Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Overture Registered for Thrips and Caterpillars

Overture 35 WP Insecticide is a new class of insecticide marketed by Valent Professional Products that is active against thrips and caterpillars. This new insecticide contains the active ingredient pyridalyl. This product has an unknown mode of action. Overture is a contact insecticide that is applied as a foliar spray.

Overture is only registered as a greenhouse product. Hopefully, Valent will be able to obtain a registration that will allow Overture to be used outdoors.

Control of thrips is often not seen for 7 to 14 days after treatment. With the recent concern regarding western flower thrips resistance to Conserve, Overture can be a valuable component of a rotation program. Overture should be considered most effective when used as a preventative treatment or as a rotation product. Overture will be an excellent product to use in rotation with Conserve, Pylon and other thrips insecticides.

I have conduced a number of trial evaluating Overture. The results varied slightly depending on the western flower thrips population I was evaluating. However, in all the trials, Overture resulted in a decrease in thrips population. When tested against a western flower thrips population that was resistant to Conserve, the Overture treatments resulted in thrips control after 14 days.

Overture has provided excellent control of chilli thrips. It’s also effective in controlling many lepidopterous larvae, including azalea caterpillar, cabbage looper, tobacco budworm and many more.

For more information on efficacy trials conducted with Overture and other insecticides against chilli thrips, gladiolus thrips, weeping fig thrips and western flower thrips check out a report recently published by the IR-4 Ornamental Horticulture Program. This report can be found at http://ir4.rutgers.edu/ornamental/summaryreports/thripsdatasummary2008.pdf
This report summarizes 26 experiments in which 38 different active ingredients were evaluated.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sherman Clem Receives Distinguished Achievement Award

Sherman Clem has been recognized by the Southern Chapter of the Horticultural Inspection Society with its Distinguished Achievement Award. If you ever have been lucky enough to have Sherman as your Department of Agriculture inspector, you will agree that this is a well deserved award.

Sherman Clem is a Senior Inspector for the Texas Department of Agriculture and is the lead inspector for the Smith County/Tyler rose industry and the point of contact agency wide on rose related issues. More recently he has taken on the task of lead inspector to control the flow of regulated articled into the state of Texas.

In choosing a Distinguished Achievement Award winner, the Horticultural Inspection Society considers an individual's performance to HISSC and/or the state where employed; recognition from peers in the plant industry; ability to work harmoniously with other inspectors and solve problems on plant protection issues; and the promotion of high standards and sharing of expertise with fellow employees and members of the HISSC.

The inspector who nominated Sherman noted that he has "demonstrated extraordinary customer service to the nursery industry" throughout his 34-plus year career.

Congratulation Sherman!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Temporary Meeting Registration Problem

If you have tried to register online for the East Texas Nursery and Greenhouse Conference this week and have been unable to get though to the site you have discovered that the site is down. The Conference Services' website has been down since at least Monday. They have been working to get the site back up. At this time they hope to have the site back up by the end of the day Thursday (10/16/08). However, that is an estimation.

Conference Services is taking phone registrations at 979-845-2604. You can still mail in your registration form with a check.

I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Help Wanted - Extension Assistant

The East Texas Nursery and Greenhouse IPM Program in Overton, TX has a full time position open for an Extension Assistant to conduct research and demonstration projects related to greenhouse and nursery pest management. Duties include: applying pesticides, keeping detailed records of procedures and data, record and analyze data, conduct statistical analyses and prepare reports for inclusion in scientific and technical publications using computers and relevant software. Maintain plants and insects for research in greenhouses and outdoor nurseries. Assist with preparing fact sheets, web pages, and brochures. Aid in organizing and conducting meetings, workshops, field days and other educational activities. More information is available at http://greatjobs.tamu.edu. The NOV number for the position is 03778. For more information contact me at 903-834-6191 or swludwig@tamu.edu.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dr. Kevin Ong Named Director of the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory

Dr. Kevin Ong, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service plant pathologist, has been named director of the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

Ong replaces the laboratory’s founder, Dr. Larry Barnes, who retired at the end of August, said Dr. David Appel, associate department head in plant pathology and microbiology at Texas A&M University.

