MSU Offering Greenhouse and Horticultural Lighting Course

Our extension colleagues at Michigan State University are offering an online course on Greenhouse and Horticultural Lighting.  The course works at your own pace, and can be completed anytime between December 2016 and February 2017.  Lots of information is available, and the course covers topics by Dr. Erik Runkle who gave some excellent talks at this year’s Canadian Greenhouse Conference. Continue reading “MSU Offering Greenhouse and Horticultural Lighting Course”

Low Light and High Humidity: Identifying Oedema

Figure one: Typical symptoms of Odema/Intumescence.

Figure 1: Typical symptoms of Odema/Intumescence.

Oedema or edema, also known as intumescence.  This physiological disorder usually appears during periods of low light – from now through the fall, winter and into the spring.  If you’ve noticed salt-like crystals, odd tumour-like growths or water-soaked spots on either side of your plant leaves this disorder could be the culprit (Figure 1). The disorder affects a wide variety of tropical plants and succulents.  It can also affect greenhouse crops such as lilies, cyclamen, sweet potato vine, geranium, begonia, petunia, calibrachoa, ornamental peppers and other Solanaceae family plants. Continue reading “Low Light and High Humidity: Identifying Oedema”

Summer School: Lessons learned from another hot, humid Ontario summer

Happy first day of fall! It was a dry, sweltering summer across Ontario, and I’ve heard from some growers that it was the most challenging summer they could recall in recent memory based on the heat alone.  Oppressive heat and humidity pack a punch that leaves everyone feeling sluggish – you, your staff and your plants.  While we won’t complain too loudly (winter’s coming!), learning from this year’s challenges will help in summers to come as we experience more extreme weather. Continue reading “Summer School: Lessons learned from another hot, humid Ontario summer”

Now’s the time to be proactive about poinsettia nutrition

If you’re producing poinsettias this year, you are probably just about finished with potting up your newly rooted cuttings. Keeping an eye on your crop throughout the production cycle will help to identify problems early, and allow you to correct the problem before it gets out-of-hand.   Consider this blog post your “cheat sheet” on identifying poinsettia nutrition related disorders. Continue reading “Now’s the time to be proactive about poinsettia nutrition”

Keep those cuttings cool!

cool point

Ensure your cuttings stay cool in the heat, so they grow into “cool” mature poinsettias!

Environment Canada has placed most of Southern Ontario under a Heat Alert for the next few days.  It’s the time of year for sticking poinsettia cuttings, and cuttings of any floral crop are susceptible to extreme temperatures.  Plants are just like people, crank up the heat and they put all their energy into just surviving the conditions, not forcing roots. Stressful conditions at rooting can lead to poor plant quality and cause defects that will be seen later in production like poor branching and leaf deformities. Continue reading “Keep those cuttings cool!”

Nutrient Deficiency Refresher

As we start to move into fall and winter flower crop production cycles, it’s a good time to go back through some basics about nutrient deficiencies.

No matter where you are in a cropping cycle, nutrition problems can be tricky to figure out.  The good thing is they can be differentiated from disease or pest issues based on a few key observations:

  • If the damage is uniform and crop wide, it’s most likely a nutritional issue
  • If the damage is localized or more random, it’s most likely a disease or pest issue

Continue reading “Nutrient Deficiency Refresher”

A Burning Question: Ethylene and Sulfur Dioxide Damage in the Greenhouse

I’ve had a handful of calls in the past few weeks asking me to identify poor air quality damage on spring bedding crops.  Even if you have never had problems, the following is a good refresher on why proper maintenance of greenhouse heating systems is important.

 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.

These impurities can leave your crop looking a bit down (Literally! It’s called epinasty, see more below), and it can happen in as little as 24 hoursContinue reading “A Burning Question: Ethylene and Sulfur Dioxide Damage in the Greenhouse”

Met52 to be temporarily unavailable

After several months of uncertainty, Monsanto BioAg  will continue to offer Met 52 bioinsecticide.  However, as new sources of inputs are being pursued, the product will not be available between February and October 2016.

This affects both the EC and Granular formulations.


Met52 comes as a granular (pictured) or emulsifiable concentrate (EC) formula.  Both will be temporarily unavailable in Canada from Feb to Oct 2016.

Met 52 (which contains the beneficial fungus Metarhizium anisopliae) is one of three fungal-based bio-insecticides we have registered in Canada for greenhouse pests such as thrips and whitefly.

