There are many programs at Oregon State University (OSU) and the USDA-ARS- Horticulture Crops Research Laboratory that focus on nursery, greenhouse, landscape and related crops. Here are some of the people and their programs that impact the ornamental industry of Oregon.
Neil Bell evaluates landscape plants for drought tolerance and cold hardiness in western Oregon. To do this, he works with Heather Stoven and Lloyd Nackley under the name Northwest Plant Evaluations. Their long-term goal is to identify a palette of shrubs suitable for use in low-input, unirrigated landscapes in the region. Past evaluations include Ceanothus, Cistus, Halimium and Grevillea. They are currently wrapping up a seven-year evaluation of 75 selections of Arctostaphylos. An evaluation of broadleaved evergreen groundcovers will be planted in fall 2019.
Ryan Contreras is an associate professor of ornamental plant breeding in the OSU Department of Horticulture, where he teaches spring and fall woody landscape plant identification, plant growth and development, and plant propagation courses. He also directs the Ornamental Plant Breeding Program, which focuses on developing new cultivars of woody shrubs and trees with improved traits such as disease resistance, habit, fragrance, reduced fertility, and much more.
In attempting to support the nursery industry, he has developed a diverse program that seeks to improve 25 genera — a number that continues to grow. Recent successes include the release of ‘OSUCOT1’ Emerald Sprite™ and ‘OSUCOT2’ Emerald Beauty™ cotoneasters. Regardless of the taxon, Ryan’s goal is for the breeding to directly support and enhance the success of growers.
Alec Kowalewski assists with the primary goal of the OSU Turfgrass Extension and Research Program, which is funded by the Giustina Turf Endowment. It aims to improve the environmental and economic sustainability of turfgrass management. Topics of interest related to this include the use of sustainable turfgrass varieties and cultivars, improving fertility and irrigation efficiency, and the use of pesticide alternatives. The program is also heavily involved in the development and implementation of integrated pest management programs designed to reduce pesticide use.
Chal Landgren is a Christmas tree specialist and professor who is focused on Christmas tree production. That effort includes a variety of educational options, research trials and demonstrations. Current research projects include drought mitigations trials, genetic improvement and testing of noble fir, Douglas-fir and Nordmann/Turkish fir. He is currently working on grafting new seed orchards for the species noted above plus a new one: Trojan fir.
Gail A. Langellotto heads the Garden Ecology Lab, where participants study plants, insects, animals, people, decisions and management practices that either improve or degrade a garden’s ability to promote environmental and human health. An underlying premise of this work is that gardens are important and understudied systems that are key to building more sustainable communities. Currently, the lab has active research projects on garden pollinators and plants, and recently wrapped up a study on soils in residential vegetable gardens.
Rory McDonnell is an assistant professor and mollusk expert in the Department of Crop and Soil Science. His program is focused on two things. The first is understanding the ecology of invasive slugs and snails in agriculture, horticulture, urban areas, the natural environment and at the interface of these systems. The second is developing and implementing novel strategies for the management of these pests. His program is currently investigating the potential for using plant extracts as novel biorational molluscicides, assessing the potential for using natural enemies as biological control agents, and identifying novel attractants for use in both trapping, and attract-and-kill strategies.
Andony Melathopoulos is an assistant professor in pollinator health extension in the Department of Horticulture. OSU’s work around pollinator health comes from mandates passed by the Oregon Legislature after the bumblebee kills associated with insecticide treatments of linden shade trees. He also sits on the steering committee of the Oregon Bee Project, which coordinates pollinator health work across state agencies.
Marcelo Moretti is an assistant professor in weed science in the Department of Horticulture. Serving as statewide weed science specialist for perennial horticultural crops in Oregon, Marcelo interacts with multiple agents in the agriculture industry. Moretti’s research program is focused on applied research evaluating practical and economic solution for weed management. The weed science program is involved with the IR-4 Environmental Horticulture program.
Lloyd Nackley is an assistant professor of nursery and greenhouse plant production, and also serves as the nursery crops research leader at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC). He is a plant ecologist who collaborates widely with other researchers within Oregon and across the country to bring innovative solutions to Oregon plant production systems. His research themes focus on plant nutrient and water relations. He is a co-leader of the Intelligent Spray Research program and a program leader for the new OSU hemp research initiative. He greatly values the mentorship from the Oregon nursery industry and enjoys visiting nurseries and greenhouses and chatting about production. You can find his recent Digger articles on herbicide drift, herbicide resistance, drones in nursery, and the value of ecolabeling online.
