Last chance to register for FCO’s Research Conference!

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-2-48-09-pm Flowers Canada Ontario is hosting a Research Conference on February 1st.

The conference will focus on best management practices (or BMPs) in the greenhouse, including those for water management, lighting, and pest control.

Keep reading for details on speakers and registration.

Continue reading “Last chance to register for FCO’s Research Conference!”

Meet the new Floriculture Specialist for OMAFRA!

I am pleased to introduce Dr. Chevonne Carlow as the new Greenhouse Floriculture Specialist for OMAFRA.  Chevonne takes over from Wayne Brown, who retired from the position in January.

Chevonne will be responsible for issues surrounding plant production and nutrition in floriculture.

Chevonne Blog Picture.jpgChevonne is currently putting the finishing touches on her PhD in Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Guelph.  There,  she gained experience with greenhouse and controlled environment settings, and developed skills in investigating issues of plant production.  She also has a Master of Bioinformatics (Applied Plant Bioinformatics) from the University of Guelph.  Chevonne’s experience and strong communication skills will make her a valuable asset to our industry.

Chevonne will begin with OMAFRA on November 30, working out of  Vineland.  Please drop by and introduce yourself (Rm 204, VRIC Admin. Building – a.k.a. “Wayne’s old office”).

Upcoming Container Trial Events

In case any of you have forgotten, the Sawaya Garden Trials are happening TOMORROW in Simcoe!  It should be a great day.

Also keep your calendars clear for the new Ontario Container Trial and Workshop, a free event to be held at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre on Friday, August 21st (9am to 12pm).

Some of the containers currently growing on the Vineland Campus, all ready for the Container Trial and Workshop on Aug. 21.
Some of the containers currently growing on the Vineland Campus, all ready for the Ontario Container Trial and Workshop on Aug. 21.

Similar to the container trials run by OMAFRA/UofG in previous years, you’ll be able to see how 200 different varieties of ornamental plants stack up against each other — all were grown by Rodger Tschanz (UofG) under the same growing conditions.

This year we’ve also added some bonus material, including:

  • Presentations on  new floriculture research coming out of Cornell University, as well as Vineland’s research on floriculture opportunities in the Asian-Canadian community
  • Details on the best performers of 2015, and which ornamentals were most attractive to thrips
  • a FREE BBQ lunch
  • a tour of Vineland’s new greenhouse facility.

Register for the event by Aug. 17th by calling 1-877-424-1300. Presentations start at 9am.  A public open house to view the containers will begin at 1pm.



Consumers want “bee friendly” plants, not “neonic-free”

For those of you who missed the summary on Floral Daily,  an interesting study on pesticide labeling of ornamentals was just published by researchers and extension specialists at Michigan State University(1).

The MSU team found that people who buy ornamental plants (both indoor and outdoor) obviously want healthy, insect-free plants.

But, they also found that consumers value plants labelled specifically as “bee friendly”.  Consumers in the study were willing to pay anywhere from $0.13 to $1.50 more per plant for “bee friendly” plants  than those labelled “grown without neonicotinoid insecticides“.

Bee foraging on a landscape plant. Photo by Dr. Elsa Youngstead, NCSU.
Bee foraging on a landscape plant. Photo by Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt, NCSU.

Given all the hubbub about neonics in particular, why didn’t “neonicotinoid-free plants” resonate with consumers?  Well, it turns out many consumers don’t actually understand the term.  Of the >2000 people interviewed in this study, 57% admitted outright they didn’t know what it meant, and 11% thought the term meant produced would any insecticides.  The MSU researchers found that labeling a plant as “neonicotinoid free” may actually have a detrimental effect on purchasing.

Plant tag from a major store indicating the use of neonicitinoid insecticides.
Plant tag from a major store indicating the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.

Studies like this are timely, considering major box stores (Home Depot, Loblaws, etc.) are demanding labeling to satisfy public concerns.    Information on which labels consumers best respond to can be used by growers  producing their own labels.  Additionally, this information can be factored into pest management decisions.

1. The original article can only be obtained through a University library subscription or by purchase from HortScience, here: Or, I can tots get you a copy if you really want one.


