Ken's musings:

Two Thousand and Four and all is well except that the years are going by too fast. Happy New Year. We made it through the holidays without any disastrous evil fronts calling us out to muster our troops on Christmas Eve to save the farm. From most people I have talked with, business was OK to Good last year but I was given some “encouragement” not to recruit new nursery startups. Although we have done well, there was “too much product” on the market. The economy has signs of improving so maybe next year will be great.

I always return from my holiday break with an eye toward kicking off the new year at the GSHE Trade Show and Educational Seminars. I hope you have your programs and will be heading south on January 29-31. The educational programs will be great and the opportunities for contacts and networking at the Trade Show is something that is a requirement for your business health. Some highlights of the educational program are included below but you can go to to get the full program or call Linda VanDyke at 334-821-5148 to have a program mailed to you. The other option is to just show up.

The AU Horticulture Department has begun a tradition of holding a reception for friends and alumni from 4 to 6 PM on Friday, January 30, 2004. If you can not find your friends, classmates or “OLD” professors on the trade show floor, chances are they will be at this reception. Everyone is welcome. Please join us.

Dr. David Williams, Dr. Charles Gilliam and I attended a meeting of the new Greater Birmingham Association of Landscape Professionals (GBALP) recently. We welcome this new group to the state. It is a group that was formed to represent the concerns of the landscape designers, contractors and grounds maintenance professionals. They wanted to be a force in the Birmingham area and across the state to educate the people and raise the bar on the perception and reality of landscape work in the state. They also want to be recognized during drought times and other crisis events and not have the industry be ignored when decisions on water use restrictions or other legislative mandates are imposed. They will be working with the Department of Agriculture to update and strengthen the Alabama certification exams and with the ANA on developing and administering the new Certified Landscape Professional Exam. This new exam developed by ANA with the cooperation of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and our counterparts in Georgia (MALTA) will offer educational training and an exam that will certify an individual’s and company’s high level of expertise and professionalism in the industry. The certification will say that “our company operates with dedicated, highly trained professionals and can be trusted to perform the highest quality work.” We welcome this new group of professionals cooperating to make our Green Industry better in Alabama.

The International Plant Propagators have begun a new teaser program to show just a few of the papers that were presented this year at regional programs around the world. The proceedings I receive each year from this association are one of the greatest resources available to anyone involved in the production of nursery crops. Go to to see what information nurseries in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, and across the US have to offer to your business. These papers represent only a handful of the large book of information shared each year. Beyond this annual publication are the archives of over 50 years of this shared information and is a treasure to our industry and your nursery. Access to a world network of fellow nursery producers is an incredible resource.

On a closer to home source of great information, I am on the list of Mark Halcomb’s regular Nursery Notes updates by way of email from McMinnville, Tennessee. Mark is an area Extension Specialist for the Nursery Industry in Tennessee and has been dedicated to serving the Middle Tennessee nurseries for over 20 years. He has seen most things that can happen in the nursery several times over those years and does a great job of keeping notes and records. I call on Mark often to share his wealth of knowledge of field production at many of our educational programs. Technology has allowed him to more easily share his observations to the industry of what is happening in his region. Mark lives in the heart of the nurseries and daily drives through 20 or more nurseries on his way to the office and has breakfast with a bunch of growers on his way. I offer this to say his information is science-based but also comes from living, trudging and wallowing daily IN THE BUSINESS. Below is one of his recent Nursery Notes on the use of dormant oils. Extension is partly about gathering relevant information and sharing. Mark is one of my better sources. You may want to go direct to Mark and have him put you on his regular email list. Email him at and ask to be included on his Nursery Notes.

Hope to see you in Mobile at the end of the month.


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






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.


From NURSERY NOTES (January 2004) by Mark Halcomb

Did you experience mites, scale, pine bark adelgid, birch gall, or oak phylloxera last season?

