A changing landscape for landscapers

In this article at Lawn and Landscape, the author reviews the latest data from multiple sources to identify and explore the implications of:

  1. Regional growth of neighborhood size
  2. Demographic shifts toward an aging population

A plan for weed-free natural areas in golf course settings

Properly maintained natural areas in golf course settings can be both beautiful as well as beneficial to your bottom line. However, just because it is a natural area does not mean there is no required maintenance.

And now, a word from one of our customers…

We appreciate the chance to help our customers grow their business. Thanks to Colin and the Southern Spray Lawn Care team for relying on us to help them do that!

“For almost 10 years I have included numerous Nufarm products in our Nashville turf program. Arena has become my “go to” product for grub suppression, with excellent results being the standard. I use Triplet as well, but when I need to control wild violets and oxalis, I can always count on 4Speed XT to get the job done quickly with no callbacks. Their customer service has been exceptional and with such a large portfolio of effective products, I would recommend Nufarm products to any professional in the Turf and Ornamental market.” – Colin Vincent, Southern Spray

Are you ready for thrips?

As the weather warms and flowers bloom, thrips will be waiting to feed. In this e-Gro Alert from Penn State Extension, the Thrip lifecycle and identification guidance are described along with best practices and methods for controlling these damaging pests.

Bedding plants and fertilizer rates: Optimum selection

With the large number of bedding plants that many growers produce, some in smaller quantities, it can be difficult to customize fertilizer rates for each variety. Cornell University conducted research to identify optimum fertilizer rates for bedding plants based on practical groupings. The results–and recommendations–are presented in summary at this link.

Growing Garden Mums for Fall Sales

At this time of the year, mums are generally viewed as commodity plants. If you are considering adding mums to your portfolio of plants–or even if you already include them–The University of Massachusetts has guidance on getting the most from your crop, including tips on production, scheduling and related resources.

Boxwood Blight Best Management Practices-Updated

Boxwood blight, a widespread fungal disease affecting boxwood plants, is often fatal to young plants and has no known ‘cure’.

AmericanHort and the Horticultural Research Institute, in conjunction with the National Plant Board, have recently released a revised Boxwood Blight Best Management Practices, version 2.0.

The guidance, available for download at this link, covers nursery best management practices including:

  • Training
  • Mitigating accidental introduction
  • Mitigating local spread
  • Scouting

and more.

A complete summary is also available at Nursery Management Magazine.

Developing strategies for better Plant Growth Regulator use in greenhouses

Greenhouse Grower Magazine conducted an interview of several top growers about their approaches to improving their plant growth regulator strategies while increasing consistency in production.

A few of the many techniques discussed include:

  • DIF, temperature control strategies
  • Integration of liner trenches
  • Reduction in high-maintenance crops
  • Changes in sizing of plant liners
  • Microdrenching

Developing your future managers: professional growth

North Creek Nurseries has an enthusiastic group of young associates on staff, many of whom have backgrounds in plants or ecology, nursery or public gardens, but few who arrive with the skills that make up successful nursery managers and leaders. In this article from Greenhouse Grower magazine, North Creek shares their approach to developing the next generation of managers, summarized as: train, delegate, monitor.

Emerald Ash Borer University

Emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is an exotic beetle that was discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. This pest has devastated millions of ash trees in more than two dozen states and in Canada.

You can head back to school to learn the latest about what is being done to address emerald ash borer and other invasive species in North America with EAB Unviversity. Driven by regular webinars and featuring university researchers, foresters, and others, the live sessions and replays are available online and include cover topics such as characteristics of the trees used to replace affected ash trees, developing a municipal strategy for addressing EAB and much more.

Fighting the invaders: Tools and resources for combating invasive species

As National Invasive Species Awareness Week wraps up, the threat remains. The first step in combating the threat of invasive species is awareness…of the threat, the issues and the challenges. Entomology Today has pulled together a list of resources to help growers–or those they communicate with–understand and take action.

The list includes videos, research reports, key associations and regulators, and more available from the Entomology Society of America.