“We were lucky to have Larry here to establish such a good diagnostic clinic, and we were lucky to have had Kevin here to take over,” Appel said.

Ong will oversee this nationally acclaimed laboratory in College Station that has provided diagnostic services for the state since 1981, Appel said.

The laboratory is responsible for providing AgriLife Extension education efforts in diseases of greenhouse crops, nursery crops, landscape ornamental plants and indoor plants, he said. Biosecurity issues also have been added to the clinic’s list of responsibilities.

“Larry left big shoes to fill,” Ong said, “but I’m looking forward to the new challenge.”

Prior to his new appointment, Ong spent six years as an AgriLife Extension urban plant pathologist at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1993 from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree in biology in 1997 from Temple University and a doctorate degree in plant pathology in 2001 from Clemson University.

“Kevin has a terrific personality to work with our clientele,” Appel said. “And he’s got a very strong background in plant pathology.

“We just felt there was nobody better anywhere in the country that would be able to step in and live up to the standards that have been set out there,” he said.

Colleagues around the state will applaud Ong’s appointment as they celebrate Barnes’ fine career, Appel said.

Barnes, who earned his doctorate degree from Texas A&M in 1983, spent 27 years overseeing the diagnostic laboratory.

“He consolidated all of the diagnostic efforts into one lab and built it up from scratch to become one of the premier diagnostic labs in the country,” Appel said. “It is recognized as such by his peers.”

Barnes also is recognized as the best ornamental plant pathologist in the state, Appel said. He has done a great deal of applied research on disease control involving several ornamentals. He has the respect of professionals in the nursery industry and hundreds of volunteer Master Gardeners who he helped train over the years.

Always modest, Barnes is quick to point out that the laboratory was the vision of his former supervisor, Dr. Wendell Horne, Appel said.

“But I’m not sure that even Wendell ever dreamed that it would become one of the biggest and busiest diagnostic labs in the country,” he said.

Story by Mike Jackson

Monday, September 1, 2008

Insecticide resistance threatens thrips pest management

Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) are difficult to control. Their secluded behavior protects them from many insecticides; eggs are inserted into plant tissue, the larvae feed in tight, protected areas, such as flower buds or growth terminals, the pupal stages occur in the soil-media, and the adults feed within protected areas. Thrips may eventually come into contact with insecticides when the right spray equipment and application interval are used. However, chemical control may not be effective when there is insecticide resistance in the population. In response to high levels of resistance recently found in vegetable fields in Florida, Dow AgroSciences has suspended the sale and use of products containing spinosad in Broward County and a portion of Palm Beach County, FL.

This drastic and unprecedented action taken by Dow AgroSciences in Florida is yet another ‘red flag’ indicating the importance and possible consequences of insecticide resistance. We should all view this as an opportunity to take a closer look at our pest control toolbox and make sure it includes sound insecticide resistance management practices, to avoid similar problems in Texas. The good new is that so far, most Texas growers have thrips populations that are still susceptible to spinosad (Conserve®). Earlier this year, I monitored western flower thrips for their tolerance to spinosad. Most of the greenhouse locations sampled did not have large thrips populations. Since these growers primarily use Conserve®, the low populations suggest good efficacy in most cases. However, I did detect very high tolerance levels (immunity) to Conserve at one Texas location. Since then this particular grower has agreed to completely stop using Conserve for at least 6 months.

The most important thing we can do to avoid pesticide resistance is to properly rotate pesticides based on their mode of action. Rotation is essential for all pesticides groups: herbicides, fungicides, bactericides and insecticides. The first evidence of resistance is usually reduced efficacy against the target pest even when the pesticide was properly applied at the recommended rate. If you suspect a pest population is developing tolerance to a particular chemical, continued use or increasing the rate of the product will only accelerate the rate of resistance selection, eventually leading to complete control failure.

