of the double threat.
Industry research is an important function of the CCFC, which administers KKRF, and grants are awarded on a yearly basis. Since its inception, the CCFC has awarded close to $1.2 million in research grants. “We’ve also been a catalyst in raising other research funds through USDA CEREES, DPR, EPA and various chemical companies,” says Murphy. “All sources considered, we’ve raised somewhere between $1.5-2 million for research.” For more information on the CCFC, visit www.ccfc.org.