Ken's musings

Happy Holidays To Everyone!

I hope your Season is free of record cold temperatures so you can enjoy the holidays with your family. It is December and amazingly the fall color in Auburn is just now a day or two past the peak. The colors have been great in our area. I could sell all the Chinese Pistache that I could find if I could get people to view the sun filtering through the bright yellow, orange and red canopies.

We need to find a way to reliably capture some of these great selections for their form and color. We will try again to graft some this year and send some scion wood to some grafters who have less than the 5 thumbs I inherited. Heritage Seedlings in Oregon said they had good success.

Japanese maples provide a dazzling array of fall colors. The Acer palmatum Dr. Tilt is a fine example (no need for humility here):

Yellow Japanese maples add to the exciting palette of fall colors:

And the orange Japanes maples shouldn't be missed:

The depth of color in the Quercus coccinia can be breathtaking:

The big, big event towering on the other side of a great football New Years Day is the Gulf States Trade Show and Seminars beginning January 30, 2003 in Mobile, AL. This will be a great program. Scan through the topics and speakers and I think you will find that it will be difficult to decide which program to go to. You will probably need to bring all your employees and have each attend a different session and give a report back to the rest of the employees when they return home. Of course, the Trade Show gets better and better. We have used up all the space and nooks and crannies on the trade show floor and are now moving to the halls to accommodate the demand for those wanting to be a part of the Show. The merger of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama has been good for everyone. I can not imagine everyone not already having their calendars marked and reservations made but if you are procrastinating, don’t wait too long. You can register on line this year at or call Linda VanDyke at 334-821-5148 for more information. Auburn University will have their usual booth which will be in one of the nooks and crannies I mentioned above. Please come by to see us when you come.

Happy Holidays Again!


DISCLAIMER: Please remember that all information presented is a summary of research and not an endorsement of any product or a recommendation of chemicals. The official labels from the manufacturing companies offer the legal and proper use and handling information for all products.

The following articles are featured in this month's Something to Grow On:










Below is a schedule of events for the Educational Programs. The collective storehouse of knowledge by the session leaders will surely assist you in your business.

Thursday, January 30
General Session

8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Awesome & Irresistible Service
MARK MAYBERRY, The Mayberry Group
Just when you thought there was nothing new to say about Customer Service, along comes Mark Mayberry! Mark’s "Service with Shazam!" offers a fresh approach to creating satisfied customers. This unforgettable presentation will show you how to get your Team to take an entrepreneurial approach to winning and keeping customers. During Mark’s presentations you will discover how to find out what your green industry customers really want and how to set up a Customer Service program that’s really different from the competition.

9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
New Plants to Make You More Money
NORMAN WINTER, Mississippi State University
Not since the great plant exploration period of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s have so many new plants arrived in this country. Many of these plus a few old forgotten ones can add dollars to your sales.

11:00 a.m. – noon
Environmental Challenges: Surviving & Thriving in these Changing Times
ANDY HULL, EnviroNetwork Consulting, Inc.
An interactive discussion concerning regulatory challenges facing our industry will enlighten you on how environmental challenges can create new opportunities to increase revenue and exciting directives for your business.


1:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Building the Dream Workforce
Mark Mayberry
How to make good employees great, and great employees even better! Mark Mayberry will show you how to bring about this transformation and re-shape your green industry organization into a company of entrepreneurs. In this powerful presentation, based on his book, In the Company of Entrepreneurs, Mark will take you beyond empowerment to the prospect of an exciting new vision.

3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
(1) Impacts of Technology on the Structure of the Green Industry
(2) E-commerce Applications in the Green Industry
DR. CHARLES HALL, University of Tennessee
This two-part session will examine the structural changes evidenced in recent years due to technological advances. The first part emphasizes the use of technology in the production and marketing of nursery plants and the second part takes an in-depth look at how e-commerce can be applied to the green industry.

DR. KEN TILT, Moderator

1:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Dry Stack Stone Features
BUTCH BENNETT, Bennett Brothers Stone Co., Inc.
This presentation will show how to build planting areas and beams using field stone, boulders and mow strips. Mr. Bennett has been in the stone business for 35 years.

3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Brian Deem

DAN GILL, Moderator

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Plants and Other Exotics the Shadow Way
DON SHADOW, President, Shadow Nursery, Inc.

