UMD Extension Specialist Stanton Gill teaches about using drones to scout for plant distress at July 8, 2021 Greenhouse Growers Field Day.

Image Credit: Neith Little, UMD Extension

July 29, 2021
By Neith Little

On July 8, 2021, greenhouse growers from across Maryland gathered to level up their professional skills with a research update and tour at Catoctin Mountain Growers, a large nursery production greenhouse in Western Maryland. UMD Extension’s Commercial Greenhouse Production program teamed up with the Maryland Nursery, Greenhouse, and Landscape Growers Association (MNLGA) to make the event a success.

Participants learned from UMD Extension specialists and faculty how to use cuttings to propagate seedlings, how to use temperature and light to control flowering times, what early signs of plant disease to watch out for, and how to use drones to scout for plant stress symptoms. Watch a ten-second clip of a small drone flown by KDrone Services in the greenhouse.

Do you want to level up your own greenhouse production skills?

UMD Extension’s Commercial Greenhouse Production Program is taught by UMD Extension specialists and faculty and offers a wealth of educational resources.

  • The IPM Alerts newsletter includes timely updates about pest and disease issues plus in-depth articles like “How to disinfect a greenhouse” and “Designing an efficient irrigation system for cut flowers.”
  • A pest predictive calendar for ornamental plants
  • And regular hands-on trainings, like the upcoming IPM scouting trainings on August 18 and September 22. UMD specialists Stanton Gill and Dave Clement are planning a conference on biological control for greenhouse and nursery growers and landscapers for Dec. 16, 2021 and a biocontrol conference for greenhouse growers specifically on June 30, 2022.

Do you have a nutrient management plan for your greenhouse?

To protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland farms that sell at least $2,500 worth of farm products annually are required by state law to follow a nutrient management plan that was written by a certified nutrient management planner.

Different nutrient management recommendations are used for outdoor growers* and greenhouse or Controlled Environment (CEA) growers. Greenhouse or CEA growers can either hire a consultant to write their nutrient management plan, or become trained to write their own plan.

  • How to hire a consultant: Look for a certified nutrient management consultant on the list kept by the Maryland Department of Agriculture on their nutrient management website. On the website, look on the right-hand side of the page, under the heading “Farmers” and the link titled “Directory of Nutrient Management Consultants for Hire.”
  • How to become certified to write your own plan: Fill out this form to let UMD specialists Dr. John Lea-Cox and Dr. Andrew Ristvey know you are interested. When enough people for a class sign up, they will contact you and schedule a training.

*Nutrient management information for outdoor, soil-based farmers is here: University of Maryland Agricultural Nutrient Management Program.

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