To avoid resistance to spinosad, do not make more than two consecutive applications of Conserve®. If additional treatments are needed, rotate with products with different mode of action for at least two subsequent applications. There are a number of effective products available for thrips control. The list includes (but is not limited to) those products containing abamectin, Beauveria bassiana, chlorfenapyr, chlorpyrifos, dimethoate, fenoxycarb, methiocarb, novaluron, pyridalyl and tau-fluvalinate.

If you suspect insecticide resistance or need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

East Texas Nursery and Greenhouse Conference

Join your fellow nursery and greenhouse growers for the 2008 East Texas Nursery and Greenhouse Conference on October 28th at the Harvey Convention Center in Tyler, TX. Again this year we will also be having a Hispanic Worker Conference. I hope that both of these conference will meet the pest management education needs of your greenhouse or nursery.

October 28, 2008, 8 a.m.
Location: Harvey Convention Center, Tyler
Fee: $30 before October 24, $40 onsite
Registration: The registration is being handled by Texas AgriLife Extension Conference Services (click here to register). Payment can be made by check or credit card.
CEUs: 5 TDA CEUs (3 general, 1 IPM, 1 Law and Reg) - submitted for approval

Nursery and Greenhouse Conference

Pest management issues impacting nursery and greenhouse producers
Dr. Scott Ludwig, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

What's new in ornamental fungicides?
Dr. Mary Hausbeck, Michigan State University

Management of downy and powdery mildew
Dr. Mary Hausbeck, Michigan State University

Enhancing effectiveness of pest control by natural enemies & biological insecticides
Dr. Carlos Bográn, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Hiring a legal workforce
Dr. Marco Palma, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Update from the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
Dr. Kevin Ong, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Feral hog control: What is legal and what is not
Dr. Billy Higgenbotham, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Hispanic Workers Conference

Principles of effective crop management I
Dr. Claudio Pasian, The Ohio State University

Principles of effective crop management II
Dr. Claudio Pasian, The Ohio State University

Sanitation and how to avoid and prevent pest/disease problems
Dr. Carlos Bográn, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Detection and basic diagnosis of pests and diseases
Dr. Carlos Bográn, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Safe and effective pesticide applications
Dr. Carlos Bográn, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chilli Thrips and Pink Hibiscus Mealybugs Invade Houston

Two insect pest species that made news last year because of their first appearance in Texas are causing serious problems for homeowners and landscapers in the Houston area. While these pests are currently in the landscape, they have the potential to move into production greenhouses and nurseries.

Populations of the pink hibiscus mealybug were recently confirmed in Brazoria, Galveston and Harris counties, triggering TV-news coverage and subsequent reports from homeowners in a number of areas in Houston. The Texas Department of Agriculture, after confirming the pink hibiscus mealybug infestations, have initiated surveys of surrounding areas and will be making releases of natural enemies. Biological control has provided excellent control in Florida and will likely be the long term solution in Texas. Using reduced risks insecticides such as insecticidal soaps and oils, in combination with good sanitation practices should help homeowners minimize plant losses and facilitate establishment of released natural enemies.

A large population of chilli thrips was also detected recently in Houston. A survey was conducted of the entire Medical Center complex and chilli thrips or signs of chilli thrips were found at every rose bed. Chilli thrips were also found on other roses outside the Medical Center. The actual distribution of the infestation is currently unknown.

It is important to remember that chilli thrips attack more than just roses. They can attack a wide range of landscape plants, horticulture crops and row crops.

For the most up to date information on chilli thrips in Texas visit http://chillithrips.tamu.edu/. I will be updating the site this weekend. New information should be posted by August 5th.

Monday, July 14, 2008

NTNGA Memorial Greenhouse Ribbon Cutting

On July 10th, eighty growers and AgriLife faculty attend the ribbon cutting for the NTNGA Memorial Greenhouse. I would like to thank the Northeast Texas Nursery Growers Association for their support and hard work to make the greenhouse a reality.