2:30 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Magnificent Magnolias: The Best of the Gresham Hybrids and Other Magnolias for the South
DR. GARY KNOX, University of Florida – North Florida Research and Education Center
Old fashioned "Japanese" magnolias have been updated thanks to breeders such as the late Todd Gresham, August Kehr and others. Prized for their spring flowers, new cultivars offer a range of plant sizes and habits, larger flowers, a range of flower colors and late blooming so as to avoid frosts. This presentation will introduce you to many of these new cultivars, with special emphasis on the Gresham Hybrids.

3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
My Favorite Native Plants
MARGIE JENKINS, Owner, Jenkins Farm & Nursery
This presentation will give an overview of some favorite native trees and shrubs adapted to the Gulf States.

4:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
New and Improved Landscape Plants for the Southeastern United States
JIM BERRY, General Manager, Plant Development Services, Inc.
PDSI has introduced Red Holly hybrids, Dixie Encore Azaleas®, Native plants, Raphiolepis, lirope cultivars and many other improved plants. This presentation will review the attributes of recent introductions and will preview future new introductions.

4:45 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
The Top Ten Ways to Realize Success in the Nursery Industry
JOHN M. DAVY, President, Panhandle Growers, Inc.
This presentation will cover 15 years of wisdom acquired in the tree business plus a slide presentation of plant material in production at Panhandle Growers, Inc.


Herbicide-treated mulches could provide inexpensive and improved weed control for nursery and landscape professionals. In studies conducted by Ohio State University, these products have controlled weeds for 300 days with single applications. “To get nearly a year of weed control with one application in a nursery container is just mind boggling,” said Hannah Mathers, Ohio State nursery/landscape specialist. The university studied fir and pine nuggets treated with 3 herbicides -- oryzalin, glumioxazin and acetochlor. This research could lead to commercial versions of the product. For more information send an email to
(from the NMPRO emailed dated December 3, 2002 by Todd Davis, Editor).


Best management practices (BMPs) as they relate to irrigation have been encouraged throughout the country. The industry has been addressing these problems for some time. Nationally, the Irrigation Association (IA) has been discussing BMPs for over 20 years and had not been able to reach a consensus until recently. Three years ago IA decided to publish a comprehensive BMP manual. To make a successful manual that people would use, a lot of people were consulted: water purveyors, general contractors, irrigation contractors, designers, system owners and maintenance crews. Their manual is organized into 5 steps: assuring the quality of the irrigation system; designing an efficient system; installation of the system; maintenance; and management. Most of the manual has been approved but some sections are still pending approval because of the difficulty of their technical nature.

Florida, in the midst of a three year long drought, and impressed by the IA document, began very serious work on irrigation issues. In 2000, St. Johns County passed a fertilizer ordinance that carries criminal penalties for certain fertilizer applications at specific times of the year. The industry was upset by this action and as a result brought all of their diverse groups together to develop a turfgrass and landscape BMPs manual for the state of Florida. The resulting manual would not necessarily pre-empt local regulation, but it would give people an industry standard. The manual and a plastic coated flip-card reference went to press at the end of the summer of 2002. The program is being promoted by extension agents who are offering training programs and by industry organizations, associations and corporations. People are being taught how to maintain environmental stewardship.

The Florida legislature voted to amend the state building code to address irrigation. The legislature came up with a cohesive state-wide code that did acknowlege regional differences but the code is basically the same throughout the state. Florida appears to be one of the few states that has an irrigation building code. The cooperation of industry and government should go a long way to encourage people to pay attention to their BMPs.

(from "A Water-Wise Approach" by Patricia Sporer, published in Ornamental Outlook, November 2002.)


Do you have problems with excessive iron, iron bacteria, alkalinity and need a little understanding and help, Dr. Ted Bilderback at NC State University offers good visual slide presentation on the subject at this web site. Technology is great!

The URL is


Looking for infomation on the costs of starting a Pot-in-Pot nursery? Dr. Charles Hall has compiled research on case studies of two operations that should help. One thing you learn quickly from Ag. Economists is that they are very detailed in their work. Everything has a cost in a business and should be included. These types of budgets are not easy reading for most of us but if you are going to expand or start a new nursery, they are great resources for getting a handle on the true costs or can help you develop a business plan for the bank. It is also a good model for you to look at. Compare their numbers and inputs and put in your own numbers to see what your true costs are at your nursery.

Take a look at this new publication: The Economics of Producing Nursery Crops Using the Pot-in-Pot Production System: Two Case Studies that has just become available on the web.


USDA released beneficial flies throughout the federal imported fire ant quarantine areas this month. South American phorid flies inject eggs into the ants, and the developing larvae kill the pests. “This is the only way we’re ever going to see a reduction in the number of fire ants in North America,” said Fred Santana, IPM coordinator for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Sarasota County Extension Service. For more information send an email to
(from the NMPRO emailed dated December 3, 2002 by Todd Davis, Editor).


