Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Farwest Trade Show Highlights: Day One: Thursday, August 21

If you're in Portland for the 2014 Farwest Trade Show, welcome! And likewise for those joining us only in spirit. From now until they roll up the carpets on Saturday evening, we'll be posting here regularly about show happenings and highlights. Here are some can't-miss experiences and opportunities Farwest has "on tap," in one case literally, for Thursday (and Thursday night):
  • Dr. Michael Dirr on Woody Plant Introductions — We have two morning-long seminar tracks focused on new plants — one on this year's selections themselves, and another on developing and marketing new plants. The former will be led off at 8 a.m. by none other than Michael Dirr, one of the world's foremost experts. He will discuss new woody plants that stand above all the rest, and which truly speak to growers and consumers. Just purchase your seminar pass and head over to room B110–112. Details here.
  • Keynote Speaker: John Stanley — If you have a ticket to Farwest, then you have a ticket to see garden center and retail consultant John Stanley talk about the future of sales and customer service. "Don't Serve Me ... Make My Day!" will discuss a model of success that is already being used in other segments of retail and can be transferred to horticulture. The key is making sure your team has the skills to grow sales. This session begins at 11 a.m. in Room C123–124. Details here.
  • The Idea Center: Chopped! Mission: Radical Container Garden — All new for this year's Farwest Trade Show, The Idea Center is a place to learn new ways to grow and succeed. Located at the end of Aisle 25000, it will offer something different at all hours of the expo. Chopped! Misssion: Radical Container Garden looks to be one highlight. Four of the industry's most talented individuals will be challenged to create a container combination using a selection of everyday plants. The audience will decide who wins and who is "chopped." This session will be at 2 p.m. Details here.
  • Young Nursery Professionals Meetup — This is an opportunity for up-and-coming nursery professionals (age 40 and younger, please) to network and socialize. Josh Robinson of Robinson Nursery and Crystal Cady of Sunshine Acres Farm & Garden will host; horticulture expert Sid Raisch will talk about the future direction of the industry. The gathering gets underway at 4:30 p.m. upstairs in the VIP Lounge on the second floor. Details here.
  • Pub Crawl — This Farwest tradition is now in its third year, and gets better every time. It's an opportunity to socialize with old and new friends, and enjoy some of the finest brews that Portland — the city affectionately known as "Beervana," and justifiably so, in our admittedly biased opinion — has on tap. This year's locations are Green Dragon Bistro & Brew Pub (directions) and, new this year, Base Camp Brewing Company (directions). Make your way to either location at around 6:30 p.m., or if you want to be escorted by our Beer Sherpas via streetcar ($1 fare), just meet up with us in Lobby C, beneath the dragon boat, at around 6:15, 6:30 or 7 p.m. Details here.
Stay tuned today, as we will be covering several of these events here on the blog. You can also check back to find out which plants from the New Varieties Showcase were favored by our judges, and which booths are taking home Ted Van Veen "Best in Show" honors (by category and overall)!

Farwest Tour: Creating Landscapes

Both of today's Farwest Trade Show tours sold out, and it's easy to see why. One of them toured three of the top growers in Oregon — Carlton Plants, Monrovia and Youngblood Nursery — and the other explored interesting landscape designs that utilize native plants while also pushing the envelope.

The landscapes on the second tour truly run the gamut. So far, participants have seen the Edith Green–Wendell Wyatt Federal Buliding in downtown Portland, the Von Schlegel residence in the West Hills neighborhood, and the Fitzgibbon Glass building, in the industrial district of Northwest Portland. The morning wrapped up with lunch at Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island. Still to come? The Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton.

The Wendell-Wyatt federal building and the Fitzgibbon building are both reused buildings. The federal building dates to the 1970s and was rebuilt inside and out, except for the underlying structure, from 2010–2013. The Fitzgibbon building, meanwhile, is a former glass factory that recently was converted into a series of creative suites. But both take advantage of creative plant selections to create a compelling landscape. The Von Schlegel house is about four years old and was built on a site where the former structure slid down the hill and had to be razed.

