Southeastern Ornamental Horticulture Production and Integrated Pest Management

News alerts and tips from Southeastern universities.

2016 Center for Applied Nursery Research Grants Announced


Congratulations to the following researchers on their successful grant proposals in 2016. Research projects focus on agricultural engineering, environment and plant microclimate monitoring, entomology, plant pathology, soil science, horticulture, plant breeding and evaluation, new product evaluation, propagation, and water managemen. There are 5 funded projects for the year 2012 directed by researchers from the University of Georgia, and University of Florida.

The results of the research conducted at CANR benefit the entire industry. All results are published on the CANR website and presented at the Georgia Green Industry Trade Show in January.

The Center for Applied Nursery Research is open to all and presents a wonderful opportunity to observe new plant material and visually experience the projects in progress in addition to reading the final reports following project completion.

CANR is funded by special events and donations from industry and individuals. With continued support from the industry, the Center can continue to fund and provide a site for horticulture research in Georgia and the Southeast. For more information on how you can support CANR click_here

The 2016 Projects are:

Evaluating five improved genotypes of cotoneasters for container production in southeastern U.S.

Ryan Contreras

Over the past 15-20 years, production of cotoneasters has declined due to a variety of reasons, not the least of which has been a lack of breeding for improved varieties.  As Dirr points out, there are a number of problems with the genus including fire blight caused by Erwinia amylovora.  I have developed a number of selection that have proven resistant to fire blight in our greenhouse inoculation studies.  I have propagated these selections and grown them in limited numbers.  Industry input in Oregon on these selections has been extremely positive.  They root at high percentage (all >90%) and progress through production very fast; one selection in particular rooted and was transplanted into a #1 container in 1 month.  I believe these selections have potential to revive a “workhorse” genus and provide a crop for growers nationwide including areas where fire blight has limited their potential.  The objective of the proposed research is to grow these five selections alongside two industry cultivars and evaluate their production scheduling and resistance to disease (fire blight), insect (lace bug), and environmental stress (heat).

Longevity and efficacy of pre-emergent herbicides

Dr. Mark Czarnota

University of Georgia

There are many herbicide available to the nursery industry, but little scientific research has been performed to determine the longevity of the herbicide in soil-less media.  It is often thought that most preemergence herbicide provide approximately 30 to 40 days of control where weed seed growth is inhibited, and the additional month or two of weed control is just time that no weed infestation is present.  To determine the length of time that a herbicide provides weed free growth, replanting of weeds seed needs to occur weekly until no weed control is observed.  The objective of this study is to test the longevity of select herbicides on the control of select weeds, and determine the actual length of weed control that an individual herbicide can be expected to provide.


Automating leaching fraction measurements to improve water conservation, fertilizer efficiency, and plant growth during container nursery production

Amy Fulcher

Water is an essential input for container nursery crop production.  The threat of regulation, poor water quality, periodic drought, and competition for water make managing water resources a critical aspect of container nursery management.


Measuring leachate and calculating leaching fraction (leachate volume/total irrigation volume) is an effective way to determine irrigation volume and can be used to improve irrigation scheduling. Determining the leaching fraction of one plant during one irrigation cycle is typically done by manually capturing and measuring the irrigation water volume and the leachate coming out of the bottom of the container. Other methods include weighing the leachate and irrigation water, and aggregating leachate on a collection pad from multiple plants before measuring. However, manual methods of leachate measurement are time and labor intensive and therefore difficult to perform at a nursery on a scale suitable to capture day-to-day and plant-to-plant variation. Furthermore, these methods are only functional at a small scale; they would be difficult to adapt to a large-scale outdoor nursery environment under overhead irrigation.


Our objective is to design and develop automated leachate gauges that will function in an outdoor nursery setting with overhead irrigation and deliver accurate, real time data that can be used to schedule irrigation.  The proposed system will automatically adjust irrigation run time to maintain a leaching fraction of 10-20%.


Chemical fate of phosphorus in containerized nursery crop production

James Owen, Jake Shreckhise, and Alex Niemiera

Virgina Tech,

A complete fractionation of phosphorus (P) (i.e. total phosphorus, orthophosphate, dissolved phosphorus and insoluble phosphorus) in pore-water (i.e., solution residing in container substrate pores) of amended and non-amended soilless substrate has not yet been performed; furthermore, the determined fraction of total leachate phosphorus in the form of orthophosphate (plant available P) has been inconsistent between studies (Million et al. 2007; Ristvey et al., 2004). Fractioning pore-water phosphorus will provide insight on short-term quantity of plant available phosphorus in pore-water, as well as the immediate bioavailability of P leached from soilless substrate. We hypothesize that not all pore-water phosphorus is immediately plant available. Thus, our results would allow us to make fertilization recommendations based on plant available phosphorus rather than total phosphorus in pore-water. Additionally, determining the proportion of dissolved and insoluble phosphorus in leachate would aid in our understanding of the container nursery’s environmental impact due to phosphorus runoff. Therefore, our objectives are to determine (1) the concentration and form of phosphorus in pore-water of lime- and micronutrient-amended and non-amended pine bark when fertilized with controlled-release fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium AND (2) the effect of pine bark source (i.e., supplier) on pore-water phosphorus form and concentration when fertilized with controlled-release fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Preliminary experimentation at Virgina Tech in our laboratory has shown a dramatic effect of amendments on leached P fractions warranting a need for continued research described within this proposal.