Jackie Mullen
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

October was a relatively wet month for most of the state, and consequently, Phytophthora root rot and brown patch disease of turf grasses were especially common problems last month. In October, we received 105 plant samples.

The brown patch turf samples showed abundant development of the Rhizoctonia fungus on the foliage due to the moderately warm temperatures of October and the wet conditions. Small areas of foliage blight spread rapidly to involve large areas of lawn. See ANR-492 for disease control comments. Immunox may be more readily available at lawn/plant care centers than some of the other fungicide products labelled for control of brown patch on turf grass. Damaging levels of nematodes were present on a bermuda and a centipede sample. Nematode damage to homeowner turf is managed by cultural methods for stress control. See ANR-523 for more information.

Bipolaris and Exserohilum (Helminthosporium-type) fungal leaf spots, blight, and crown rots were noted on bermuda grass. Leaf spots are usually small, brown, and elongated, but lesions may coalesce and cause a serious blight. This disease is often seen in the spring and fall with moderate temperatures and available moisture. Increased disease susceptibility in bermuda may be caused by low potassium levels so a soil test for minerals is a good idea. See ANR-621 for more information.

Anthracnose leaf spots on trees at this time of year is a common occurrence. Other fungi commonly seen causing fall leaf spots are Cercospora, and Septoria. Older, mature leaves in the fall tend to show some increased susceptibility to leaf spot diseases. Generally these leaf spots are not a serious problem and the over-all health of the tree is not affected. All fallen leaves should be gathered and removed from the area this fall.

Botryosphaeria cankers are common occurrences on weakened trees and some shrubs. The sunken cankers generally are elongate and may show cracking around lesion edges. Control requires pruning out damage with cuts being made 4-5 inches beyond the edge of the canker margin. Shears should be dipped into alcohol or other disinfectant between cuts.

Phytophthora and Pythium will cause root decay of a wide range of plants when soil conditions are kept continually wet for a prolonged period of time. Of the two fungi, Phytophthora is considered to be the more damaging and aggressive pathogen. Pythium often develops only on previously weakened/damaged plants. Plants with root rot usually show lower limb dieback with yellowing and browning as initial symptoms. Gradually the browning of limbs will move upward through the tree or shrub. In some situations, upper canopy sections show damage also. Damaged plants should be removed. Water levels in the soil should be reduced. Drainage improvements may be needed. It is a good idea to remove soil attached to damaged roots since the fungal spores will develop in the soil closely associated with the infected roots. Plant replacement with a different plant or cultivar less susceptible to Phytophthora infection is a good practice. Protective fungicide drenches may be used with particular plants in some situations of nurseries/greenhouses or large landscape plantings. See the AL Pest Management Handbook.

John Olive in Mobile reported seeing black rot (Xanthomonas) on kale and cabbage. Also, he noted Rhizoctonia aerial or web blight on Satsuki azaleas and related azaleas and on crenata holly. The black rot begins as black v-shaped lesions at leaf edges. The bacteria gradually spread through veins to the lower stem where a black rot will develop. Aerial blight typically develops as a foliage blight of lower foliage. Mycelial webbing may be present when conditions are humid.