Figuring your top dressing: The Sand Calculator

Top dressing is a critical component of turf playability and helps dilute surface organic matter accumulation. Calculating your topdressing needs is easier thanks to the Purdue Turf Science department’s Calculator. The calculator helps you figure out how much sand you’ll need for your topdressing application.

The calculator also guides you on bunker sand, rates your aerification practice against golfer preference, and helps you figure annual top dressing volumes.

Finding and hiring landscape talent: tips for success

When it comes to hiring, Landscape managers would do well to remember the five Ps – proper planning prevents poor performance. Landscape Management turns these into actionable detail with guidance and ideas for planning the complete hiring cycle including:

  • identifying candidates
  • rewarding referrals
  • structuring the interviewing process
  • making the offer

Five tips for effective employee safety training

Conducting regular safety meetings with employees is a crucial part of an effective agricultural safety training program. The Ohio State University has plans and materials for conducting these training sessions, available at the OSU Extension site.

Even if you already have a plan, here are five tips for making your sessions effective:

  1. Explain the goal of the safety training and the reason why the training is important to the employees. Doing this will increase the person’s interest in learning.
  2. Break down the job into one-step parts and identify each key step. By understanding how safety fits into each step of the job, employees learn to perform their work safely and correctly.
  3. Show the proper way to do the job. Only talking about how to do a job safely isn’t enough.
  4. Ask the person to perform the job while you watch and have them explain each step; not only what is going to be done, but also why. By letting an employee explain and perform the job, you will learn if the person understands and can perform the task safely.
  5. Return to see how the worker is doing and to see if there are any questions or problems. The follow-up process is very important, since spotting and correcting improper work habits will help an employee do their job more safely and efficiently.

Giving Back: GreenCare for Troops

We are proud to continue our support of the GreenCare for Troops program run by ProjectEvergreen and hope you will consider volunteering.

This article at Lawn and Landscape features a nice overview of the program, its origins, and highlights testimonials from green industry pros who have engaged to give back to the local military families the program helps.

In addition, the brief video at this link testifies to the direct, positive impact the program can have on people.

Greenhouse Growers: Do you have a plan?

Do you have a plan? That’s the first question Mark Richardson asks in his Greenhouse Product News article “Think Business-The Importance of Planning”.

Richardson offers a variation on traditional business planning, by focussing on a couple of key questions that are evolved for today’s environment: Why am I in the plant business? How do I want to feel in three to five years?

Guidance for overwintering container grown ornamentals

Maintaining stable conditions while overwintering container grown plants can be a challenge. To help, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst has developed guidance for overwintering these plants.

A nice summary of the guidance with commentary is available from Nursery Management

In addition to discussing various systems for covering plants, guidance is provided for specific temperatures and individual species. The full guidance is available from UMAss Amherst.

Hiring a Business Consultant: Getting the Most Out of the Relationship

There are many types of business consultants who may be able to help your Landscape business thrive. Landscape Management has a useful set of guidelines for selecting the right partner, including the importance of knowing what your goals are before you talk to a potential consulting partner.

How to get soil information in the palm of you hand

SoilWeb, developed at UC-Davis, accesses the USDA soil survey data for most of the United States. It runs off the GPS on your phone enabling you to click a button and understand drainage class, parent material, plant available water, organic matter, pH, CEC, texture, and more for the soil you are standing on. 

SoilWeb App in the iTunes Store

SoilWeb App in the Google Play Store

How To ID And Manage Black Aphids In Chrysanthemums

Greenhouse Grower magazine points us to Michigan State University Extension update on identifying and treating black aphids on mums. Mums are the only known host for these black aphids, Macrosiphoniella sanborni and MSU has guidance for identifying and managing these pests.

Identifying and mitigating herbicide contamination in the greenhouse

In this eGro Alert, Beth Scheckelhoff of Ohio State University’s Extension office, describes some examples and basic recommendations for mitigating and preventing herbicide contamination and injury of Greenhouse plants.