This project was made possible through support from the following sponsors (as of 7/14/08):

Financial Contributions by:
  • Bruce Miller Nursery and Farm
  • Chitty Wholesale Nursery
  • Circle G NurseryEstes, Inc
  • Kimbrew-Walter Roses, Inc.
  • Landmark Wholesale Nurseries
  • The LETCO Group LLC
  • Northeast Texas Nursery Growers Association
  • OHP, Inc
  • Ran Pro Farms
  • Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, Region 3
  • Tru-Liner Nursery Company
  • Helena Chemical
  • Troy & Mary Moser, in memory of Doug Burrows
Equipment Donated by:
  • Dosmatic U.S.A., Inc. (Injectors)
  • Dramm Corporation (Hoses, watering wands, etc)
  • Kinney Bonded Warehouse, Inc. (Reduced greenhouse price)
  • Texas IPM Program (Benches, utility pole, and horizontal airflow fans)
  • East Texas Nursery & Greenhouse Program (Installation of water, electricity, & natural gas)
If you are interested in helping sponsor the NTNGA Memorial Greenhouse project, please email Jade Hopson at Circle G Nursery, or phone her at (903) 963-5255.

The following press release was issued on July 14th by Robert Burns of the Texas A&M Agriculture Program. An audio clip is also available.

New Greenhouse Will Concentrate on More Environmentally Friendly Insect Controls

A new greenhou
se largely funded by the Texas nursery plant industry will research ways to reduce chemical use and increase biological control of insect and other pests, said Texas AgriLife Extension Service experts.

The greenhouse, which was built on the grounds of the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton, was dedicated to industry leaders in a brief ceremony July 10. Attendees included commercial nursery owners and their families, and faculty from AgriLife Extension and Texas AgriLife Research.

"The greenhouse will be used to conduct research on integrated pest management techniques to support the East Texas bedding plant and nursery industry," said Dr. Scott Ludwig, AgrLife Extension entomologist and integrated pest management specialist based at Overton.

Integrated pest management, commonly known as " IPM," strives to use less chemical pesticides by correct timing of applications, pest identification and biological controls.

In Smith, Cherokee, Henderson and Van Zandt counties, the industry has wholesale gate receipts of $300 million, with a proportionally larger total economic impact on the region, Ludwig said.

As the Northeast Texas Greenhouse and Nursery Growers have members as far west as Dallas who will benefit from the work done at the greenhouse, the economic impact is even larger, said Dr. Roland Smith, associate director of AgriLife Extension.

The greenhouse and nursery industry is big business in Texas agriculture, ranking third in terms of cash receipts behind only beef cattle and cotton, Smith said.

"In 2007, the Northeast Texas Greenhouse and Nursery Growers were responsible for about three quarters of a billion dollars of cash receipts for their industry," Smith said. "This amounts to about 40 percent of the state’s total of greenhouse and nursery output."

The greenhouse was funded by the Northeast Texas Nursery Growers Association Memorial fund, which members started to honor association members who have passed away, said James Wilhite, owner of Wilhite Landscaping and Lawn Care, Tyler.

"Each time there is a benefit from this experimental greenhouse, we’ll remember the friends that have passed on before us that have made the nursery and landscape industry such a pleasurable place to work," Wilhite said.

One of those remembered will be Floyd Trammel, owner of Tram Tex Nursery Incorporated in Tyler. Trammel, who was one of the founding members of the Northeast Texas Nursery Growers Association, died in November 2007.

"We’ve lost several of our fellow nurserymen last year, along with my father, said Cyndi Trammel, who now manages Tram Tex.

"Our nursery is doing very well and being very successful because we have places like this that will do the testing for us," Trammel said. "As you can imagine running a full-time growing operation, it would be very difficult for us to set up a lab like this and be able to run the tests and do them effectively."

Trammel said she favors using environmental pest controls whenever possible because they're safer for workers to use.

