2015 Greenhouse Growers Expo features sessions on diverse topics

The 2015 Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, in coordination with the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo, will feature numerous sessions for greenhouse floriculture and vegetable growers. The Greenhouse Growers Expo will be held Dec. 8-9, 2015, at the DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Highlights of this year’s conference will include information on production practices, how to become more profitable and reduce inputs, and how to grow niche crops.

Entry-level employees will learn the fundamentals of floriculture crop production from Roberto Lopez of Purdue University. The session will be offered in Spanish and English. Growers and assistant growers will also be interested in:

  • Grower experiences with insect biocontrol for spring crops – a panel presentation
  • Greenhouse disease control update
  • Greenhouse insect control update and the latest neonicotinoid research results
  • Growing leafy greens and herbs in hydroponic systems
  • Keys to successful containerized herb production

Owners or general managers of greenhouse businesses will be interested in sessions on how to boost their profits, cut their input costs and learn how to manage their businesses. Owners or managers will be interested in:

  • How I grew my business: Recent adaptations we’ve made to stay competitive and profitable – a panel presentation
  • Conventional lamps or LEDs? Factors you should consider
  • Boomers or bust? Drawing GenX and GenY to the garden center
  • Marketing strategies for novices, intermediates and experts
  • Best performing annuals from the 2015 Michigan Garden Plant Tour
  • How to reduce your fertilizer use
  • MSU floriculture research update
  • Transitioning your business
  • Are using good bugs a cost-effective strategy for controlling insect pests of spring crops?
  • Labor sessions: Review of seasonal labor supply for Michigan specialty crops, H2A and MIOSHA consultation
  • Family business workshop: The Top Ten Mistakes that Break up a Family Business (Dec. 10)

In addition to the two talks on containerized herbs and leafy greens, greenhouse vegetable growers will be interested in the following sessions in the vegetable and general interests track:

  • Prepare now, sweat less later: Key elements of greenhouse sanitation
  • Cucumber production
  • Pollination in the greenhouse
  • Leafy greens production
  • Food safety: FSMA final rules, environmental sampling in packhouses, sanitizer options for dunk tanks
  • Food safety workshop (three-hour, hands-on workshop on Dec. 10, additional $25)

For an overview of the educational sessions at the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo, visit the 2015 Greenhouse Growers Expo website. Visit the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo website for additional information, including the large trade show and how to register.

Michigan Greenhouse Expo to offer basics of floriculture production in Spanish

By Tom Dudek
Senior Extension Horticulture/ Marketing Educator
MSU Extension-Ottawa County
Telephone: 616-994-4542
Email: dudek@anr.msu.edu


A new training opportunity will be available to entry-level, Spanish-speaking greenhouse workers employed in floriculture operations in Michigan in December. According to Michigan State University Extension, The Basics of Floriculture Crop Production will be offered in Spanish at the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo at the Devos Place downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015.

This two-hour educational session will be taught by Roberto Lopez, floriculture extension specialist at Purdue University’s Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Department. Lopez has designed this entry-level presentation for workers that need the fundamentals of greenhouse crop production. Topics will include watering, fertility, substrate pH and EC, plant growth regulators and management of light and temperature. The importance of each parameter and effects on overall crop quality will be shared in this session.

I encourage all greenhouse growers send any Spanish-speaking workers to this program that they want to help improve or enhance their skills.. Registration details and the full program is available at Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo website.

The same program will be offered Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. in English by Lopez.

Take the Greenhouse Bioproducts Survey Today!

The Ohio State University would like to invite you to participate in a survey on bioproducts used in the greenhouse production of ornamental and vegetable plants at http://go.osu.edu/ghbioproducts.  This survey will provide valuable feedback to set research priorities and assist in the development of educational materials on bioproducts for the industry.  The survey will involve approximately 10 minutes of your time.  If you would like additional information, have specific comments or questions, please contact Beth Scheckelhoff, OSU Extension Educator for Greenhouse Systems at 419-592-0806 or at Scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu.