OCTOBER 2002 Plant Diseases Seen In
The Plant Diagnostic Lab at Auburn

BermudaBipolaris Leaf SpotMontgomery
BermudaBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia)Montgomery
BermudaExserohilum Crown RotMontgomery
BermudaExserohilum Leaf Spot & Crown RotMontgomery
BermudaRing Nematode (Criconemoides)Calhoun
BermudaTake-All Patch (Gaeumannomyces graminis graminis)Montgomery
BoxwoodMacrophoma BlightLawrence
BoxwoodPhytophthora Crown & Root DecayWilcox
BoxwoodVolutella BlightLawrence
CentipedeBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia)Baldwin, Elmore, Henry, Houston, Montgomery, Pike
CentipedeNematode Problem-Sheath & Ring (Hemicycliophora & Criconemoides)*
CentipedeTake-All Patch (Gaeumannomyces graminis graminis)Pike
CollardsCercospora Leaf SpotFranklin
CryptomeriaPhomopsis Tip BlightCullman
Fatsia JaponicaBotryosphaeria CankerMontgomery
Fatsia JaponicaPhytophthora Crown & Root Rot?
Fescue (Forage, Fungrus-Free)AnthracnoseMarion
HollyBotryosphaeria CankerTuscaloosa
Holly FernPhomopsis Canker*
Hydrangea, Oak LeafCercospora Leaf SpotCullman
JasminePhytophthora Root RotCovington
JuniperPhoma Needle BlightTuscaloosa
Leyland CypressBotryosphaeria CankerMontgomery
Maple, TridentAnthracnose (Colletotrichum)*
Oak, OvercupFusiforme Rust (Cronatium quercuum f. sp. fusiforme)*
Oak, WillowAnthracnose (Colletotrichum)*
PalmColletotrichum Leaf SpotChoctaw
PansyAnthracnose (Colletotrichum)*
PecanPowdery MildewPike
PecanPythium Crown Rot*
PecanSooty MoldPike
RyegrassBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia)Autauga
RyegrassGray Leaf Spot (Piricularia)Choctaw
SoybeanAnthracnose (Colletotrichum)Escambia
SoybeanCercospora Leaf SpotEscambia
SoybeanStem Canker (Diaporthe phaseolarum)Escambia
SpireaPhytophthora Root Decay*
St. AugustineBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia)Geneva, Montgomery
St. AugustineTake-All Patch (Gaeumannomyces graminis)Mobile
Tea OliveCercospora Leaf SpotWilcox
TomatoSeptoria Leaf SpotCullman
TurnipColletotrichum Leaf SpotWashington
VincaPhytophthora & Pythium Root RotMobile
WillowAnthracnose (Colletotrichum)Autauga
Wax Myrtle, SouthernBotryosphaeria CankerMontgomery
Wax Myrtle, SouthernPhytophthora Root RotMontgomery

J. Jacobi
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

October weather was unusually cloudy and rainy creating favorable conditions for several fungus diseases. The reported rainfall total was 5.46 inches at the Birmingham International Airport (2.23 inches above normal). Measurable rainfall occurred on 16 days during the month. Some of the more significant disease problems seen last month: Pythium blight on amaranth, Rhizoctonia stem rot on basil, Pythium and sting nematodes on bermudagrass, Cercospora leaf spot and Phytophthora stem and root rot on pansy, and Pythium Blight on ryegrass. The lab received 109 samples during the month of October.

Pythium damping-off of amaranth (Amuranthus spp.) grown for salad or microgreens was the most unusual problem seen last month. Vegetable amaranth is grown in short cropping cycles and the seedlings are sold as greens for salads and other uses. Pythium damping-off is one of the major disease problems associated with production.

The soilborne fungus Phytophthora nicotiana causes Phytophthora crown and root rot on pansy. Wet conditions during late September and October were very conducive to rapid spread of the disease. As crown and root rot develop, plants show symptoms of wilt and dieback. Stunting and yellowed foliage are additional symptoms of the disease. Remove and destroy infected plants. Practice good sanitation in the greenhouse. Fungicide drenches with etridiazole (Truban) etridiazole + thiophanate-methyl (Banrot), fosetyl-Al (Aliette), menfenoxam (Subdue), or propamacarb (Banol) may be applied in some situations. Refer to the label for specific instructions, restrictions and use. See extension publication ANR-1214, Diseases of Pansies and Their Control, for additional information.

Cercospora leaf spot is a very common leaf spot on pansy in Alabama. This disease is favored by wet conditions and warm temperatures and is most common in fall and spring. Spots are purple to dark charcoal gray and have a feathered margin. Lower leaves become infected first, turn yellow and fall from the plant. Remove severely diseased plants and clean up plant debris. Applying chlorothalonil (Daconil), mancozeb (Fore, Protect), azoxystrobin (Heritage) or other labeled fungicides can reduce disease development and spread. Additional information can also be found in ANR-1214.

Pythium blight was seen on bermudagrass in late October. Affected bermudagrass had a dark color and a greasy appearance. This is an unusual disease occurrence for bermudagrass. Weather conditions during this time period were 2-3 days of moist weather and with night time temperatures near 70 degrees F. Damage to ryegrass by Pythium blight was also seen at the same time. On other warm season grasses (St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass), brown patch continued to be a significant problem because of the very favorable weather for disease development.

