Improperly ventilated heaters & ethylene damage

Spring is almost here…we hope! We’re reposting this article on poor air quality damage on spring bedding crops as we’ve seen some damage again this year.  Symptoms, solutions and preventative measures are listed below. If you think you have a problem, please contact a licensed contractor to inspect your heating system.

Natural gas and propane are popular choices when it comes to heating a greenhouse.  The products of burning fuel are carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20); both compounds we know are good for your plants.  However, combustion is often (if not always) incomplete, and impurities such as carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and ethylene (C2H4) are also released leading to poor air quality if your heater is not properly vented.

Typically symptoms from ethylene damage and sulfur dioxide damage can been seen fairly quickly after exposure.

Figure 1. Signs of ethylene damage include leaf curling and epinasty, seen here in A) New Guinea Impatiens and B) lettuce seedlings.

In the short term (a few hours to a few days), ethylene damage results in leaf curling, epinasty (leaves bending downwards from the petiole) and flower drop.  If the stress continues over a longer period (several days to a week or more), plants can take a long time to flower, or not flower at all.  Ethylene levels as low as 0.01 parts per million (ppm) can create symptoms in sensitive species. Levels are usually highest near the heater and can be diluted by air circulation.

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Upcoming Webinar: Root Rots – What You Can’t See CAN Hurt you.

Its a busy time in the greenhouse, but our next topic is timely! Rot rots like Fusarium, Pythium and black root rot are often the bane of spring bedding crops. Dr. Mary Hausbeck, a Distinguished Professor from Michigan State University, is going to share her vast knowledge on this topic, including which fungicides work best. Check out the details below, and don’t forget to register!

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Upcoming Webinar: Making Sense of Lighting During Propagation

Its a busy time in the greenhouse, but we hope you’ll make some time to listen to our next webinar, focused on using supplemental lighting in greenhouse propagation. Dr. Erik Runkle and Dr. Roberto Lopez from Michigan State University, join us to share their vast knowledge on this topic. Check out the details below, and don’t forget to register!

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Time to Prepare for Spring 2022

This post was jointly written by Dr. Chevonne Dayboll and Dr. Sarah Jandricic

It’s time to think about spring again! This post gathers some of the most important things to plan and prep for in the greenhouse before your spring production begins in earnest.

1. Make sure your inputs are ordered

We can’t emphasize this one enough. COVID-19 and container boat issues are still causing shipping delays that are affecting many industries including greenhouses. Make sure you order potting mixes, plastic trays and pots, fertilizers, and production inputs well ahead of when you will need them. If you are planning on doing greenhouse upgrades in between seasons make sure you confirm delivery and installation timelines with your contractors.  Many of them are facing delays too!

2. Now is the time for preventative maintenance

Heat loss from an older (left) and newer, more efficient boiler (right). (Photo credit: OMAFRA)

Now is a great time to schedule preventive maintenance for your boiler, irrigation and shading systems.  Make sure that all motors and alarms are working before you need to rely on them. No one wants to find out that their temperature alarm failed on a cold February morning! Ensure you are getting the pressure you expect all along your irrigation system.  If you rely on propane heaters for early spring production make sure they are venting properly. Damage from improper venting can present as stunted growth or leaf burn.

Take some time to inspect the greenhouse for wear-and-tear. Repair cracked poly and broken glass to keep heat from escaping. Make sure old torn energy curtains are replaced. A heat sensitive camera can help to identify areas of energy loss and help you plan for energy efficient upgrades in the future.

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OMAFRA CEA Webinar Series: Smart Sensors for Floriculture

Ever thought your plants were looking a little chlorotic, but didn’t want to waste time or money on tests? What if an smartphone app could tell you their nitrogen level? What if low cost sensors could help you monitor plant growth and tell you when PGRs are needed?

Having previously covered topics such as artificial intelligence and smart spraying, OMAFRA is continuing it’s CEA Webinar series, looking specifically at smart sensors. And they don’t have to be anything fancy to help you monitor your crop.

Although “floriculture” is in the title, the sensors and apps Dr. Krishna Nemali from Purdue University will discuss have applications across all avenues of controlled environment agriculture. Keep reading for details on the webinar, and how to register.

Knowing when to apply PGRs to crops like poinsettia is critical. A smart phone app could help make things easier with less staff training.
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Water Treatment: What System Should I Choose?

Water media filter in a greenhouse
Media filters can be an important step in water treatment: see this article in Greenhouse Grower.

This is the 6th article in a series about water sanitation. The goal of this series is to get you reflecting on your own irrigation system before a problem occurs. 

If you’re following our series on water sanitation, you saw that previous posts covered where problems are likely to occur in your greenhouse, the types of pathogens found in waterwhere and how to sample your water and getting and interpreting a DNA test for pathogens in your water.

This post covers water treatment options, and was written by C. Dayboll with input from Phytoserv and Soil Resource Group.

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Water DNA Tests: Pros, Cons and Interpreting Results

This post was written by S. Jandricic and A. Wylie.

Overhead boom irrigation

This is the fourth article in a series about water sanitation. The goal of this series is to get you reflecting on your own irrigation system before you are faced with a problem.  The first post covered where problems are likely to occur in your greenhouse ; the 2nd covered the types of pathogens found in water and the 3rd covered where and how to sample your water.

Once you’ve got your water sample, this post will cover why water DNA tests are useful, and how to interpret the results. This is the next step towards identifying and then treating your water issues to prevent unnecessary fungal or bacterial disease in your greenhouse crops, and potentially save you thousands of dollars in crop losses or fungicide applications.

These posts make good refresher resources, so make sure to bookmark them!

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Poinsettia Production Tips: 2021

Poinsettias on Cruise Control | Greenhouse Industry Roundtable of ...

Poinsettia cuttings being rooted. Photo courtesy of Ohio State University.

Now that poinsettias are safely tucked into their prop trays and the threat of Erwinia (Pectobacterium) is almost over, it’s time to think about other poinsettia issues.

Root rots, nutritional issues, environmental stress and PGR mistakes can all be costly in this high-value crop.

Read on for common pitfalls and how to avoid them, and for some great video resources on poinsettia production.

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Poinsettia Problems: Your Monthly Scouting Guide, 2021

JF14

This post on poinsettia problems was contributed to by Drs. Chevonne Dayboll and Sarah Jandricic.

When poinsettias get problems,  they always seem to hit hard and fast. Things like whitefly, Lewis mite, root rots, and nutritional issues can all quickly derail a quality crop. This is why scouting might be more important in this crop than any other.

Here’s a month by month guide on what you should be looking for to prevent small problems from becoming big issues.

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Garden Mums – 2021 Production and Protection Tips

praying mantis on garden mums

This post was contributed to by Drs. Sarah Jandricic, Andrew C. Wylie and Chevonne Dayboll.

Summer is getting underway, and so too are garden mums!  Although generally an easy crop, there several tweaks you can make to help save headaches AND money.

This post has updated information to help you optimize your irrigation, fertilizer and pest management programs in garden mums.

New Resources for Mum Production

Hit your exact ship size on your ship date using Graphical Tracking

Track and even out the growth of your mums using a graphical tracking tool with a few easy steps:

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