On January 24, 2023, six growers from Van Belle YoungPlants travelled to Wilsonville, Oregon to participate in the 2023 International Plant Propagators Society Western Region meeting. We joined about 120 other horticultural professionals to network, chat, laugh, learn and share.
The last few years in the West have had some extreme weather events like heat domes, record cold, rainfall and drought, and many of the speakers connected climate resiliency to their topics.
Lloyd Nackley from OSU spoke on defining drought stress and gave us some practical ideas about how to measure water use and need in both container and field grown crops. He emphasized the importance of measuring and recording observations, focusing on plant health and not just plant production.
Gabriel Campbell Martinex from Portland State University shared the trials he has been doing on germinating seeds that have been stored for long periods of time in the Berry Seed Bank.
Scott Lukas from OSU reviewed the trials that they have been doing on producing blueberries in the less-than-ideal growing conditions of the Columbia basin. BC, Oregon and Washington are some of the biggest producers of blueberries, but there have been some pest and disease challenges in these areas that don’t occur east of the Cascades–if the soil pH can be properly modified, it can be an excellent place to grow this popular fruit.
Emerald Ash Borer, has been found on the west coast, this time in Forest Grove, Oregon. Max Ragozzino from the Oregon Department of Agriculture explained the situation and the plan to control the spread. This is another pest for the nursery industry to deal with, but with lessons learned from the east coast, the spread will hopefully be controlled and manageable.
Della Fetzer spoke on how to improve processes, describing how to map the current way tasks are being completed and then how to find ways to reduce complexity by observing, listening and diagramming the current state and then simplifying the future state. A key takeaway is to use fewer words and more diagrams and pictures to explain processes.
Todd Wood told us about how he loves to kill plants at the NDSU Woody Plant Improvement Program. Their goals are to breed trees and shrubs that are cold tolerant and suitable for the Northern Great Plains and to test trees and shrubs already in the market for cold hardiness. We hope to work with him to both test our current collection for hardiness and to possibly introduce some material from his program through our networks.
Finally, Mike Taylor from the Blackmore Company discussed ways to improve root structure on plants by employing air pruning. Key takeaway: we need to find ways to prevent plants from rooting into the tarp when they are growing on the ground.
Thursday morning we toured the tissue culture propagator North American Plants, Robinson Nursery which specializes in trees and Monrovia Nursery, well known in the industry for their quality plant material and wide selection of varieties.
We heard from Ryan Contreras from OSU who works on breeding non-invasive cultivars of popular ornamental plants. Loren Oki from UC Davis explained the research behind their list of the best low-water plants for California homeowners.
We visited Smith Gardens in Aurora and were really impressed by their clean and organized operation. Next, we went to the North Willamette Research Station where they have several field trials including testing various olive varieties for their suitability in Oregon, and we had a presentation about the education and training that they offer to support nurseries in the area.
Finally, we went to Little Prince Nursery. They have grown and changed many times over the years, constantly adapting to the market and the needs of their customers. We were impressed by their lunch room with beautiful wooden tables and a full industrial kitchen.
Benjamin Hoover reported on his studies with biochar and came to the conclusion that it is not cost-effective at this time to use in growing media. Laura Miller took us through the plan for the upcoming international tour in the Southern Region and we shared a few nuggets of our own knowledge.
We were thankful for the opportunity to join IPPS in person and came home with some great ideas!