TECH ON DEMAND brought to you by GrowerTalks
Dynamics of Growing Media (Part 3): Successful Analysis & Interpretation

Dynamics of Growing Media (Part 3): Successful Analysis & Interpretation

May 5, 2022

In this episode of Tech On Demand brought to you by GrowerTalks, host Bill Calkins is joined by Troy Buechel, a Horticulture Specialist with Premier Tech, for the final episode in a three-part series discussing the technical side of growing media. Now that we’ve worked our way through testing and sampling, it’s on to analysis. Looking at returned data from tests conducted on growing media, water and plant tissue can seem overwhelming but Troy is going to walk you through it.

This episode begins with a look into the most important numbers to consider when you see results from a test. From pH to EC and macronutrients to micronutrients, a lot can be gleaned when you understand what’s most critical. Knowing deficiencies can quickly lead to reversing the issues at hand and bringing your crop back to its potential.

Next, Troy discusses contaminants that can lead to plant stress, such as sodium chloride, and what this can mean to a crop. Clear results from testing are important before starting to correct problems. Next, the discussion turns to the ranges you want to see related to pH, EC, macronutrients and micronutrients. The conversation gets pretty in-depth and technical so feel free to pause the podcast, make notes and then hit play again.

Another topic of conversation in this episode is types of tests and ways they are conducted. Some can be done easily, in house, while others require the expertise of a lab. Troy helps make sense of this, so you choose the best path. This episode (and series) ends with some real-world stories and situations Troy has encountered over the years. As you listen, you might start nodding because as we all know, no grower or greenhouse is immune to common problems, or even the weirdest ones.

You’ll want to listen all the way to the end of this episode, because the information builds throughout! Special thanks to Troy and the folks at Premier-Tech (the company behind Pro-Mix Growing Media) for lending much-needed expertise to such an important topic.

 

Premier Tech Resources:

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Dynamics of Growing Media (Part 2): Effective Sampling

Dynamics of Growing Media (Part 2): Effective Sampling

April 20, 2022

In this episode of Tech On Demand brought to you by GrowerTalks, host Bill Calkins is joined by Troy Buechel, a Horticulture Specialist with Premier Tech, for the second in a three-part series discussing the technical side of growing media. Sampling is perhaps the most critical part of diagnostics and getting to the root of problems in your greenhouse. “Junk in, junk out,” as they say. An effective sample allows you or an independent lab to figure out the cause of a problem, while a poor sample isn’t worth much. It’s really all about consistency.

Troy and Bill start by going over what makes a consistent sample—cultivar, size, planting date, greenhouse block, etc. Sampling random plants from different locations and conditions creates a very muddy picture and stands in the way of an accurate analysis. But following some simple protocols can make the picture much clearer and the solution similarly straightforward. Next, they run through a detailed sampling process.

Troy then covers some dos and don’ts when it comes to sampling, as well as sharing some stories from the field. Sending a whole plant can lead to problems, as can sending wet samples. The last thing you want a lab to receive is a bag of mush. Troy talks you through all the steps to take. They wrap up with a conversation about protocols to follow to ensure a quick, useful analysis.

You’ll want to listen all the way to the end of this episode, because the information builds throughout! Stay tuned for episode three, coming soon, where Troy and Bill tackle successful analysis and interpretation, because testing and sampling are done with a goal in mind. The goal is data to use in decision making. If you missed the first part in our series, The Importance of Testing, jump back in the archives and check it out.

 

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Dynamics of Growing Media (Part 1): The Importance of Testing

Dynamics of Growing Media (Part 1): The Importance of Testing

April 7, 2022

In this episode of Tech On Demand brought to you by GrowerTalks, host Bill Calkins is joined by Troy Buechel, a Horticulture Specialist with Premier Tech, for the first in a three-part series discussing the technical side of growing media. Assumptions and “trial and error” often lead to greater production problems, as well as wasted time money. Learn why proper testing of media, water and plant tissue is always the best bet, because without it, there’s no starting point in your mission to diagnose and correct issues.

