In my last newsletter, Jim Barrett of the University of Florida shared some insight with us about poinsettia trends he observed while traveling in Europe. With this season's poinsettia production nearing its end, this is a great time to review some of the poinsettia trials that have taken place over the past couple months.
Michael Foster of Dan Schantz Farm & Greenhouses in Zionsville, Pa. was kind enough to share some of the results from their poinsettia trials, which took place on Nov. 14. Here's what he had to say:
Perhaps as a grower you have been wondering why it would benefit you to attend a poinsettia trial, and the simple answer to that question is information and experience. The poinsettia trial is the perfect place for a grower to gain information about a large variety of cultivars with only a little investment of time and money. Experimenting with new untried cultivars is something that many growers don’t have the time or the money to pursue since it would have a direct impact on the bottom line of their organization if it did not work out.
The trial is also a great opportunity to “pick the brain” of those growers who spent the last several months growing the many cultivars on display and finding out from them what worked, what didn’t work and how they achieved the results that they did with the poinsettias.
Members of the horticulture industry were called on to act as judges during the trial and to spotlight a few of the cultivars that really stood out from the rest as examples of best in class plants. Those judged as best were 'Da Vinci' from Syngenta, which was judged as Best Novelty poinsettia. The Best Pink poinsettia was 'Christmas Feelings Pink', the Best Red poinsettia was 'Christmas Season Red' and the Best White poinsettia was 'Candlelight White' (all three from Selecta). Best of the Greenhouse went to 'Alreddy Red' from Beekenkamp and Best of Farm was 'Premium Red' from the Dümmen.
'Da Vinci' 'Christmas Feelings Pink'
'Alreddy Red' 'Premium Red'
During the trials this year at Dan Schantz Farms, Augeo — a plant growth regulator developed by OHP, Inc. — was tested to determine whether or not the application of this product could eliminate the need for manual pinching of the poinsettias. The manual pinching of poinsettias is a labor intensive process that on a large crop can take days to complete with each pincher making judgment calls about where and how to cut the plant. With the process being so subjective in terms of each individual pincher, the resulting crop may lack the uniformity that is desired.
Applying Augeo is a way to reduce manual labor costs by allowing the grower to chemically pinch the poinsettias with a spray application as opposed to manually cutting each individual plant. Paul Hardiman, head grower at Dan Schantz Farms, was encouraged by the results of the chemically pinched plants and said that, "The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of using Augeo to pinch your crop.” He adds, “Growers should still use caution when using Augeo because not all cultivars that are sprayed with Augeo will deliver the same results.” So attending poinsettia trials such as this one will allow a grower to see PGR results on a wide variety of cultivars without having to go through the testing process themselves.
For more information on the 2014 poinsettia trials as it becomes available click here: www.poinsettiatrial.com .
Have you been to any poinsettia trials this year, or have you participated in any trials of your own? I would love to hear about which varieties were stand outs and which applications controlled plants best. E-mail me at email@example.com  anytime; I'd love to hear from you.
— Jasmina