During this gap period, growers using Met 52 in their IPM programs may want to switch to products containing the fungus Beauveria bassiana (e.g. BotaniGard 22WP, BioCeres WP).  Beauveria also has activity against thrips and whitefly.  For more details on best use of Beauveria-based products, see this page on the website.



How are pesticides registered in Canada?


Cary Gates at Canada Blooms 2014. Cary is Pest Management Director for Flowers Canada Growers.

Ever wonder what, exactly, is involved in getting a pesticide registered for use in Canadian greenhouses – and why it seems to take so long?  This guest post by Cary Gates (Director of Pest Management, Flowers Canada) lifts the curtain on the process.

How are Pesticides Typically Registered?

When I speak to growers, one of the things I’m told they need most are new biological and/or conventional pesticide registrations.  But getting a new registration is no simple task. 

Brand new active ingredients take a significant amount of time and financial investment from pesticide manufacturers to bring to market.  And, often the return on this investment is not realized immediately, due to the relatively small market ornamental growers represent. 

To address this, grower associations like Flowers Canada work with registrants to submit a User Requested Minor Use Registration (URMUR) request to the Province. This lowers the cost of registration for pesticide manufacturers.  However, typical registration timelines still remain around 3-4 years

If a product is already registered on a different crop in Canada, we can pursue a label expansion (known as a User Requested Minor Use Label Expansion, or URMULE) .  URMULES typically take 9 months to process.  URMULES can take considerably more time if additional registration data is required (e.g. occupational exposure data). Some label expansions have taken multiple years to process.  

Flowers Canada submits approximately 8- 10 label expansion requests annually, which are often the result of grower requests.  A large percentage of these are approved.

If you would like to know more about the progress of any new registrations, feel free to contact me.

The Role of Canada’s Pest Management Centre (PMC):

Outside of label expansions and registrant submitted registrations, many pesticides are made available to floriculture farmers through Agriculture Canada’s Pest Management Centre.

The PMC is a division of AAFC that works to assist growers’ access new pest management tools (both biological and conventional pesticides). 

Delegates at the 2014 PMC's Priority Setting Meeting. Photo from

Delegates at the 2014 PMC Priority Setting Meeting. Photo from

The PMC hosts an annual priority-setting meeting where growers, researchers, industry grower associations and extension staff prioritize pests and diseases alongside researchers, pest management companies and regulators.  Sarah Jandricic and I will be attending this meeting in March. (For more information about the goals and format of the meeting, click here).

Each year, the group isolates only 10 priority insect-pest problems, 10 priority pathology problems and 10 priority weed problems out of all the possible pests affecting all crop groups in Canada. 

If a particular pest or disease is one of the few selected, then the PMC will help fill any data gaps that are preventing a pesticide from being registered to “solve” a priority problem.  They do this by assisting registrants in compiling data, conducting efficacy trials, sponsoring pesticide dissipation research, and coordinating discussions with Health Canada.  Because of the workload involved, this avenue of registration often takes longer than an URMUR or URMULE.

A researcher in a full spray suit applying pesticides to seedlings in the ground.

A pesticide residue trial being conducted by members of the Pest Management Centre (PMC). Photo from

FCG has been very fortunate in being able to isolate multiple priorities annually – sometimes up to 5-6.  This has benefited growers tremendously, as many pesticides used in greenhouses today were registered with the PMC’s assistance

Quarantine Issues:

Although we have been fortunate enough not to have to deal with many invasive pests, they can occur from time-to-time and threaten the ability of farmers to move and export plants. 

In the past, growers have had to deal with issues like Chrysanthemum White Rust, Sudden Oak Death, Duponchelia and Japanese Beetle. All of these quarantinable pests required expedited pest management solutions. 

Submitting emergency use registrations remains a very high priority, with subsequent full registration requests being prepared thereafter. In fact, we just oversaw a new pesticide registration, Acelepryn (chlorantraniliprole) for those in JB regions who need to treat their crops during flight period.  Typically, an emergency use registration can be processed for grower use in under a month.

Grower Involvement is Key:

One of the activities I enjoy most about working for an industry association is visiting greenhouses and talking to growers directly.  This allows me to hear first-hand about issues affecting the sector.  Grower visits steer my focus on priority pests and diseases and help me find tools to control them.

If you would like to know more about the role that Flowers Canada FCG logoGrowers plays in pesticide registration, please visit our website ( or call/email me anytime (519.836.5495 X228,