Dormant oil will suffocate the white cottony pine bark adelgid (check the trunk and branches of white pine); spider mites, rust mites, and eriophyid mites on (hemlock, juniper, spruce, arborvitae, and occasionally burning bush); scale insects (Manhattan euonymus, burning bush, mulberry, ash); some types of overwintering eggs (the spiny witch hazel leaf gall aphid on birch and the white pine aphid); oak phylloxera (that causes oak leaves to wad up in July). Oak phylloxera is what I have been calling oak psyllid for the past 15 years. I apologize, but now, we both know.

Armored snow scale was found at the base of young ash trees in 2003 at several nurseries. It is snow white and very obvious. I have also found it on mulberry in the landscape. I understand it also gets on peach. It attacks many other species in other states.

Oil is effective on insects that can't crawl out of it. Absolute total coverage is essential for effective control. Insects and eggs not covered will not be killed. The oil must cover the insects or their eggs that are overwintering within the crevices of the bark, etc.

It is usually best sprayed Jan. - March. Some labels advise 1 or 2 applications, depending on the population. Always follow label directions.

Label directions usually suggest that the temperature should be between 40-85 degrees during the application and it should not freeze within 24-48 hours of the application. There must be adequate pressure to blow the oil through the plants, achieving total coverage. This is a very environmentally safe and very effective product. Insects do not develop a resistance to being suffocated. A light rain will not remove it.

Although dormant oils are relatively safe to people (these oils are essentially the same as baby oil or mineral oil sold in drug stores except for the addition of emulsifiers), be careful not to breathe the spray mist as serious pulmonary problems may result.

Insure that the plants have received sufficient cold temperatures and are completely dormant. Avoid spraying plants under water stress or with tender new growth.

If a sprayer has been idle for a few moments, be sure to spray into the tank for a minute to insure that the oil is thoroughly mixed. Otherwise, the emulsion in the hose may separate and the first plants sprayed may receive pure water or pure oil.

Now would be an excellent time to spray dormant oil on many ornamentals. It is safe and effective on labeled insects. I believe I would spray most everything, including the shade trees. It would be difficult to argue against it.


For simplicity sake we are just going to list the 6 sessions and headings of each program. Presenters come from many places and with many perspectives: universities, USDA, industry. If you need more information go to




Tennessee Valley residents can now find the best native plant species for landscaping by using TVA's new online guide. It is designed to help select regional native plants for specific situations, from water's edge to upland slope.

The Native Plant Selector features 148 plants and includes photographs and details about height, light requirements, bloom time and more for each species. It can be searched in three ways: those familiar with plants can browse a list of either scientific or common names; to find a particular group of plants a key word can be entered to generate a list; the detailed search feature allows people to search based on selected criteria that meet their needs and the needs of their property.

(from Mark Halcomb, UT Area Nursery Specialist. To reach the site go to or go to and follow the links).


Jackie Mullen
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

For most of November, temperatures remained seasonably warm with day temperatures ranging usually in the 60-80EF range and nights ranging in the upper 30Es to 60EF. It was not until Thanksgiving week that night temperatures dropped to freezing and below for most of northern and central areas of the state.

We received 53 plant samples during November. These samples were mostly landscape plants with a few vegetables, field crops, and greenhouse plant samples included. Diseases seen include Pythium root rot on bermuda; Phytophthora root rot on boxwood; possible Heterobasidion root rot of boxwood; brown patch on centipede and St. Augustine; anthracnose on impatiens; several diseases on pansy (including black root rot, Myrothecium crown rot, anthracnose, and Cercospora leaf spot); Alternaria and Phyllosticta leaf spots on poinsettia; and take-all patch on zoysia.

Heterobasidion annosum (formerly called Fomes annosum) can cause root rot and crown rot of a large number of woody plants. This fungus is especially prone to cause damage on conifers, but deciduous woody plants may also be infected. The decay caused is called a white rot since the fungus will produce enzymes that will degrade cellulose and lignin, leaving only a pulpy white-rotted tissue. It is especially important that trees with a white rot are removed because these damaged trees will easily fall over in a wind situation. Heterobasidion annosum is difficult to diagnose as a confirmed diagnosis unless the diagnostic fungal conks develop. White mycelial mats may develop as small white fungal patches under and sometimes on the bark surface areas where rot is present. These fungal patches indicate the presence of H. annosum or some other related fungi that may be fungal wood pathogens or secondary fungi.