Some of the sources of contamination–and mitigating steps–covered include:

  • Contamination from Greenhouse Flooring
  • Contamination from Irrigation Water
  • Non-labeled Herbicide Application
  • Herbicide Drift

Identifying the enemy: Turf disease profiles

The University of Missouri Division of Plant Sciences, Turf Pathology team, has a nice Disease Profiles compendium available online. The Disease profiles include supporting visual identification images, condition descriptions and control recommendations and can provide value to superintendents, lawn care operators and other turf professionals.

Insect and Mite IPM for the greenhouse

Our very own technical specialist Rick Fletcher spoke alongside other industry experts on hot grower topics at a recent Texas A&M Extension event. Rick’s presentation focused on Greenhouse IPM, Mites, and Thrips.

Late Fall Fertilization of Athletic Fields

For athletic fields, fall is the time that turf takes a beating from football and other school sports activities. Many athletic field managers will be making late fall fertilizer applications with the hopes of improving turf vigor and recovery from injury next spring. Penn State’s Center for Turfgrass Science has guidance for how to get the most from a Fall fertilization regime.

Making the cut: Expert tips for keeping blades and reels sharp

It seems simple enough: keep your blades sharp for best cutting performance. But this article from Golf Course Industry explores the many ways in which keeping mower blade/cutting head performance at its peak is more difficult than it seems. Interviews with experts identify ways to help you stay sharp and include detailed approaches to items such as:

  • Maintaining proper adjustment.
  • Keeping blades sharp.
  • Keeping equipment free and clean.
  • Using the equipment for what it is intended.

Managing Fox Glove aphids in the greenhouse

Distinguished from other aphids by the large green patches near the back of their abdomen, Foxglove Aphids have been found in 95 different plant species, and can transmit more than 40 different plant viruses.

As they continue to become more prevalent, according to an MSU Extension report, it is important to understand options for controlling these pests. Greenhouse Grower Magazine outlines a summary of these options including biological, chemical and environmental controls.

Managing Turfgrass Diseases: Diagnosis and Control

The Penn State Center for Turfgrass Science published a comprehensive guide to dealing with turfgrass diseases on their website at: this link.

In addition to providing an overview of diagnosis and control approaches, the guide addresses specific diseases in detail including everything from Anthracnose to Yellow Patch. Lastly, the guide provides a neat summary chart of disease management strategies, including management practices and chemical controls.

Marketing for Landscape Contractors

Learning from other’s mistakes can be an effective way to avoid making the same missteps. Lawn and Landscape has published a list of 5 key learnings on marketing mistakes that many landscape companies make.

You can learn from these mistakes–which include only marketing during busy season; not building relationships with clients; neglecting your website; missing lead-capture online; and failing to ask for reviews and referrals.

Measuring what you manage: data loggers in the greenhouse

Data loggers in the greenhouse provide an opportunity to measure important crop production variables like temperature, humidity, daylight intensity and many more. In this article from Greenhouse Grower, the business case for using data loggers is made. The article reviews the types of loggers and provides examples of deployment options.

Moisture mapping for water management success

The fine folks at Turf Republic bring us Dr. Doug Soldat discussing how soil moisture mapping with probes is rapidly replacing the older practice of irrigation audits. According to Soldat, the value of a moisture probe for calibrating an irrigation system and understanding your soils ‘is hard to overstate’.

Though a Distribution Unit (DU) measure of 80 is considered about as good as it gets for turf, and anything below 60 is generally frowned upon in the textbooks, the mitigation of low or high DUs is more complicated. Soil moisture mapping using GPS-enabled probes can provide a more meaningful view of your water management puzzle according to Soldat.

MSU 2016 Greenhouse Insect Management update

David Smitley of Michigan State University Extension Service updated guidelines for managing Greenhouse insects. The document includes guidance on scouting, insecticides by type, outbreak prevention and best practices for Bee-friendly plants.

