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A Promising Future for the Horticulture Profession

Presidential Address of the ASHS Southern Region 62nd Annual Meeting, 2002

M.P. Garber

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M.P. Garber

Marketing techniques were valuable in the development of an extension and research support program for the diverse Georgia nursery industry. The support program was developed in three stages: 1) needs assessment and development of industry alliances, 2) initiation of a research program based on priority needs, and 3) technology transfer. The needs assessment was facilitated by the development of a distribution channel map for the Georgia landscape/nursery industry. The industry alliances developed early in the project facilitated conduct of the research program and technology transfer. The research component was identified from an informal needs assessment and qualitative information on industry relations inferred from the distribution channel map. The research results support the contention that landscape architects have a significant influence on demand for nursery crops and that nursery operators should treat this group as important customers. The focus for technology transfer is improved marketing procedures and more efficient working relationships between nursery operators and landscape architects. This includes development of new alliances at the industry/association level, improved marketing practices for nursery operators, and positioning extension publications to benefit multiple industry segments.

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M.P. Garber and K. Bondari

A survey of landscape architects in Georgia was conducted to identify opportunities for nurseries to meet the needs of landscape architects and to improve the quality of installed landscapes. The primary opportunities identified for improvement for growers are to provide regular, frequent plant availability (32% of respondents); develop new plant varieties for specific needs (21%); supply plants that meet specified sizes (20%); recommend plant varieties for specific conditions (12%); provide picture of plants (9%); and make presentations to landscape architects (5%). Additional insight into how growers can help landscape architects achieve a higher quality installed landscape was gained from the question, `What is the most common complaint you experience regarding plant material installed?” Landscape architects indicated that plants below specified size (44%) and plants below specified quality (24%) were the two most common complaints.

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M.P. Garber and K. Bondari

Results of a national survey indicated that the top four sources of information used by garden writers for new or appropriate plants were nursery catalogs, botanical and public gardens, seed company catalogs, and gardening magazines. More than 50% of the participating garden writers reportedly used these four sources a lot. The most frequently used books and magazines were Horticulture Magazine (34.6%), Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (24.1%), and Fine Gardening (23.7%). About 29% of the garden writers used the World Wide Web to source information and the two most widely used type of sites were universities and botanical gardens and arboreta. A high percentage of garden writers desire greater or more frequent communications with botanical gardens and arboreta (90.4%), university personnel (87.4%), and plant producers (86.3%).

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E. Day and M.P. Garber

As the ornamental nursery industry moves from being production-oriented to being market-driven, growers must rethink the way they do business. No longer can producers target only purchasers of plant materials; now they must also direct marketing activities to those who influence the purchase of plants and choice of producers. Because landscape architects play an influential role in plant specification and selection of production nurseries, growers should consider ways in which effective marketing communications can be developed to influence these influencers. A marketing perspective on the decisionmaking process and the determination of the role of the individual in the decision process is used to develop recommendations on ways for growers to communicate with landscape architects. The implications of these findings for university extension programming also are discussed.

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M.P. Garber, J. M. Ruter, J.T. Midcap, and K. Bondari

A 2001 survey of 102 nurseries that were members of the Georgia Green Industry Association was conducted to assess irrigation practices of container ornamental nurseries. Mean nursery size was 64 acres (26 ha) and mean annual revenue was about $3 million. About 50% of the irrigation water was from wells and the other 50% came from surface sources, such as collection basins. Irrigation in smaller containers, including #1, #3, and #5, was applied primarily by overhead methods, while larger containers (#7, #15, #25) made extensive use of direct application methods, such as drip or spray stakes. Frequency of irrigation in the summer growing months was about three times that of the winter season. Georgia nurseries use irrigation practices suggested in Southern Nursery Association best management practices, including collection of runoff water (48%), cyclic irrigation (44%), watering in the morning (92%), and grass strips between the production beds and drainage areas (60%).

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Joyce G. Latimer, Reuben B. Beverly, Carol D. Robacker, Orville M. Lindstrom, S. Kristine Braman, Ronald D. Oetting, Denise L. Olson, Paul A. Thomas, Jerry T. Walker, Beverly Sparks, John M. Ruter, Wojciech Florkowski, Melvin P. Garber, and William G. Hudson

Optimizing growing conditions and, thereby, plant growth reduces the susceptibility of plants to many disease and insect pest problems. Educating lawn or landscape management professionals and homeowners about plant health management reduces the need for chemical intervention. Pesticides combined with N and P fertilizers contribute to water pollution problems in urban areas; thus, it is important to manage the amount, timing, and placement of chemicals and fertilizers. To educate consumers applying pesticides and fertilizers in residential gardens, we must educate the sales representatives and others who interact most closely with consumers. Evidence suggests that knowledge about the effects of chemicals is limited and that warning labels are not read or are ignored. Integrated pest management (IPM) offers alternatives to conventional chemical treatments, but such methods are not used commonly because of their relatively high cost and their uncertain impact on pests. Pest detection methods and using pest-resistant plants in landscapes are simple and, in many cases, readily available approaches to reducing the dependence on chemical use. Research on effective, low-cost IPM methods is essential if chemical use in landscape management is to decrease. Current impediments to reducing the pollution potential of chemicals used in the landscape include the limited number of easily implemented, reliable, and cost-effective alternative pest control methods; underfunding of research on development of alternative pest control measures; limited knowledge of commercial operators, chemical and nursery sales representatives, landscape architects, and the general public concerning available alternatives; reluctance of the nursery industry to produce, and of the landscape architects to specify the use of, pest-resistant plant materials; lack of economic or regulatory incentive for professionals to implement alternatives; inadequate funding for education on the benefits of decreased chemical use; and the necessity of changing consumer definition of unacceptable plant damage. We need to teach homeowners and professionals how to manage irrigation to optimize plant growth; use sound IPM practices for reducing disease, weed, and insect problems; and minimize pollution hazards from fertilizers and pesticides.

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Joyce G. Latimer, Reuben B. Beverly, Carol D. Robacker, Orville M. Lindstrom, Ronald D. Oetting, Denise L. Olson, S. Kristine Braman, Paul A. Thomas, John R. Allison, Wojciech Florkowski, John M. Ruter, Jerry T. Walker, Melvin P. Garber, and William G. Hudson

Pesticides have been the primary method of pest control for years, and growers depend on them to control insect and disease-causing pests effectively and economically. However, opportunities for reducing the potential pollution arising from the use of pesticides and fertilizers in environmental horticulture are excellent. Greenhouse, nursery, and sod producers are using many of the scouting and cultural practices recommended for reducing the outbreak potential and severity of disease and insect problems. Growers are receptive to alternatives to conventional pesticides, and many already use biorational insecticides. Future research should focus on increasing the effectiveness and availability of these alternatives. Optimizing growing conditions, and thereby plant health, reduces the susceptibility of plants to many disease and insect pest problems. Impediments to reducing the use of conventional pesticides and fertilizers in the environmental horticulture industry include 1) lack of easily implemented, reliable, and cost-effective alternative pest control methods; 2) inadequate funding for research to develop alternatives; 3) lack of sufficient educational or resource information for users on the availability of alternatives; 4) insufficient funding for educating users on implementing alternatives; 5) lack of economic or regulatory incentive for growers to implement alternatives; and 6) limited consumer acceptance of aesthetic damage to plants. Research and broadly defined educational efforts will help alleviate these impediments to reducing potential pollution by the environmental horticulture industry.