Troy and Bill start by framing up the discussion by explain exactly why testing is important and should be done regularly, versus when a problem arises. Then, Troy begins the conversation by outlining the goals of testing—to establish trend lines related to pH, EC and nutrients to help paint a complete production picture. He details the parameters that should be tested, and when. Some can be tested twice a year (before spring and fall/winter production), while others need to be checked as often as weekly.

 

They spend a lot of time discussing testing tools, including the best types of pH and EC meters, because using bad tools that aren’t calibrated correctly is basically a waste of time. Before closing, Troy shares some real-world testing stories to highlight why these activities are so critical. Poor testing or no testing can lead to devastating results.

 

You’ll want to listen all the way to the end of this episode, because the information builds throughout! Stay tuned for episodes two and three, coming soon, where Troy and Bill tackle proper sampling and how to use returned results to make proper changes and get on a path to success.     

 

Premier Tech Resources

Check out Premier Tech’s Training Center, filled with videos and technical documents: https://www.pthorticulture.com/en/training-center/

 

Learn more about Premier Tech and PRO-MIX and their range of horticulture industry-leading media products: https://www.pthorticulture.com/en/

 

Continue the conversation by reaching out to the Premier Tech Grower Services Team: https://www.pthorticulture.com/en/grower-services/

 

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Talking Tech with Danziger’s Mike Fernandez: NGI Nuances, URC Priorities & Low-Input Baskets

Talking Tech with Danziger’s Mike Fernandez: NGI Nuances, URC Priorities & Low-Input Baskets

March 2, 2022

In this episode of Tech On Demand brought to you by GrowerTalks, host Bill Calkins is joined by Mike Fernandez, Danziger’s market manager for North America, a long-time plant guru and trusted source of knowledge to greenhouse professionals around the world. The three topics on the plate are production specifics for New Guinea and hybrid impatiens, prioritizing sticking plans for unrooted cuttings, while remaining flexible and the ins and outs of low-input planters and baskets.

Mike and Bill start of the episode with a quick discussion of the current market, including supply chain challenges impacting young plants, chemicals, media and fertilizer. Mike offers suggestions for the current state and advice moving forward. Next, they address environmental nuances to help produce New Guinea and hybrid impatiens, focusing on time and temperature. After that, Mike takes a hard look at why the best plan for creating protocols and schedules for URC sticking might just be to stay flexible and make informed decisions on the fly. He also shares tips for minimizing the stress this type of planning can cause. Finally, they discuss Mike’s trial results with low-input (two or three cuttings) production of baskets and patio pots. The goal with such programs, like Durabella from Danziger, is to help you produce high-quality, quick-turn 12-inch programs. The benefits of such programs extend from your bottom line through retail and onto the end consumer. It’s truly a triple win.

You’ll want to listen all the way to the end of this episode, because Mike has a lot of important information to share!    

 

Resources:

Danziger Variety & Production Information: https://www.danzigeronline.com

Danziger Digital Catalogs: https://www.danzigeronline.com/digital-catalog/

Durabella Combinations: https://files.danzigeronline.com/smart-view/annuals_21-22_na/141/

 

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Be Vigilant: Greenhouse Diseases in 2022 with Dr. Ann Chase & Dr. Aaron Palmateer

Be Vigilant: Greenhouse Diseases in 2022 with Dr. Ann Chase & Dr. Aaron Palmateer

February 16, 2022

In this episode of Tech On Demand brought to you by GrowerTalks, host Bill Calkins is joined by Dr. Ann Chase, owner of Chase Agricultural Consulting, and Dr. Aaron Palmateer, technical development lead for the ornamental business at SePRO. Both are expert-level plant disease gurus with decades of combined work in the field. The episode kicks off with a discussion about the top diseases to watch for in the coming year, including a deep dive into Botrytis and downy mildew. The guests discuss why innovation in disease control products is driving research and why this benefits growers around the world. Ann and Aaron then dive into bacterial diseases such as pectobacteria and agrobacteria and why diseases with latent or asymptomatic expression can be a particular nightmare. They also touch on less-devastating diseases and how to control them.