Related MSU information is also available via Insect Controls for the Greenhouse Industry (Website)

Plant Propagation: Preventing Pests

Plant propagation can be a critical time for nurseries to face pressure from fungus, aphids, spidermites and other pests. But there are things you can do during propagation to minimize the these pest pressures.

Scott Epps, nursery manager for Hoffman Nursery, shares 8 tips for handling plant health challenges in this article from Nursery Management

Nursery update: Red-headed flea beetles, crape myrtle bark scale & emerald ash borer

Red-headed flea beetles, crape myrtle bark scale and emerald ash borers remain major pests affecting Nurseries and their customers. In this roundup from Nursery Management, the latest research data from NCSU and Texas A&M is summarized along with tips for dealing with these pests.

Plant ID: A rogue’s gallery of weeds

The first step in controlling unwanted species in turf is knowing what you are dealing with. Penn State’s Center for Turfgrass Science has a Plant ID site that contains a robust library of broadleaf, grass and sedge images along with control options.

Preparing your nursery for extreme weather

Prides Corner Farms in Connecticut shares lessons learned in preparing for extreme weather. In this Nursery Management article, they share four tips, including:

  • Reinforcing hoop houses
  • Knowing what your plants need
  • Insulating vulnerable plants
  • Tucking plants in for winter

Preshift huddles: Making them work for your landscape business

In this quick read at Landscape Management magazine, Mel Kleiman describes 10 Commandments for making pre-shift ‘huddles’ work for your team. In addition to keeping the huddles short and making attendance mandatory, the article describes 8 additional ‘Thou shalts’ for helping your team realize increases in both productivity and profits.

Renewal and Remembrance

On Monday, July 17, 2017, Nufarm, a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals and gold sponsor, participated in Renewal & Remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery. A team of 25 Nufarm employees and their families joined industry professionals from around the country to help care for this national burial ground that serves as the final resting spot for more than 400,000 military service men and women and their spouses. This year marked Nufarm’s 10th year participating in the event which has been done in honor of Mark Phipps, a Philadelphia sales rep who passed away in 2006 from pancreatic cancer.

Every July, hundreds of landscape and lawn care professionals come from across the nation to Arlington National Cemetery to participate in Renewal & Remembrance which is organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. They volunteer their time mulching, upgrading sprinklers, cabling and installing lightning protection for the trees, pruning, planting, liming and aerating the soil.

It was a true celebration of dedication, honor to our country’s fallen heroes and opportunity for landscape professionals across the country to give back in the most meaningful way possible for our industry.

Retaining employees: It starts with training

Retaining good employees is a challenge that continues to affect the Landscape industry. In this article from Landscape Management, one company discusses their approach to retaining through training.

Specifically, the commercial landscaping company LandCare requires its new employees in support and management to spend time in the field to better understand company culture and how the work actually gets done. The article further describes key elements of the program and results.

Scale insects: Weighing the options

Unlike more visible insects (for exam tent worms or Japanese beetles), scale insects can be difficult to see in landscape plants until it is too late. In an article from Landscape Management, techniques for identifying and managing these damaging pests while on a client’s property are outlined, followed by a discussing of treatment options. The first step is to understand what the signs of infestation look like. From there, distinguishing between armored and soft scale pests ensures that effective treatment options can be considered.

The GreenKeeper app: A decision-support tool for turfgrass pros

Greenkeeper is an essential decision – support tool designed exclusively for turfgrass professionals by the Turf Program at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Key features include: Product applications log; Pest reports; Product tracking; Weather and more in desktop and mobile friendly forms.

Nufarm is a proud sponsor of the free app.

Turfgrass Information Center provides research and education materials

The Turfgrass Information Center (TGIC) houses the most comprehensive publicly-available collection of turfgrass research and educational materials in the world, and has also continuously produced the Turfgrass Information File (TGIF) database since 1983.

The TGIF database provides a searchable resource for students, researchers, and turf professionals around the world who are responsible for maintaining golf courses, lawns, athletic fields, and managed landscapes of every kind.