Container Production Techniques of Syzygium buxifolium, An Alternative to Buxus

Donglin Zhang

University of Georgia,

Recently, boxwood blight, a devastating fungus disease (Cylindrocladium buxixola), has been reported in Georgia and 15 additional states and its alternatives are desperately needed. Syzygium buxifolium from central China shares similar ornamental features as boxwood, but is resistant to boxwood blight because it belongs to Myrtaceae. The objectives are 1) to evaluate Syzygium performance in container, 2) to investigate container production strategy for Syzygium, and 3) to address the production schedule of Syzygium as a potential new plant.

2016 Georgia Commercial Pesticide Applicator Handbook Released

Download entire pdfs for the current edition of commercial handbooks. Includes volumes 1 and 2, as well as a pdf that combines both volumes into one file. Also included is information on using the pdfs on mobile devices.

Includes all sections in VOLUME 1 of the 2016 Commercial Edition of the Georgia Pesticide Management Handbook in one pdf (475 pages) with bookmarks. Has recommendations for pest control on Field Corn; Cotton; Fruit & Nuts; Grain Millet; Grain Sorghum; Insecticidal Transgenic Crops (PIPs); Peanut; Soybean; Sugar Cane; Sunflower; Tobacco; and Vegetables. Cultural, biological, physical, and other types of control are recommended where appropriate. Standard front of book” material is also included.

GA Pest Management Handbook 2016 – Volume 2
Includes all sections in VOLUME 2 of the 2016 Commercial Edition of the Georgia Pesticide Management Handbook in one pdf (497 pages) with bookmarks. Has recommendations for pest control on Animals; Alfalfa; Aquatic Environments; Canola; Clover; Humans (Mosquito Control); Lespedeza; Non-Cropland; Ornamentals’ Perennial Grass; Small Grains; Stored Products; Temporary Grazing; Trees; Turfgrass; Vertebrates. Cultural, biological, physical, and other types of control are recommended where appropriate. Standard “front of book” material is also included.

GA Pest Management Handbook 2016 – COMBINED
Includes all recommendations found in Volumes 1 and 2 of the 2016 Commercial Edition of the Georgia Pesticide Management Handbook in one pdf (919 pages) with bookmarks. Standard “front of book” material is also included. This pdf is only available for agents.

Jan. 26: Updated bookmarks

+ Training (1)

Using the Pest Management PDFs on a Mobile Device
This is a 6 min (175 mb) video produced by Frank Watson, Wilkes County CEC, on how to use the bookmarks feature of the Adobe Acrobat Reader app in order to easily access pest management information.

Once you arrive at the page, you will have the option to log into Dropbox if you desire, but that is not necessary. Just “X” out that box and then click to stream the video. You can also use the download link at the top of the page to download file to your computer.

Note: PDFs are also searchable. Using the video as a reference, instead of tapping on the book icon on the bottom left to access the bookmarks, the magnifying glass icon will bring up a text box that will let you search by keyword. Then it will find the word and highlight its location in the document. You can use the arrows to scroll to other instances of the where the word is used in the document. This could be useful if you are looking for a specific chemical or disease; just be sure spelling is correct. You may also only want to search for part of the word, such as “blue” in order to capture both blueberries and blueberry.

For more information on using the Adobe Acrobat mobile app, see

Precision Irrigation – Publications and Information Resources


“Specialty Crop Research Initiative – Managing Irrigation and Nutrition via Distributed Sensing”

Our project is all about saving water, increasing efficiency and reducing the environmental impacts of ornamental plant production practices! We are using wireless sensor networks and environmental modeling to more accurately predict and apply irrigation water in nursery and greenhouse operations, and monitor green roofs for stormwater mitigation.

Our goal is to provide growers with the ability to precisely monitor and control applications of water and nutrients to plants in these production settings, based upon daily plant requirements.

Our vision is to provide the nursery and greenhouse industries with cost-effective equipment and strategies that can be used to reduce the volume and cost of inputs, increase profitability, reduce the environmental impacts of nursery and greenhouse production and encourage sustainable practices in the United States and beyond.

The purpose of this website is to provide you with an overview of our project and information about the research and development of an advanced environmental monitoring and irrigation system. We are actively collaborating with a number of commercial growers using their production areas as test environments. These collaborations will help us learn to best implement this new technology to minimize cost and maximize efficiency.