OCTOBER 2002 Diseases Seen In
The Plant Diagnostic Lab in Birmingham

Amaranth (salad greens)Pythium Dampling-Off*
AzaleaLacebugsJefferson (2)
AzaleaTip MidgeJefferson
BasilRhizoctonia Stem Rot*
BentgrassPythium Root Rot* (2)
BermudaBlack Layer*
BermudaFall Armyworms Jefferson
BermudaHelminthosporium Leaf Spot* (3)
BermudaPythium Blight*
BermudaSting Nematodes (Belonolaimus sp.)*
BermudaWhite GrubsJefferson
Bird of ParadisePythium Root RotJefferson
Black-eyed SusanBacterial Leaf SpotJefferson
BoxwoodMacrophoma Leaf SpotJefferson, Tuscaloosa
CentipedeBrown PatchJefferson
CentipedeWhite GrubsJefferson (2)
Cherry, OrnamentalCercospora Leaf SpotJefferson (2)
Cypress, LeylandCercospora Needle BlightShelby
DahliaBotrytis BlightJefferson
English IvyAnthracnoseJefferson
English IvyPhytophthora Stem & Root RotChilton, Jefferson
Euonymus, JapaneseEuonymus ScaleJefferson
Hickory, PignutAmbrosis Beetle (secondary)Jefferson
Maple, JapanesePhyllosticta Leaf SpotJefferson
PansyCercospora Leaf Spot*
PansyPhytophthora Crown Rot*
Ryegrass, PerennialPythium BlightJefferson
St. AugustinegrassBrown PatchJefferson
SunflowerPowdery MildewJefferson
Turnip GreensCercospora Leaf SpotJefferson
ZoysiaDollar SpotShelby
ZoysiaFall ArmywormsJefferson
ZoysiaTake-All Root RotJefferson


January 7 - 9, 2003:
Kentucky Landscape Industries Winter Educational Conference and Trade Show.
The Kentucky International Convention Center, Louisville, KY
Contact Betsie Taylor, KNLA Exec. Dir., 350 Village Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601; phone 502-848-0055 or 800-735-9791; fax 502-848-0032; email;

January 15 - 17, 2003:
Mid-AM Trade Show.
Navy Pier, Chicago, IL. Contact: Rand Baldwin at 847-526-2010, Fax 847-526-3993, e-mail

January 18 - 20, 2003:
Tennessee Nursery and Landscape Association Trade Show and Conference.
Chattanooga Convention Center, Chattanooga, TN
Phone 931-473-3951; fax 931-473-5883; email;

January 20 - 22, 2003:
Central Environmental Nursery Trade Show "CENTS".
Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio
Contact Bill Stalter, ONLA at 800-825-5062; fax 800-860-1713; email;

January 30 - February 1, 2003:
2003 Gulf States Horticultural Expo.
Mobile Convention Center, Mobile, Alabama
For more information: URL - or call 334-502-7777 for more information.

January 30 - February 02, 2003:
ANLA Management Clinic.
Louisville, KY.
Contact ANLA at 202-789-2900; Fax, 202-789-1893

February 1 - 3, 2003:
Southern Region American Society for Horticultural Science Meeting.
Mobile, AL. Contact Paul Smeal, 1107 Kentwood Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24060-5656; phone 540-552-4085; fax 540-953-0805; email;

July 15 - 20, 2003:
ANLA Convention & Executive Learning Retreat.
Location TBA. Contact: ANLA, 202-789-2900; Fax, 202-789-1893.

July 30-August 2, 2003:
SNA 2003- Southern Nursery Association Researcher’s Conference and Trade Show.
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA.
Contact SNA at 770-953-3311; Fax 770-953-4411; SNA Infoline, 770-953-4636.

September 30 - October 4, 2003:
American Society for Horticultural Science Annual Meeting and 100th Anniversary.
Providence, RI.
Contact ASHS at 703-836-4606, Fax: 703-836-2024, E-mail:

October 3-4, 2003:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail:, or

October 5-8, 2003:
IPPS Southern Region NA.
San Antonio, TX.
Contact: Dr. David L. Morgan, 332 Warbler Drive, Bedford, TX 76021; phone 817-577-9272; e-mail,

October 22 - 25, 2003:
IPPS Eastern Region.
Portland, ME. Contact M. Bridgen, 26 Woodland Road, Storrs, CT 06268; phone 860-429-6818; email

July 29 - 31, 2004:
SNA 2004 - Southern Nursery Association Researcher’s Conference and Trade Show.
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA.
Contact: SNA 770-953-3311; Fax 770-953-4411; SNA Infoline, 770-953-4636

October 1-2, 2004:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail:, or

October 3-6, 2004:
IPPS Southern Region NA
Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.
Contact: Dr. David L. Morgan, 332 Warbler Drive, Bedford, TX 76021; phone 817-577-9272; e-mail,

Send horticultural questions and comments to

Send questions and comments to

Letters to Bernice Fischman - 101 Funchess Hall - Auburn University, AL 36849.