Welcome to the new ONfloriculture Blog! Floriculture IPM info and more…

A Blog for Ontario Greenhouse Floriculture Growers
Welcome to the very first posting for the new ONfloriculture blog! With regular contriubtions from OMAFRA Floriculture Specialists, the goal of this blog is to provide Ontario greenhouse floriculture growers with timely, technical information to grow the best crops they can.

I encourage you to sign up using the “Follow” feature to your right: this way, new posts magically appear in your inbox.  Alternatively, you can check back regularly for  new information and helpful resources.  The blog will cover such topics as new strides in floriculture IPM of both pests and diseases, new pesticide registrations, flower production, emerging pests, and industry events.

Looking for a Particular Topic?
See the Topic Word Cloud on the right side of the screen.  Topics build themselves as we post blogs.  By clicking on a particular topic (e.g. “Thrips”), you’ll be taken to all related posts.  The most posted-about topics will be in larger font.

Short on time?
Feel like you don’t have time to really read a whole blog post?  Hey, I know the feeling.  So, for all posts, I’ll be doing my best to bold the most important parts, in case you only have time to skim.


When “harassment” is a good thing in your greenhouse

Well, now that I’ve gotten your attention, let’s be clear that I’m talking about bugs, here, people.  Specifically, Western flower thrips and predatory mites such as N. cucumeris and A. swirskii.

L2 western flower thrips next to a predatory mite egg (left) and 2 adult mites (right).
Second instar (L2) western flower thrips next to a predatory mite egg (left) and 2 adult mites (right). Photo credit: Sarah Jandricic.

We all know that predatory mites only kill and eat the small, first larval stage of thrips (referred to as L1’s).  Larger life stages (i.e. L2’s and adult thrips) are simply too large for the mites to kill.

But, that doesn’t mean they don’t help control them.

Predatory mites will repeatedly attempt to kill L2 thrips – attacking them up to  40 times an hour (1). The L2 thrips are able to fend off these attacks by either running away, or “slapping” mites in the face with their abdomens.  You can watch the hilarity that ensues when mites attempt to attack too-large thrips larvae here.

But this “harassment” by mites takes it’s toll on thrips.  Because thrips spend more time fending off mites, they spend 30% less time feeding (2).  Over time, this translates to 40% less damage on plants with predatory mites, compared to no mites (2).  And, the presence of mites can reduce survival of L2 thrips by up to 78% (1), probably because eating less means the thrips lack the nutritional reserves to complete development.

And all of this is accomplished just through “intimidation” of thrips by mites – not through consumption.  Scientists term these “non-consumptive” effects, and we are just starting to learn the importance of these effects in biological control.  Research is now suggesting that non-consumptive effects like “harassment” may actually account for 50% of the pest control we see in greenhouses (3).

This makes sense with our thrips example.  Not only do mites reduce the feeding and survival of larval thrips, but ongoing research from Cornell University  shows that the presence of mites reduces the number of eggs laid by adult thrips, and shortens adult thrips lifespan (4).  Even the presence of predatory mite eggs on a plant has been shown to  “scare” L1 thrips into eating less, according to research from Austria (5).

And, it would make sense that the more mites you have, the higher the number of “scary” encounters thrips will have with them, improving control. 

So, lets give a hand to the hard working, harassing, predatory mite, who’s doing more than we ever thought in floriculture IPM.  Stay creepy, little guys. Stay creepy.

References: (1) Jandricic, S.E., Schmidt, D., Bryant, G., and Frank, S.P, NC State University. Unpublished data. (2) Jandricic, S.E. and Frank, S.P.  2014.  Too scared to eat: non-consumptive effects of predatory mites.  IOBC/wprs Bulletin 102: 111-115; (3) Preisser, E. L, Bolnick, D. I., & Benard, M. F. 2005: Scared to death? The effects of intimidation and consumption in predator-prey interactions. Ecology 86: 501-509. (4) Loughner, R., and Nyrop, J.  Cornell University. Unpublished data. (5) Walzer, A., & Schausberger, P. 2009: Non-consumptive effects of predator mites on thrips and its host plant. Oikos 118: 934-940.