Greenhouse Bioproducts Workshop

The rapid growth of the bioproducts market is outpacing the dissemination of knowledge on how to integrate these different products into a sustainable and profitable greenhouse production system. A coordinated effort is needed to address the research and educational needs of the greenhouse industry relative to bioproducts. This workshop will bring together industry and academic leaders to present research and develop a strategic vision for bioproduct use in the greenhouse industry. Participants will identify perceived obstacles to the adoption of bioproducts by the greenhouse industry and work to resolve these problems with targeted research projects and educational programs.


January 13-15th 2016
Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center
Columbus, OH

Bioproducts workshop flyer

January 13th, 2016
Research presentations and stakeholders panel discussion, FREE FOR THE FIRST 75 REGISTRANTS

  • Update on current use of biopesticides, biostimulants, and beneficial insects
  • Application technologies
  • Economic analysis – cost/benefits, consumer preferences
  • Stakeholders panel discussion – greatest benefits and barriers to the use of bioproducts in commercial greenhouses

January 14-15th, 2016
Grant development activities

  • Working groups with breakout sessions
  • SCRI proposal plan

To register, visit: http://go.osu.edu/bioreg


The following industry, academic, and greenhouse collaborators have confirmed their attendance to date:
DRAMM Corporation, AmericanHort, Biobest, BioWorks, Chase Agricultural Consulting, University of California Cooperative Extension, OSU Extension, C. Wayne Ellett Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic, IR-4 Ornamental Horticulture, USDA-ARS, The Center for Applied Horticulture Research (CA), Altman Plants (CA), C. Rakers & Sons (MI), Metrolina Greenhouses (NC), Green Circle Growers (OH)

For general workshop information contact Eileen Ramsay (ramsay.18@osu.edu).  For information on the SCRI grant development (Jan 14-15) contact Michelle Jones (jones.1968@osu.edu).  This workshop is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture SCRI Planning Grant – Award # 2015-51181-24284.

Poinsettias on Cruise Control

By Dr. Claudio Pasian, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science

The Ohio State University

Are your poinsettias on “cruise control”?  This is a dangerous time for poinsettias because owners and head growers can become complacent and forget some simple, basic but important cultural practices that contribute to a great poinsettia crop.

“Remember what you already know,” is easy to say.  In reality, you are very busy, and like many of us, take care of the urgencies first, often neglecting the important.  Reading this article should be like going to the doctor for an annual physical exam.  You know what the doctor will tell you before going to the visit:  stop smoking, eat healthy food, exercise, reduce stress, etc.  Do you follow the doctor’s advice?  Going to the doctor helps reinforce the importance of having a healthy lifestyle. Well, with growing plants, it is the same.  It can be difficult to practice all that you know about growing poinsettias.

To have a high quality crop at sales time, many things have to be done right.

To have a high quality crop at sales time, many things have to be done right.

Do you know the idiosyncrasies of the poinsettia cultivars you are growing?   Breeding companies provide a wide selection of cultivars (cultivated varieties) that allow growers to satisfy different sections of their market.  Each cultivar is not only different in its looks but also have different cultural requirements.  How familiar are you with those requirements?  How familiar are your head grower and other key employees?  In the same vein, do you have a good rapport with the person in charge of technical support in the company, which owns the genetics you are growing?  It is never too late to establish good working relationship.

Scheduling.  The multitude of poinsettia cultivars that growers have available nowadays is a blessing to satisfy a variety of customers, but it requires growers to follow different scheduling regimes.  Not doing so may result in poor quality plants.  When to stick, when to pot, when to pinch, when to start short days, and when to ship: a “one size fits all” approach does not work.  You need to know the optimum treatment for each cultivar.

The beginning influences the end.  The quality of your rooted or unrooted cuttings plays a big role in the quality of your final poinsettia crop. If you have stock plants, you are responsible for the quality of the cuttings.  If you buy them, you have to select the company that will provide the high-quality cuttings you need.  What to watch for and control when rooting cuttings: Rooting temperature (72-75°F); adequate mist on the leaves by adjusting it to weather conditions; adequate light levels (1200 – 1500 foot-candles); and watch for Botrytis, Pythium, Erwinia, and fungus gnats.