Anthracnose (Colletotrichum) on impatiens develops as small white, mostly circular, small (about c inch or 5 mm diameter) leaf spots. Disease control usually involves removal of fallen leaves (if possible) and protective fungicide sprays (applied in nursery/greenhouse) application. See the AL Pest Management Handbook for specific fungicide recommendations.

Pansy diseases seen were Thielaviopsis black root rot, Myrothecium crown rot, anthracnose, and Cercospora leaf spot. The black root rot was most prevalent on small pansy plugs. Plants developed lower leaf yellowing and stunting. Roots were in varying stages of root decay with the black coloration being due to the presence of the black fungal spores. Sanitation and Banrot or Cleary’s drenches are recommended. Myrothecium crown decay was mostly present on 6 pack plants. These plants showed wilt with crowns showing a soft rot. Microscopy allowed for observation of the small black fruiting bodies of the fungus. Sanitation and Daconil sprays are recommended for disease control. Anthracnose typically appears as small (0.5 mm diam.), round, white leaf spots. Cercospora leaf spots are typically dark gray and feathery, roundish leaf spots. Sanitation and protective fungicide sprays are recommended for control. See the AL Pest Management Handbook for protective fungicide treatments of the leaf spot diseases.

Poinsettias were submitted with small, angular gray spots mostly on bracts. Alternaria and Phyllosticta were associated with these spots. Plants were thin with poor foliage development which we believe was a consequence of poor cultural practices involving pinching and other practices (R. Kessler).

NOVEMBER 2003 Plant Diseases Seen In The Auburn Plant Diagnostic Lab
ArborvitaePythium Root Rot *
BermudaPythium Root Rot Jefferson, Morgan
BoxwoodPhytophthora Root Rot Colbert, Talladega
BoxwoodPossible Heterobasidion annosum Root Rot Colbert
CentipedeBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia) Tuscaloosa
ImpatiensAnthracnose (Colletotrichum) *
PansyAnthracnose (Colletotrichum) *
PansyBlack Root Rot (Thielaviopsis) *
PansyCercospora Leaf Spot *
PansyMyrothecium Crown Rot *
PoinsettiaAlternaria Leaf Spot (Bracts) *
PoinsettiaPhyllosticta Leaf Spot (Bracts) *
St. AugustineBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia) Montgomery
ZoysiaTake-All (Gaeumannomyces) Shelby
*Counties are not reported for greenhouse and nursery samples.

J. Jacobi
Extension Plant Pathology Specialist

Wow, the weather was warm during November. In fact, it tied as the sixth-warmest November in Birmingham in 104 years. Numerous record highs were recorded around the state, especially during the first week of the month. Disease severity on ornamentals and turfgrass were generally light, because of the lack of rainfall during the month. However, some of the diseases seen included Rhizoctonia root rot on ajuga, Phomopsis dieback on azalea, leaf spot on camellia, Seiridium and Botryosphaeria canker on Leyland Cypress, and brown patch on St. Augustinegrass.

Symptoms of Rhizoctonia root rot of ajuga included brown, dry, decayed roots and wilting and death of foliage. The fungus Rhizoctonia, can also cause aerial or web blight of ajuga, especially during periods of high humidity in mid- to late summer. Symptoms of aerial blight include a rapid browning and collapse of leaves and stems. Under humid conditions, fungal threads or mycelial webbing may be seen on affected tissues. Prompt removal of dead or damaged plants and the use of selected fungicides (Cleary’s 3336, Chipco 26019, and Terraclor) can help prevent disease. Select healthy, high quality plants to help prevent introducing this disease into the landscape.

The red-shouldered bug (Jadera haematolom) feeds on the leaves, stems and developing seeds of the Golden Rain Tree. Although it does not generally cause any serious damage to host trees, the main problem associated with these insects is the general nuisance they create after finding their way into homes during the fall. The attached web site provides more information on red-shouldered bugs and similar looking boxelder bug

Camellia leaf spot, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum sp., is relatively uncommon in the landscape. Symptoms are circular to irregular gray-brown spots on leaves. Control measures include removal of affected leaves and application of protectant fungicides, including Cleary’s 3336.

