Q Can I afford to use PGRs on my herbaceous perennials this spring?
A The real question is, can you afford not to use PGRs this spring? Now is the time to start planning your production strategy for your spring perennials. With rising energy, labor and shipping costs, you need to maximize your efficiency and reduce your costs of production. PGRs can help do both, but to maximize those benefits, now is the time to make your plans for using PGRs on spring crops. Your production plan should include which crops, which PGR and how much you expect to need for each crop, just like your irrigation or fertilization plans. So, what are your resources? First, based on your own experience or expectations, identify the crops that will need additional growth control. Use the Perennial PGR Database on the GPN website (www.gpnmag.com/index.cfm/fa-showPGRSearchForm ) or the North Carolina State University 2008 PGR Guide (www.fine-americas.com/DocFrame/DocView.asp?id=494&sec=-1 ) to estimate rates for your problem crops. Then use the NCSU PGR Calculator (www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/floriculture/software ) to estimate the costs of those applications. This spreadsheet allows you to input your own PGR costs then calculates the cost — and you can compare costs of various PGRs and methods of application. With the knowledge of your labor costs and availability, calculate the total costs of using PGRs. Then compare that to the additional labor and square-foot costs for spacing and shipping larger plants. In most cases, you will find that PGRs more than pay for themselves. In addition, you will get higher-quality, more saleable plants that will better fit your shipping carts and withstand shipping stresses.
Q Can Fascination be used in propagation to reduce leaf yellowing?
A For unrooted cuttings shipped into the United States, there are potential problems with leaf yellowing developing a few days after sticking. These leaves then have to be cleaned up to avoid disease issues, and in some cases, this results in slower rooting. Geraniums are the poster child for this because the numbers are big and leaf yellowing is a problem in propagation. The problem develops because of ethylene during shipping and handling, and the yellowing is due to breakdown of chlorophyll in the leaves. Fascination contains 6BA, a cytokinin, and GA4+7 (gibberellins). Another product that contains 6BA and GA4+7 is Fresco. Cytokinins are known to reduce chlorophyll breakdown; these products were first registered to reduce lower-leaf yellowing in lilies. It turned out that the GA is what works on lilies. A few years ago, we did a series of studies aimed at the potential of using cytokinins to reduce the leaf yellowing in geraniums — it worked. An important issue is that cytokinins can reduce or slow rooting. But it seems that some have picked up on this idea and are making it work. They will accept a few days of delayed rooting for much cleaner cuttings. Fascination can be sprayed on the cuttings the day after sticking at a rate of 2-3 ppm. Make sure the spray does not run down the stem to the base, which can cause additional rooting problems. And don’t dip the cuttings in Fascination prior to sticking. If you consider yourself an early adopter of new ideas and enjoy working out details for new techniques, then try this and see how it works. Read and follow label directions, which vary in different states.