Turfgrass Pathology: Mizzou disease resources & research

The University of Missouri Turf Pathology team has made it easy to access a variety of turf-related resources, including:

  • disease profiles, which include imagery, descriptions, symptoms and treatement recommendations
  • research reports, covering the team field trials
  • in-season disease reports, focussed on current conditions in-region

All this in a convenient and searchable online form.

Year-end Accounting: 5 questions for ensuring a clean entry into 2018

How you account for your 2017 results can impact the quality of decision making for the upcoming year. In this Landscape Management article, five key questions are outlined to help you ensure clean data at year’s end, including:

  • Is your Profit and Loss statement accurate?
  • Does your balance sheet make sense?
  • Are your accounts receivables clean?
  • Have you done year end tax planning?
  • Have you created a budget for 2018?

When Nufarm announced its partnership with Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) in the creation of the EXCEL Leadership Program last fall, they believed it would benefit future golf course management leaders in the months and years to come, but didn’t envision strides so quickly.

EXCEL offers leading-edge development opportunities for 12 assistant superintendents chosen from many excellent applicants. Each EXCEL class assembles three times per year for a period of three years to learn leadership training in areas such as career, community, and industry stewardship. This year’s inaugural class joined their first meeting at the Golf Industry Show in February, followed by sessions at GSCAA headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas in April. The team will meet at Nufarm in Alsip, Illinois, in October.

Measuring and Monitoring Photosynthetic Light in a Greenhouse

In thie e-Gro tutorial, Roberto Lopez, Associate Professor and Floriculture Extension Specialist Purdue University, discusses foundational principles and practical techniques for measuring and monitoring the amount of photosynthetic light that is available to plants in greenhouse settings.

Complete Landscape Safety Training Program

Safety training is critical to every landscape business. Creating a complete, effective program from scratch is often impractical. Fortunately, you can access a complete, high-quality program via the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). The program includes interactive modules, instructor guide, worksheets, handouts and more.

Full program description

Ask an Expert

Ask an Expert: Caring for Poinsettias and Chrysanthemums

Q: What products do you recommend for pest management in poinsettias and mums?

A: I would recommend the following for insect control:

  • Safari®: aphids, fungus gnats, mealy bugs, thrips, whiteflies
  • TriStar®: aphids, mealy bugs, thrips and whiteflies
  • Distance® IGR: fungus gnats and whiteflies
  • Minx™: aphids, leafminers, thrips and whiteflies
  • Menace®: whiteflies, caterpillars, flea beetles and worms
  • Tame®: aphids and whiteflies

Ask an Expert: Cercospora Control on Pansies

Q: What products do you recommend for rotation to treat Cercospora on pansies?

A: Cercospora is a foliar disease, so spacing and overhead watering are good cultural practices, then add preventive sprays to avoid leaf damage.
There are numerous products with good efficacy. Read More:

Ask an Expert: Cercospora Control on Pansies

Q: What products do you recommend for rotation to treat Cercospora on pansies?

A: Cercospora is a foliar disease, so spacing and overhead watering are good cultural practices, then add preventive sprays to avoid leaf damage.
There are numerous products with good efficacy. Read More:

Ask an Expert: Controlling fungus gnats, thrips and whiteflies

Q: What treatments would you recommend for controlling fungus gnats, thrips and whiteflies?

A: Combating ornamental pests is crucial to ensure important crops such as poinsettias, pansies, and chrysanthemums remain healthy and ready for the season. Growers need to have a successful preventive program in place to best control insect pests.

We recommend the following for fungus gnats:

  • Safari®: Long residual drench (six weeks)
  • Gnatrol®: Drench the soil area
  • Distance® IGR: Excellent control product

We recommend the following for thrips:

  • TriStar®: Use as a translaminar on adults
  • Safari®: Long residual drench (six weeks)
  • Overture®: Excellent on thrips, different mode of action

We recommend the following for whiteflies:

  • Safari®: Controls Q- and B-biotypes, drench for residual
  • Menace®: Spray only on adults, no phytotoxicity problems
  • Distance® IGR: Good on immatures, drench or spray
  • TriStar®: Spray only as translaminar, rotate with Safari

Ask an Expert: Disease and Pest Management for Vegetable Crops

Q: Which vegetables do diseases and pests commonly target?

