General

Energy Grants

It is a tough time of year for greenhouse businesses to apply for energy grants, however, it may be something to think about for future opportunities if you don't have time now.

Grants and loans are available for greenhouse growers and other agricultural industries to support investments in energy-efficiency improvements and renewable energy. The USDA Rural Development Office recently announced that $220.9 million is available to agricultural producers and rural small businesses. Application deadlines are April 15 and June 16.

Poinsettia Crop

Phytophthora root and crown rot caused by P. nicotianae has been found on recently transplanted poinsettia cuttings.

The optimum conditions for disease are saturated soil and high temperatures. The pathogen does not travel easily through the air for long distances. It is possible that contaminated irrigation water can introduce the fungus to new sites but it is very difficult to detect Phytophthora in irrigation water.

Energy Audits and Financial Incentives

Several greenhouse businesses received financial incentives for energy conservation and renewable energy systems this year. More funding is available and now is a good time to find out if you qualify and how to apply.

www.dsireusa.org is a comprehensive source of information on federal, state, local and utility incentive programs. The following are some incentives for CT and MA that apply to greenhouse and nursery operations.

Bittersweet Invasives

It's that time of year when Oriental bittersweet berries are in abundant supply and show up as wreaths, swags and in other decorative crafts for sale at roadside stands and other retail outlets. This is just a reminder that bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is considered an invasive plant along with purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) and many others. Connecticut has 96 plants on the official state list that are invasive or potentially invasive and 81 of those are banned.

Pesticide Use Tips

As you gear up for the growing season, be sure to carefully read pesticide labels before purchasing a new product. Some products with different trade names have the same active ingredients. Some products may have different active ingredients, but have the same mode of action (MOA). Growers will see more generic products on the market as pesticides come off patent, which can make choosing pesticides very confusing. There are now many different products containing imidacloprid, abamectin, bifenthrin, permethrin, chlorothalonil and thiophanate methyl.

Changing Weather

The weekend weather forecast calls for sunny days with temperatures in the mid to high 80’s following this week of cool, cloudy weather. As a result, there is a strong possibility, your spring crops will experience summer temperatures in a greenhouse with little or no shading in place. Even one or two days of bright sunshine with temperatures in the high 80’s can stress bedding plants and hangers with rooting systems that are not fully developed. Delicate foliage of shade plants such as impatiens will be susceptible to sunburn.

Reducing Storm Damage to Your Greenhouses

Nature seems to be getting more violent in recent years with frequent earthquakes, increased numbers of hurricanes and record breaking snowstorms. Insurance damage claims have increased considerably. The International Building Code has revised upward its wind and snow loading requirements for some areas of the U.S. Each year there are reports of greenhouses that have been damaged by weather and natural events. Greenhouse design is different than conventional farm buildings in that the structural profile has to be small to allow maximum light to reach the plants.

Employee Training - Pest and Beneficial Insect Identification

Employee training is an important part of pest management in greenhouses. If you have high turnover, training new employees will make them more productive. They will feel better about themselves and their job. They may even stick around longer! Employees that conduct routine maintenance such as watering, spacing and pinching plants in the greenhouse, would be even more valued if they could also recognize a pest infestation cropping up in a hot spot. One early pest treatment or catching a problem before disastrous consequences would more than pay for the training costs.

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