Having a hand in all of these designs was Sean Hogan, owner of Cistus Design Nursery.

We'll be back this afternoon with a report from Nike. In the meantime, you can check out some photos from the tour, which were posted to our Twitter account at @diggermag.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The 2014 Farwest Trade Show is almost here!

The nursery industry is coming to Portland this week to “Find It All" at the 2014 Farwest Trade Show, and there certainly will be a lot to see.

The show itself may not get underway until Thursday, but people started arriving in town on Sunday night and Monday morning, and for good reason. It's a chance to visit nurseries and take part in pre-expo events:
  • Tuesday morning kicked off the all-new Equipment Innovation Day. You can see new nursery production equipment side-by-side in a production environment at two nurseries (Woodburn Nursery & Azaleas, and Bountiful Farms & Nursery). Click here for schedule and registration info.
  • On Wednesday will be the Farwest Tours. The show is offering two tours. Tour #2, Growing Excellence, has already sold out, but we'll offer coverage right here. This tour will visit Youngblood Nursery Inc., Carlton Plants LLC and Monrovia. There are still a few spots open on Tour #1, Creating Landscapes. This tour will explore good design, visiting Cistus Nursery as well as Nike World Headquarters and a private garden.
On Thursday, the seminars begin at 8 a.m. and the expo floor opens for business at noon. This year's show has more than 50 new exhibitors, as well as numerous new features designed to help you stay on the cutting edge. Organizers report that presold tickets are up, indicating that show interest is high.

As the week goes on, will be a good place to catch updates. We will update regularly with Farwest-related content, so you can re-experience the highlights and catch up on what you missed. You can also follow @DiggerMag and @FarwestShow on Twitter, and also follow hashtag #FarwestShow on Twitter. Finally, of course, there's the new Farwest Trade Show app, available for iPhone and Android devices.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

State officials find no evidence linking dead bees to pesticides

A laboratory analysis of dead honeybee samples taken from hives in Clackamas County this summer showed no detection of pesticides, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Officials said that other factors are likely to be responsible for the death of thousands of bees from colonies owned by four local beekeepers.

In addition, Oregon State University examined bee samples from Clackamas County for pests and disease. The analysis found average levels of bee mites and nosema disease, but did not find any evidence that explains the deaths.

ODA’s Pesticides Program and its laboratory in Portland made the testing and analysis of the bees a high priority. ODA developed a screening process that focused on 39 pesticide active ingredients used in Oregon and known to be toxic to pollinators. Creating the customized list of potential suspect pesticides greatly reduced the testing time. Furthermore, the list can be used in future analysis of pollinator deaths. All of the Clackamas County samples tested, each containing hundreds of bees, were negative for any of the pesticides on the list.

ODA is assisting the state’s Joint Task Force on Pollinator Health and continues to work on pollinator issues at the national level. Jeff Stone represents the Oregon Association of Nurseries on this task force, which is expected to report back with recommendations in the fall. The next meetings are scheduled for Aug. 18 and Sept. 29 in Salem. For more information, contact staff liaison Beth Patrino at

Monday, July 28, 2014

Attend “Covering Your Assets” workshop on August 13

Photo by Jason Faucera, Clackamas County SWCD
Discover ways to save money, reduce pesticide use, and improve the results of pesticide applications at the “Covering Your Assets” workshop on Wednesday, August 13, from 3–9 p.m. at Hans Nelson Nursery (31020 SE Waybill Rd., Boring, Oregon).

This hands-on workshop will cover sprayer care, manual and electronic calibration, optimizing application for improved control and reduced spray drift, and techniques to evaluate applications. A night-time spray demonstration using fluorescent dye and black lights will demonstrate how to use Deposit Scan, DRIFTSIM, and water-sensitive paper for spray application evaluation.

Cost for the workshop is $20 and includes dinner.

Click here for more information and to register.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DOL inspectors rumored in the valley

According to an alert sent by the Farm Employer Education & Legal Defense Service (FEELDS), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is actively investigating farms in the Willamette Valley this week. Their focus thus far has been on blueberry farms, but that could change.