Ludwig said the research will benefit growers statewide. "As the public demand for organic and sustainable-produced plants increase, it is important that growers have the know-how to meet the needs of the market," Ludwig said. "This facility will enable AgriLife Extension to conduct research that will aid growers to produce healthier plants for landscapes and homes."

Friday, June 20, 2008

NTNGA Memorial Greenhouse

The Northeast Texas Nursery Growers Association has established the NTNGA Memorial Fund. The mission of the NTNGA Memorial Fund is to promote the nursery industry, provide the most up to date and relevant information to our members, and to assist in the establishment and ongoing work of programs that provide our members with vital information. The first project the fund is supporting is the construction of NTNGA Memorial Greenhouse at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton to provide the industry with vital research needed to support their industry.

This project was made possible through support from the following sponsors (as of 6/20/08):

Financial Contributions
Bruce Miller Nursery and Farm
Circle G Nursery
Kimbrew-Walter Roses, Inc.
Landmark Wholesale Nurseries
Northeast Texas Nursery Growers Association
OHP, Inc
Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, Region 3
Tru-Liner Nursery Company

Equipment Donated by:
Dosmatic U.S.A., Inc. (Injectors)
Dramm Corporation (Hoses, watering wands, etc)
Kinney Bonded Warehouse, Inc. (Reduced greenhouse price)
Texas IPM Program (Benches - partial)

If you are interested in helping sponsor the NTNGA Memorial Greenhouse project, please contact Jade Hopson at Circle G Nursery (jadehopson@sbcglobal.net) or (903) 963-5255.

For more information on the NTNGA Memorial Greenhouse and follow its construction visit http://etipm.tamu.edu/greenhouse.cfm.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

New Scale on Croton

This spring a never described species of soft scale was discovered on crotons in Florida. The scale was first found on April 9th at a nursery in Marathon, FL. Since that time it has been found in 11 Florida counties.

Why is this important to Texas growers? Most crotons sold in Texas started off as liners in Florida. Although the scale have not been found in Texas, this is another example of the importance of properly inspecting liners, plugs, and any other plant material you bring into your facility.

For more information on this new scale species see the Florida DPI Pest Alert at

Photograph credit: Lyle Buss, University of Florida

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Southwest Growers Conference

This years Southwest Growers Conference will be held in Conroe, TX on July 8-9, 2008. Meeting and registration information information is available on the conference website (http://swgrowers.tamu.edu).

On Tuesday, July 8, there will be tours to four innovative nursery/greenhouse operations.

On Wednesday, July 9, there will be a full day of timely educational sessions at the Lone Star Exposition Center. Two morning sessions will focus on the practical and economic applications of environmental sustainability. Afterwards, a session on hiring a legal work force will cap off the morning program. In the afternoon, there will be sessions on water quality and alkalinity, controlling new insect and disease pests, the use of PGR's, reducing weed control costs, and a laws/regs session to cap off the day. TDA Certified Pest Applicator CEU credits as well as TNLA CEU credits will be available.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Texas Chilli Thrips Update

There has been a lot of questions and concerns regarding chilli thrips over the last year. I thought this would be a good time to provide an update. The good news is that we have only been able to confirm one infestation in Texas. Last fall a homeowner in Houston submitted a sample from plants in her yard that were being damage. It turned out that the damage was caused by chilli thrips. The unusual damage caused by this thrips to the plant's foliage is the easiest methods to detect this pest (see photo).

There are no indications that any greenhouse or nursery producers in Texas are infested. One of the most important ways of keeping your facility clean is to properly inspect all incoming plant material.

If there is any good news about this pest, it is that at this time there appears to be a number of insecticides that will kill it. Almost any insecticide that is label for thrips control will kill chilli thrips. Abamectin, chlorfenapyr, pyridalyl, spinosad and systemic insecticides (acephate, acetamiprid, clothianadin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam) applied as a foliar sprays have been shown to be effective in efficacy testing.

For more information on chilli thrips in Texas visit http://chillithrips.tamu.edu/.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Excluding Weed Seed from Containers

Weed management often suffers when there is a labor shortage. Good cultural and sanitation practices will reduce the number of weed seeds infesting containers and increase herbicide effectiveness in preventing weed germination and development.