Next, Ann and Aaron tackle viruses, including TSWV, INSV and tospoviruses. It’s incredibly challenging to diagnose viruses, because they show such a range of symptoms, so our guests spend plenty of time discussing the importance of early recognition. The podcast wraps up with solutions, and a rundown of current products on the market. New premixes, new FRAC codes, biopesticides and biofungicides and broad-spectrum products are all on the table these days. Ann and Aaron are leading the way in research to help you understand and apply these new products.

 

Resources:

Dr. Ann Chase: archase@chaseresearch.net

Dr. Aaron Palmateer: aaronp@sepro.com

 

Chase Horticultural Research: www.chaseagri.com

SePRO: https://www.sepro.com/Hort

 

 

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Holding & Handling Unrooted Cuttings

Holding & Handling Unrooted Cuttings

December 20, 2021

Cuttings are arriving at greenhouses around the world and in order to get these young plants off to a great start, some processes and protocols need to be in place to hold and handle the cuttings between unboxing and sticking. What do you need to look for and how do you need to proceed to ensure uniformity in production? We’re going to address these questions and many more in this episode of the Tech On Demand podcast brought to you by GrowerTalks where our goal is always to bring you tips, tricks and information to produce your best crop ever. Be sure to subscribe to the Tech On Demand podcast on your favorite podcast app like iTunes, Spotify, Google, Stitcher and more so you never miss an episode.

Host Bill Calkins is joined by Dr. Will Healy, Senior Technical Manager at Ball Horticultural Company. This episode, Will is bringing you extremely relevant advice on how to handle cuttings when they arrive at your loading dock after a very long journey from their farms of origin. When they were harvested and packed, they were as healthy as can be. But we all know what can happen in a truck … From temperature roller coasters to severe dehydration, they often arrive in desperate need of attention. Are you and your team prepared to practice cuttings husbandry and even resuscitation before the little plants move to the transplant line? You will be after this podcast.

Visit the GrowerTalks Magazine Website

 

Next Level Engagement, Growth and Brand Building

Next Level Engagement, Growth and Brand Building

November 15, 2021

In this episode of Tech On Demand brought to you by GrowerTalks, host Bill Calkins is joined by the dynamic Sam Kirkland, strategic relationship manager with Epicor Software Corporation to discuss how to leverage local messaging, technology and measurable programs to drive significant bottom-line growth. According to Sam, modern engagement strategies proving successful in garden center retail (and other industries) include community and local messaging, customer growth management and loyalty marketing. All of these pieces work together to generate dollars that go straight to the bottom line.

 

Sam and Bill start by looking at the tremendous growth the horticultural industry has seen in the past two years and why it’s important to support, retain and grow the new folks walking through garden center doors. They quickly move into tactical ways to market a business to drive loyalty and the importance of following a plan. Once plans and tactics are in place, it’s time to create key performance indicators and measurements to track your efforts. Sam has plenty of anecdotal and data-driven stories of how successful garden centers have approached this process using technology. As he says, “Now is the time to realize the benefits of all of your hard work.”

 

When you begin to think about customer loyalty as a driving goal, interesting information emerges. Your most engaged shoppers spend more and shop more often. They gravitate toward products you recommend, and they evangelize your business to others in the community. Often, they shop with you every season and view your store as their on-stop-shop for everything garden related. And they’re your most profitable group. You want more of them.

 

 

Resources:

 

Epicor for Retail

 

Article: 3 Retail Strategies to Win Customer Loyalty

 

Case Study: Weston Nurseries & Customer Loyalty

 

Visit the GrowerTalks Magazine Website

 

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Structures Strategies: Build New or Refresh?

Structures Strategies: Build New or Refresh?

October 29, 2021

In this episode of Tech On Demand brought to you by GrowerTalks, host Bill Calkins is joined by Paul Golden, Sales Manager for Commercial Growing with Prospiant Inc., to discuss how you should approach the decision to build new greenhouses or retrofit or repurpose your current structures to meet new crop needs or prepare for product mix shifts in the future. They look at many angles this episode, from the physical structure and components inside to the people who work under the greenhouse roof. Your greenhouse structures serve diverse purposes and impact just about every factor in your business, including the health and success of each crop, as well as labor, efficiency and employee attitudes.