Concurrently, DOL has requested an appeal to a federal judge’s ruling that the agency has abused its “hot goods” provision of labor law by threatening to block product from getting to market of Oregon blueberry growers. At issue is the agency’s claim that some growers employ “ghost workers” who work off the books and are paid less than the minimum wage.

"It is a significant matter of concern when a federal agency inspects a farm operation with the presumption of guilt in mind," said OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone. "We will follow this matter closely, work with our agricultural partners to evaluate the situation and make our views known to the administration and congressional members."

The list of items that the DOL requests to see during an investigation includes the following:
  1. Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all business owners and company officers (e.g., President, Treasurer, Secretary, Board of Directors and other Corporate Officers) along with a company organizational chart if you have one; 
  2. Legal names of the company and all other names used by the company (DBA or trade names) 
  3. Federal Employer Identification Number 
  4. Your gross annual dollar volume of sales for the past three years 
  5. List of branch locations (name, address, phone number) 
  6. List of name, address, and telephone numbers of all growers, Farm Labor Contractors, Shipper/Packers, Brokers & Retailers that you do business with and or sell commodities to. 
  7. List of names and addresses of the firm’s major suppliers 
  8. 1099 Forms and contract documents with any independent contractors, day laborers, or subcontractors at this establishment. 
  9. A list of all employees (year round, Migrant, seasonal, and H-2A) employed in the last three years with their addresses, hourly rate or salary, descriptive job title, shift, and whether or not you consider that employee exempt from overtime. 
  10. All time cards, time sheets, computer tapes (in and out times, daily and weekly record of hours worked, piece rate production) for all of the aforementioned workers. 
  11. All payroll journal, payroll register, and wage/earning statements (indicating gross pay, net pay, hours worked, rate of pay, legal deductions and date of pay) for all of the aforementioned workers. 
  12. Birthdates for all employees under age 18 who worked during the previous 24 months. 
  13. List of all hours of work offered to the H-2A workers and corresponding U.S. workers. 
  14. Copy of all advertisements/job announcements made in (recruitment location) and in the U.S. for all of the aforementioned ag workers. 
  15. Copy of all communications made to (local State Workforce Agency) regarding H-2A workers and corresponding U.S. workers. 
  16. List identifying location where all of the aforementioned ag workers physically worked. 
  17. Copy of the job description or scope of work for each ag job title listed. 
  18. Copy of all contracts between employer and any of the aforementioned ag workers. 
  19. Copy of all contracts between employer/farm labor contractor and any grower. 
  20. Copy of all work schedules of the workers 
  21. Copy of all transportation schedules of the workers. 
  22. Copy of all invoices, bills, or receipts for transportation or subsistence related to all of the H-2A workers that were transported from their foreign country to the workstie or housing facility. 
  23. Copy of all housing permits and documents of water sample testing results prior to occupancy for all housing facilities. 
  24. Copy of all housing inspections performed for any housing facility where any of the aforementioned ag workers live. 
  25. Copy of all meal menus or documents that identify what the workers were fed each day. 
  26. Copy of the driver’s license of all van/bus drivers who transport workers. 
  27. Copy of the vehicle insurance coverage and vehicle registration for all vehicles used to transport workers. 
  28. Copy of Farm Labor Contractor certificates of registration (license) 
  29. Copy of Farm Labor Contractor employee certificates for (1) all supervisors and (2) all van/bus drivers who drive van/buses to transport workers. 
  30. Copy of the doctor certificates for all van/bus drivers who drive buses to transport workers. 
  31. Copy of vehicle inspection reports (WH 514) for all van/buses used to transport workers. 
  32. Invoices from your FLC, specific FLC and time frame deals in business with.
Legal representatives advise that farm operators do not provide customer and supplier names or numbers if requested by a DOL inspector. If you are approached, it is recommended that you call your legal counsel and/or OAN before handing over any documents to DOL.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yard, Garden & Patio Show to continue under new ownership

Oregon’s Yard, Garden & Patio Show will continue into 2015 and beyond, according to a joint announcement made July 17.