The goal of a successful weed management program is to prevent weeds from germinating and competing with the crop by using a combination of cultural and chemical control tactics within an integrated management approach.

Weed free growing areas can be created with a good drainage system, gravel, concrete, weed-barrier (geotextile) or other organic or inorganic mulch. Exclude weeds by using weed-free growing substrates and preventing establishment of seeds carried by wind, irrigation water, equipment and tools. Cover stored substrate materials to prevent weed contamination. Substrates harboring weed seeds may be treated with heat or chemicals before use. Install and maintain filters or treat recycled and surface irrigation water to eliminate seeds. Clean plant debris and spilled potting-mix and avoid excess irrigation and standing water. All of these create habitat and favorable conditions for many weed species. Some weeds can germinate and grow in container drainage holes and directly compete with the plant for water and nutrients.

Maintaining weed-free non-crop areas is probably the easiest and the most effective sanitary practice for reducing weed seed numbers in your containers. Many weeds can project seeds over a large area (bittercress and oxalis); it is important to keep these plants from establishing in and around growing beds. Regular mowing of roadways, drainage ditches, areas between nursery beds, etc., will drastically reduce weed seed number and improve weed control.

Herbicides provide an effective means of managing weed in hard to mow locations. Post-emergence herbicides can be used to eliminate existing weeds and pre-emergence herbicides used to prevent weed germination and re-growth. Water quality and quantity may affect herbicide effectiveness. High water pH and dissolved organic compounds may reduce herbicide performance. Avoid herbicide leaching and runoff by limiting irrigation water after herbicide applications. Always read and follow directions on pesticide labels.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Western Flower Thrips

Western flower thrips are out in full force. If you have sensitive crops it is important not to let your thrips population get out of hand.

Growers were provided a brief relief from western flower thrips when Conserve SC was labeled for ornamental crops. Unfortunately, there are cases being reported of western flower thrips not responding to Conserve label rate applications.

This developing tolerance may be a result of some growers not following the label instructions. The Conserve SC label states “no more than three consecutive applications should be used, nor should there be continuous use for more than 30 days. Consider rotating to a different active ingredient with a different mode of action or use no treatment for the next generation" and "Regardless of the crop or pest being treated (excluding leafminers, spider mites and/or diamondback moths), do not apply Conserve SC more than 10 times in a 12-month period inside a greenhouse or a structure that can be altered to be closed or open”.

Due to the intense nearly year-round thrips pressure some growers face, they are exceeding the three consecutive applications and the 10 total applications per year. One common mistake growers make is applying Conserve repeatedly for thrips and then again for caterpillars, mites, or leafminers. This causes them to exceed the number of total applications that can be made in a year. It is critical to follow the label instructions to reduce the development of resistance in western flower thrips to Conserve.

The recent labeling of Pylon for western flower thrips control provides greenhouse growers (not labeled for outdoor use) a highly effective rotation partner to use with Conserve. As with Conserve it is important to follow the resistance management component of the Pylon label to lengthen the period of efficacy of this product for thrips management.

There are a number of other insecticides that can be used in rotation for thrips management. These include, but are not limited to, Avid, Azain XL, BotaniGard, Enstar II, Pedestal, Mesurol and Orthene.

I am currently working on a project to monitor the tolerance level of western flower thrips to Conserve in East Texas. I will report more on this when the project is completed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Blogging is new to me.  I am hoping that this "new" technology will be an easy method for greenhouse and nursery growers to receive current pest management information.  If you would like updates sent directly to your email enter your email address in the appropriate box at the right of this page.

This blog will enable me to communicate advances in greenhouse and ornamental IPM, provide meeting information, and distribute efficacy study results and newsletters.

If you are a nursery or greenhouse producer in East Texas, or anywhere else, I hope that you will subscribe to this blog to stay ahead of those pesky insects, mites, weeds, and diseases.