The SCRI-MINDS project has demonstrated multiple benefits of wireless sensor control systems for commercial nursery and greenhouse operations — This starts with reducing water applications compared to our best irrigation managers by between 40 and 70% depending on crop and season. However, these reductions in irrigation water use also extend to significant reductions in nutrient leaching and crop loss due to disease, with associated environmental benefits.

As importantly, we have demonstrated that there are multiple benefits which are associated with increased timeliness of irrigation decisions, which all translate into increased crop yield and quality and ultimately increased profitability for growers. The success of this project will culminate in the commercial release of the PlantPointTM advanced sensor network control system by Decagon Devices, Inc. in early 2015.

All of these benefits are highlighted in our Final Year 5 report, which you can access from our Impacts Page

Or check out our publications from the drop-down menu here.

You can also download a summary of our project impacts from: SCRI-MINDS Impact Summary

Highlights: July 27, 2015 Edition

The aim of HighLights newsletter is to keep nursery and landscape professionals, Extension and research personnel, Master Gardeners, horticultural suppliers, and home gardeners up-to-date on news from the Trial Gardens and horticultural research at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville.

HighLights 2015-07-27

2015 International Trials Conference – Portland, OR – August 24-27, 2015

Wilsonville, Oregon (July 9, 2015) – The International Trials Conference, held this year in Portland, Oregon, has announced its schedule of stops for this year’s conference tour of area sites playing vital roles in plant research, testing, and production. The day long excursion takes place on the next to last day of the prestigious biennial conference held August 24- 27, 2015.

If you have not attended this meeting – you should. It is a wonderful location and hosted by fantastic plant-people.

Read more here: ITC PRelease7-9-15ITCTours

Yellow poplar weevil outbreak

Originally posted on

I was in Northwestern Pennsylvania last week and found tulip poplar trees with leaves that had brown dried edges and small brown spots. From a distance the trees looked like that had leaf scorch or some disease. It turned out they were covered in small black to blue weevils called yellow poplar weevils, Odontopus calceatus. I have never encountered these in Raleigh. The authoritative Insects that Feed on Trees and Shrubs by Johnson and Lyon has a short entry on this critter. Apparently theoverall distribution is from New England south to Louisiana but are most common in central Appalachia. This fits with the location of the trees I found and with reports from Cliff Ruth that these are common in the mountains of NC this year.

Yellow poplar weevils and feeding damage. Photo: SD Frank

A quick google search turns up dozens of news articles from PA and WV describing outbreak populations and damage this year.

There is one generation per year. Adults overwinter in leaf litter fly to trees in spring and lay eggs in early summer. A report from Auburn describes the life cycle in the South. Larvae and adults feed on leaves causing blotch mines and holes. They pupate within leaf mines. New adults emerge in mid-summer, feed a little, then become scarce until the following year.

Brown leaves and twigs without leaves on a tulip poplar infested with yellow poplar weevils. Photo: SD Frank

These probably do not threaten tree longevity or growth especially if they just turn up occasionally. They will make your tree look a little ragged though. Since there is one generation per year if you could dislodge or kill the bulk of them with horticultural oil or soap you would reduce the damage. A pyrethroid would also kill adults but maybe not all the larvae in mines. Other beetle-active systemic products like neonics or Acelepryn should kill the beetles and larvae but it may be late in the year to try and make drench applications you could try a foliar application.


Imported willow leaf beetles

Imported willow leaf beetle adult. Photo: SD Frank

Reposted from

Imported willow leaf beetle (Plagiodera versicolor) are common on willows in landscapes and natural areas. Most of year adults and larvae are feeding on willows. The adults are iridescent black to blue and about ¼ inch long. The larvae are dull gray. The eggs are yellow and resemble lady beetle eggs.

The adult beetles overwinter outdoors under bark or in leaf litter. They and emerge from hibernation sites in spring around the time willow leaves start developing since adults prefer new leaves. Adults and larvae skeletonize leaves, leaving larger veins intact. This gives trees a brown cast as damaged leaves crisp in the sun. In some cases though they can defoliate trees like the one I pass walking to work each day. This tree has been defoliated for the past 5 years and this year is dead.

Pubescent varieties of willow may be less affected than glabrous varieties. Also when you inspect infested willow trees you often see a lot of lady beetle larvae, pupae, and adults that eat the eggs. Thus, if the habitat is suitable to sustain these and other predators insecticides are often not necessary.

Insecticides labeled for leaf feeding beetles such as spinosad, imidacloprid, and chlorantraniliprole, and others in the NC Agricultural Chemical Manual can be used if needed. Unfortunately, these beetles are here to stay so efforts to prevent any damage to willows is in vain. If you plant a willow in a landscape these beetles and some damage are practically guaranteed. The goal should be to keep populations below a level that cause substantial defoliation.

Check out Dr. Raupp’s bug of the week post on willow leaf beetle for cool info on how they defend against predators. If you like old drawings check out this 1940 USDA Bulletin.

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