Through this podcast, Paul and Bill touch on all of these factors and more moving from the structural functionalities needed for your equipment to how your existing layout impacts labor and efficiency. One key factor to consider when deciding to build new or refresh is the cost of maintenance and Paul spends plenty of time on this. Perhaps shifting these expenses towards a new build is a better bet long term. The podcast concludes with a discussion geared toward hybrid business, grower-retailers. If you have plans to add a retail component to your business, due to increased demand in the past few years, you have a whole new set of considerations, beginning with the fundamental question: Is your greenhouse structurally sound? You also need to think about the shopping environment and whether your current facility is conducive to people with a far different tolerance for the greenhouse environment than your staff.

Resources:

Prospiant Website: https://www.prospiant.com

Prospiant Horticultural Information & Resources: https://www.prospiant.com/flowers-retail-horticulture-greenhouses/

GrowerTalks Magazine Website: https://www.growertalks.com/

At Risk Crops: Pansy Part Three (Finishing)

At Risk Crops: Pansy Part Three (Finishing)

August 25, 2021

In this episode, Ball Senior Technical Manager Dr. Will Healy and host Bill Calkins rethink Fall and Spring Pansy propagation in an effort to help you start your best crop ever. This is the final part in a 3-part series covering this critical multi-season crop. This time, Will starts with a discussion of Pansy Mottle Syndrome (what to watch for and how to mitigate the risk) before tackling common grow-out issues. Will and Bill talk about ways to speed up a crop, as well as strategies to slow your pansies down.

You’ll want to listen all the way to the end of this podcast and then share it with your production team. Your best bet is to make sure everyone is on the same page immediately before and after transplant. The finishing stage is not a time to deal with disease, so Will talks about prevention and control tactics. Finally, he offers suggestions for post-harvest prep, with the goal of shipping the best crop possible to your retail and landscape customers.

 

Resources:

GrowerTalks Insecticide, Miticide & Fungicide Guide: https://www.growertalks.com/pdf/2021_IMF_Guide.pdf

GrowerTalks Annuals PGR Guide: https://www.growertalks.com/pdf/Annuals_PGR_Guide_2021.pdf

Ball Tech On Demand At Risk Crop Video Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8NX3KFjAfBmEPwUH0frx_EYTu_dofILX

Training Your Team to Water Video: https://youtu.be/SCPPT0IXlLY

In this At Risk Crop series, each episode looks at risk factors, as well as methods of control for specific crops, with additional resources available at https://www.ballseed.com/QuickCulture/ProductionGuides/

 

At Risk Crops: Pansy Part Two (Receiving & Transplant)

At Risk Crops: Pansy Part Two (Receiving & Transplant)

August 11, 2021

In this episode of Tech On Demand brought to you by GrowerTalks, host Bill Calkins is joined by Ball Senior Technical Manager Dr. Will Healy to discuss inherent risk with Fall and Spring Pansy crops. Pansies are a relatively quick crop with plenty of nuances. If your team is experienced, you’re most likely not too worried about getting them to market. Nonetheless, crop uniformity, moisture management and nutrition are some key areas to keep fresh in the minds of your crew. Will is as experienced with pansies as anyone in the industry and in this series, he’s going to take you from start to finish using the latest techniques.

 

Will covers the stage when you receive plugs and transplant them into finished containers by focusing on greenhouse environment and crop culture. He starts with tips and strategies for receiving plugs in an effort to minimize risk with young plants. Then he moves into the processes to put in place prior to transplant, such as sanitation, temperature and RH management and nutrition. Next, he covers what your team needs to know immediately following transplant by digging deep into irrigation and nutrition.

 

You’ll want to listen all the way to the end of this episode and then share it with your production team. Your best bet is to make sure everyone is on the same page before you sow the first seed.

 

Resources:

 

Slideshow that accompanies this podcast: https://www.slideshare.net/bcalkins/tech-on-demand-in-the-break-room-pansy-part-two

 

 

Tech On Demand At Risk Crops YouTube Playlist: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8NX3KFjAfBmEPwUH0frx_EYTu_dofILX

 

Visit the GrowerTalks Magazine Website: https://www.growertalks.com/

 

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