MONTH 2003 Plant Diseases Seen In The Birmingham Plant Diagnostic Lab
Ajuga Rhizoctonia Crown and Root Rot Jefferson
Anise, Japanese Phytophthora Root Rot Jefferson
Azalea Phomopsis Dieback Jefferson(2)
Bermudagrass Bipolaris Leaf Spot/Algae Shelby
Boxwood, CommonLeaf Miners Jefferson(2)
Boxwood, Common Macrophoma Leaf Spot Jefferson
Boxwood, Common Phytophthora Root Rot Jefferson
Boxwood, Common Pythium Root Rot Jefferson
Boxwood, LittleleafLeaf Miner Jefferson
Camellia, SasanquaLeaf Spot (Colletotrichum) Jefferson
Cypress, LeylandBotryosphaeria Canker Jefferson
Cypress, Leyland Cercosporidium Needle Blight Jefferson
Cypress, Leyland Seiridium Canker Jefferson
Golden Rain TreeRed-shouldered Bug Jefferson
HibiscusAphids Jefferson
St. AugustinegrassBrown Patch (Rhizoctonia) Jefferson
*Counties are not reported for greenhouse and nursery samples.

Disease Possibilities for December December is usually our month of least plant samples and most paper work catch-up as well as lab inventories and re-organization. With our recent move to the ALFA Building, we will also be continuing to organize ourselves in our new surroundings. During the next few months we will be working on learning techniques of gas chromatography for bacterial fatty acid analysis and PCR techniques for identification of select pathogens difficult to identify by other methods.

Our usual December diseases include black rot (Xanthomonas campestris) and Cercospora or Cercosporella leaf spots on crucifers in the southern sections of the state. Also, Drechslera and/or Bipolaris leaf spots are seen on small grains and forages including oats, wheat, fescue, rye and also ryegrass. Of course, greenhouse plant diseases develop every month of the year. Pansy diseases are also commonly seen, especially anthracnose and Phytophthora crown and root rot.


January 29 - 31, 2004:
Gulf States Horticultural Expo
Mobile Convention Center, Mobile, AL
Educational program: January 29; Trade Show: January 30 - 31. For more information go to; fax 334-502-7711; phone 334-502-7777.

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

August 26-28, 2004:
The Farwest Show. Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401; 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503-682-5099; e-mail,;

October 1-2, 2004:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
Contact Ann Halcomb, MTNA Exec. Secr., P.O. Box 822, McMinnville, TN 37111-0822; 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,

August 25-27, 2005:
The Farwest Show.
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401; 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503-682-5099; e-mail,

September TBA, 2005:
The Southern Plant Conference.
Louisville, Kentucky.
Contact: Matt Gardiner, KY Coordinator, 502-245-0238: e-mail,; or Betsie Taylor, KNLA Exec. Dir., 350 Village Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601; 502-848-0055 or 800-735-9791, Fax 502-848-0032 e-mail
or Danny Summers at SNA, 770-953-3311; Fax 770-953-4411; SNA Infoline, 770-953-4636; e-mail,;

September 30 - October 1, 2005:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
For more information contact Ann Halcomb by: phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail:, or

August 24-26, 2006:
The Farwest Show.
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401; 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503-682-5099; e-mail,

October 6-7, 2006:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
For more information contact Ann Halcomb by: phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail:, or

August 23-25, 2007:
The Farwest Show.
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center.
Contact Aimee Schendel, Oregon Association of Nurserymen, 29751 SW Town Center Loop West, Wilsonville, OR 97070; 800-342-6401, 503-682-5089 x 2006; Fax, 503.682.5099; e-mail,

October 5-6, 2007:
Middle Tennessee Nursery Association Horticultural Trade Show.
McMinnville Civic Center, McMinnville, TN
For more information contact Ann Halcomb by: phone: 931-668-7322; fax: 931-668-9601; e-mail:, or

Send horticultural questions and comments to

Send questions and comments to

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