Poinsettia cuttings being rooted.  This is a critical stage because it will ensure a good start of the poinsettia crop.

Poinsettia cuttings being rooted. This is a critical stage because it will ensure a good start of the poinsettia crop.

The 1-2-3 of poor roots.  One of the keys for a high-quality crop is having good roots.  A variety of factors influence the quality of the roots.  Among them is 1) poor growing mix, with low air porosity that retains too much water.  Compounding this factor is 2) poor irrigation management.  By keeping the growing mix too wet we favor 3) Pythium.  The spores of this pathogen require free water to swim and attack the roots.  As mentioned above, starting the crop with poor quality rooted cuttings may result in a poor root system.  If plants do not have a good root system by the middle of October, little can be done to improve it afterwards.

Temperatures.  Almost all growers know to give their poinsettia plants the appropriate day and night temperatures. However, when was the last time that the temperature sensors in your operation were calibrated?  Are sensors placed close to the plants?  Are sensors protected from direct solar radiation?  Like a car, instruments need maintenance and need to be used properly.

Fertility.  Poinsettias are considered “heavy feeders.”  Fertilizers should be applied at a rate of 150 to 250 ppm nitrogen (N).  More than 75% of that N should be nitrate-N.  When using the pour-through method, electrical conductivity (EC) should be between 2.25 and 3.75 mS/cm. Molybdenum (Mo) is a micronutrient required by all plants. Poinsettias require high levels of this nutrient unlike other plants that require very small amounts.  Growers need to be sure the fertilizer they are using has the right amount of Mo in the formulation.  When Mo deficiency occurs, a corrective action is required.  Drenching with a solution of sodium molybdate or ammonium molybdate at 77 ppm (77 g sodium molybdate or 54 g ammonium molybdate per 100 gallons of water) should correct the problem.

Low levels of calcium (Ca) will favor stem breakage and cause bract burn.  During cloudy, low light level days, calcium does not move in the right amounts into the leaves or bracts. The result will be “bract edge burn” later in the season.  To avoid this problem, growers start using calcium nitrate as a fertilizer and spray bracts with calcium chloride at a rate of 200 – 400 ppm calcium with a spreader sticker.

Fertilizer Injector. Growers should calibrate their fertilizer injectors.  They may need both calibration and replacement of some parts.  As stated above, all equipment requires periodical maintenance.  By the time the grower discovers that an injector is not working properly, it may be too late to achieve a quality poinsettia crop.  Being proactive is very important.

Scout!  Scout!  Scout!  Poinsettias are the ideal crop to prove that “Murphy’s Law” is real.  So many things can go wrong with poinsettias. The only way for growers to be successful is to constantly scout the crop.  Scout for insects and diseases.  This includes looking with a magnifier if necessary at the sticky cards, leaves, stems, and the roots of the plants by removing the pots.

Pythium.  This is a very common problem for poinsettias.  Growers need to apply (drench) a fungicide as a preventative and periodically check the roots.  If symptoms of Pythium are present, more treatments are required. It is common that plants with roots severely infested with Pythium look “normal” (above ground) in the greenhouse.  However, when these plants are moved out of the greenhouse to a more stressful environment, they immediately wilt because they do not have a functional root system to uptake water.

Pests and diseases.  Several pest and diseases can affect poinsettia crops.  That topic is beyond the scope of this article; however, if you experience any problems, please feel free to contact The Ohio State University plant pathologist, Dr. Francesca Hand, at hand.81@osu.edu and our entomologist, Dr. Luis Cañas, at canas.4@osu,edu.

Take home message.  Hopefully, after reading this article, poinsettia growers will realize that there is no such thing as a poinsettia crop on “cruise control.”  Too many things can go wrong. Detecting problems before they become advanced is the formula for success.  So, start scouting, follow it by more scouting, and then scout even more