Metropolitan Productions Inc. has purchased the 26-year-old consumer event, designed expressly for gardeners and homeowners, from the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN). The next edition will be held Friday–Sunday, February 27–March 1, 2015, at the Oregon Convention Center in downtown Portland. The show is held every year on a weekend in late February and/or early March.

“We are both honored and excited to be the new owners of the Yard, Garden & Patio Show,” said Sean Guard, President and CEO of Metropolitan Productions. “We look forward to carrying on the rich tradition of the show, and also adding some exciting new elements over the next few years.”

Jeff Stone, executive director of the OAN, said that Metropolitan Productions turned out to be the perfect buyer. Unanimously approved by the OAN Board of Directors, the purchase agreement provides for the continued involvement of OAN-member garden retailers, landscapers and service providers in the event — including booth discounts for OAN members. Metropolitan will also support the nursery industry by funding annual scholarships for horticulture students through the Oregon Nurseries Foundation, an arm of OAN.

“Metropolitan Productions is well known, experienced, and respected in the events industry,” Stone said. “They own and operate the Portland Seafood & Wine Festival, and have a large portfolio of events clients, including Fred Meyer, Columbia Sportswear, Cash & Carry, LinkUs and the Harrington Family Foundation. The Yard, Garden & Patio Show is a perfect fit for their core competencies. We think the show will be in excellent hands.”

Stone noted that Metropolitan is familiar with the show, having worked on the marketing and promotion of the event in 2010.

Matt Gold, president of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, said he was pleased with the arrangement, which was unanimously approved by the OAN Board of Directors. “This allows the OAN to focus efforts on the Farwest Trade Show, our wholesale show supporting the $750 million Oregon nursery industry, while still providing a way for our retail and landscape members to reach out to the public,” he said. “It’s the classic win-win situation.”

The OAN will continue its other consumer outreach projects, including the Plant Something™ campaign, the Random Acts of Gardening e-newsletter, and the annual Retail Nurseries & Garden Centers Guide (a folding map and directory of OAN-member retailers, landscapers and service providers). All of these projects will continue their presence at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show — and both Stone and Guard pledged that the two organizations will continue working together for the benefit of gardening and the horticulture industry.

“We appreciate the trust that the OAN has put in Metropolitan Productions,” Guard said. “YGP has had 26 very successful years. We know what an outstanding event it is for the public and for the exhibitors. We are prepared to work with the OAN to make the transition seamless, so we can retain this quality event in the Portland market and continue its success for years to come.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Smart sprayer demo set for August 14

A team of researchers is developing a Smart Sprayer, which will be demonstrated at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 14 at Hans Nelson and Sons Nursery, 31020 S.E. Waybill Road, Boring, Oregon. The sprayer, which is still being tested, uses a laser to detect the height, width and volume of the plants in a row. With this information, it can adjust the application of chemical sprays, thereby saving on input costs. The team includes researchers from Oregon State University, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Ohio State University and the University of Tennessee. The demonstration is free and open to the public. For details, download the flyer (PDF).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

ODA issues emergency action on neonicotinoids

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has instituted an emergency action regarding the use of two neonicotinoid pesticides. The mandate is in response to a rash of bumble bee die-offs that have been reported around the state over the past several weeks. The emergency action specifically prohibits the use of dinotefuran and imidacloprid on linden and other Tilia species of trees — regardless of label instructions.

During its preliminary investigations into recent incidents in Eugene, Sandy and elsewhere, ODA has determined that inventoried products are still in wide use. The old packaging of these insecticides containing dinotefuran and imidacloprid are missing the bee advisory warning labels that were mandated this year.

Effective at the start of 2014, ODA imposed label language specifically prohibiting the use of products containing dinotefuran and imidacloprid for use on trees in the Tilia genus, which include linden and basswood trees. Additionally, effective Feb. 28, 2014, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated a revised label statement with a bee advisory box.