A: Some key targets are tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. For tomato plants, the biggest pest problem is the whitefly. Other issues that can pop up are botrytis foliar and bacterial blight. Cucumbers are often attacked by powdery mildew, as well as aphids and thrips. Aphids are also a huge problem for peppers, particularly hot and spicy varieties, which are being grown more all around the country.

Ask an Expert: Disease Protection During Plant Propagation

Q: How can growers combat disease during propagation where diseases are likely to arise?

A: The best environment for propagation — high humidity, high temperature and misting — is also perfect for disease development. The freshly germinated seed or cutting may be without roots, but the soft tissue is a prime candidate for soil-borne pathogen infections. 

Ask an Expert: Drench vs. Spray Product Recommendations

Q: What type of products would you recommend for a drench application and a spray application?

A: For example, 3336® F is a broad-spectrum fungicide that is readily absorbed into the plant upon contact (root or foliar) and moves systemically upward after absorption.

Ask an Expert: Fall ornamental pest management

Q: What are best practices for tackling ornamental pests such as fungus gnats, thrips and whiteflies?

A: Fungus gnat control begins with cultural activities to prevent the potential for larvae. Greenhouse sanitation, watering practices and media selection are critical, and should this fail, use chemical treatments that target fungus gnats in their two vulnerable stages: immature and adult. Control is made simple by drench or spray application to the media.

Thrips control is more difficult due to their ability to grow from egg to adult within one week and remain an active adult for more than one month. No known insecticide is effective on the pupal stage, so if you missed the larva by not using a translaminar insecticide as a spray, you’ll have to try to control the winged adult.

Regarding whiteflies, cultural activities and sanitation are also critical. Inspect all plant materials from propagators, and monitor each pest using sticky cards at plant level on benches. Remember that the egg stage and non-feeding pupae stages will not be controlled with pesticides—only the feeding larval stage and adult stage are controllable.

Ask an Expert: Fungicides and Insecticides for Vegetable Crops

Q: What products would you recommend for disease and pest management for vegetables?

A: Having a preventive plan in place is more beneficial than curative control when tackling vegetable plant pests. There are fungicide and insecticide products that can help manage an array of issues.

Ask an Expert: Insect Protection During Plant Propagation

Q: How can growers combat insect pests during plant propagation?

A: Insects may cause early damage if untreated, especially fungus gnats. Nufarm covers this need by preventing the larval stages from maturing using OMRI Listed® Gnatrol® Biological Larvicide or Distance® Insect Growth Regulator — both standards in the industry during propagation and production.

Ask an Expert: Insect Resistance Management Strategies

Q: With summer approaching, why is now a  good time to focus on insect resistance management strategies?

A: As the temperature increases, the insect population cycle shortens. This causes more and more insects throughout the summer. Typically there’s a bell curve that starts mid-April, peaks in August and drops off again in October. Insects are very active during this curve, so it’s important the grower is diligent about controlling them…

Ask an Expert: Preparing for Poinsettia and Chrysanthemum crops

Q: What advice would you give on managing the care of poinsettias and chrysanthemums?

A: The best growers know potential problems before they occur. They have scouts in the field and product in inventory to manage problems. Start with a clean greenhouse environment to reduce the potential for disease development. A good practice before starting these sensitive crops would be to take time to clean the greenhouses they will be grown in…

Ask an Expert: Pros and Cons of Drench vs. Spray

Q: Spring is on the horizon. Why is it crucial to consider drench or spray products now?

A: Most growers have small plugs and plant cuttings that are just starting to grow, so with spring approaching, they will have to decide if they are going to treat plants with drench or foliar spray applications. Drenching and sprays each have an important role in pest control. Treatment method depends on factors such as pest location (roots, crown, leaves) and product characteristics (solubility, absorption, translocation).