The emergency action stated that:
Some applicators that read old labels that are on products containing dinotefuran or imidacloprid are still applying such products to Tilia species, despite the substantial educational and outreach efforts of the Department. In June 2014, the Department received several reports of bee kills because of pesticide use on linden trees. The Department is currently conducting pesticide investigations, and documenting the active ingredients that are involved. The Department currently has two documented incidents of imidacloprid use related to bumble bee deaths. The first incident occurred when imidacloprid was foliarly applied to linden trees in bloom in Eugene, Oregon. The second incident occurred when imidacloprid was injected into linden trees (pre-bloom) in March and May in Beaverton, Oregon.

This temporary rule will protect pollinating insects while the department completes its evaluation and investigation of the incidents, and determines future regulatory action. It will also allow the department time to collaborate with Oregon State University bee experts, the Joint Interim Task Force on Pollinator Health (HB 4139), and federal partners including the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The emergency action will apply to all users, including professional applicators and homeowners. Failure to comply with the new rule could result in license suspension or revocation, as well as imposition of a civil penalty.

“Although we took significant steps last year to restrict the use of these pesticide products, we’ve seen more cases involving bumblebees attracted to blooming linden trees and pesticide applications,” ODA Director Katy Coba said. “In order to protect our pollinators, we feel it’s important to adopt additional restrictions.”

The temporary rule will be enforced for 180 days, thereby allowing ODA to complete its investigation of recent bee death incidents as well as determine any future regulatory actions. ODA is contacting all pesticide license holders in Oregon regarding the new rule and will continue to provide outreach and education on pollinator protection. Additional information can be found on the ODA website at

Friday, June 20, 2014

ODA suspends tree care company's license over bee deaths

The Oregon Department of Agriculture issued the following press release today, regarding the recent bee death incident in Eugene:
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has suspended the license of a commercial pesticide operator based in Eugene following an incident that has left an estimated 1,000 bees dead at a north Eugene apartment complex this week. The action taken against Glass Tree Care and Spray Service comes as ODA continues to investigate violation of the Oregon Pesticide Control Law. The company must comply with specific conditions before the license will be reinstated.

ODA’s investigation has found that an employee of the company applied a pesticide product containing the active ingredient imidacloprid on the grounds of the apartment complex earlier this week, including 17 linden trees– the same tree species involved in bee death incidents last year in Oregon. The trees in the Eugene incident were in full bloom and attracting pollinators. Most of the pollinators impacted by the pesticide application were bumblebees. However, some honeybees were also found dead and dying following the application.

Last year, based on the high profile incidents of bee deaths, ODA adopted a required label statement on pesticide products containing imidacloprid and dinontefuran prohibiting the application of these products on linden trees and other Tilia species.

For 2014, labels on these products distributed into Oregon must state the restriction. Products with the old label are still in channels of trade and may be used, but not when plants are in bloom. Applicators using products with the older label are urged to follow the restrictions on the newly revised products. The product used in this case had an older label, which alerts the user that the product is “highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or residues.”

Because of ODA’s extensive outreach and education regarding pollinator protection over the past year, the department believes that the pesticide applicator should have been aware of pollinator activity and should not have used the product in this case based on the label statement.

As a condition of license reinstatement, Glass Tree Care and Spray Service must have its applicator in this case retake and pass examinations required for a commercial pesticide applicator; the company must cooperate with ODA, to the department’s satisfaction, in preventing or mitigating further harm from incident; and the company must provide to ODA a written plan describing how it will set in place policies or protocols to prevent recurrences of incidents involving pesticide applications to plants in bloom.

ODA will continue its investigation and will pursue additional enforcement action.

Glass Tree Care and Spray Service has been cooperative throughout ODA’s investigation.

ODA, in cooperation with Oregon State University, is monitoring the apartment complex site and will take appropriate steps as needed to minimize further impacts on pollinators. ODA has also contacted all pesticide license holders in the state reminding them of restrictions in the use of the specific pesticide active ingredients, imidacloprid and dinotefuran. Additional information has also been placed on the ODA website regarding use of these products at