Sherri Ann Noxel is the director of The Austin Family Business Program (AFBP) which was established in 1985 at the OSU College of Business. The program designs and delivers education to multigenerational family-owned enterprises, professional advisers and students. As a leading provider of opportunities for families to convene and discover new stewardship resources, AFBP increases success in transitioning the business to incoming generations through events, workshops, podcasts and classes that emphasize family unity, generational leadership development and enterprise growth.
Jennifer Parke is a professor (senior research) in plant pathology and soil biology at Oregon State University. Her nursery research efforts focus on Phytophthora diseases and their management, and soil solarization as a strategy for reducing weeds and soilborne pathogens in nurseries.
Jay W. Pscheidt leads a statewide extension program related to the diagnosis and management of diseases of all fruit, nut, and ornamental/nursery crops. Programs that directly relate to the nursery industry include co-editor of The Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Management Handbook and coordinator of the Growing Knowledge series for Digger. Other duties include teaching the summer field plant problem diagnosis class and Master Gardener classes. Active programs include testing the efficacy of many chemical compounds, biologicals and techniques (including smart sprayers) for control of various tree fruit, nut and ornamental diseases important to Oregon’s agricultural industries.
Melodie Putnam is the director of the OSU Plant Clinic, which provides education and outreach regarding plant problems and remedies through diagnostic services. The clinic identifies a diversity of fungi, bacteria, viruses, phytoplasmas, and other organisms that cause plant diseases. A large proportion of samples are from the ornamentals and nursery industry, although they have diagnosed problems on over 500 taxa of plants, from turfgrass to medicinal plants. They also identify arthropods (insects, mites, spiders, and related creatures) associated with plants. Clients submitting material for disease diagnosis receive a formal reply which contains at least one image of the material submitted, their identification of the cause of the problem, and information on the disease cycle and management options, including chemical, non-chemical, and biological control measures. The clinic also conducts research into the transmission and management of crown gall (caused by Agrobacterium) and leafy gall (caused by Rhodococcus) diseases.
Robin Rosetta works with nursery integrated pest management (IPM) as an OSU extension regional horticulturist based at NWREC. She is the editor of the Pacific Northwest Nursery IPM website and has been the lead organizer for the OktoberPest weekly pest management workshops held each October at NWREC. Rosetta, along with Jay Pscheidt and Lloyd Nackley, share leadership of the Intelligent Spray Systems program at OSU. She plans to retire at the end of 2019 after 25 years with OSU to have more time with family, friends and bugs.
Luisa Santamaria is an extension plant pathologist located at NWREC. Her extension and outreach program supports the nursery and greenhouse industry in Oregon. Her applied research focuses on the management of plant diseases in ornamental and nursery crops, especially those caused by soilborne pathogens. Luisa has implemented a bilingual education program that supports the nursery industry and other agriculture commodities to promote the production of healthy plants and good agricultural practices.
David Shaw is the director of the Swiss Needle Cast Cooperative, College of Forestry, a forest health specialist with Forestry and Natural Resources Extension, and is a professor in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management. He is an applied biologist with a background in forest pathology, forest entomology, and forest ecology who primarily serves tree growers, woodland owners, and forest managers in Oregon. However, his interest in pathogens and insects often overlaps with nursery and Christmas tree issues, and therefore he remains connected to specialists working in the field.
Jana Lee works with the foliar entomology program, which has a goal to develop sustainable controls for nursery pests, including root weevils, aphids, lygus, lace bugs, and soon, thrips. One of her challenges is to incorporate biological control in outdoor nursery systems. She is exploring how augmentative releases, attractive semiochemicals, and floral insectary plants can help. The program also evaluates cultivars for pest susceptibility, and use of pressurized water sprays for IPM.
Nik Grunwald works on understanding the genetics, evolution and epidemiology of Phytophthora pathogens, with a special emphasis on the sudden oak death pathogen P. ramorum. In the lab, he develops tools for monitoring migration, detection and understanding the genetic adaptation in plant pathogens.
Carolyn Scagel works to improve knowledge of factors regulating product qualities of nursery and other specialty crops, and to develop cultural practices and strategies that enhance crop productivity and quality through more efficient management of resources. Her research focuses on how the root environment influences crop productivity and quality. Research projects include (1) plant nutrition (timing and methods of fertilizer application, mycorrhizal fungi); (2) plant nutrition effects on plant water use (irrigation management) and cold tolerance; and (3) the role of the root environment (nutrient, water, temperature) on plant susceptibility to diseases caused by oomycete fungi.
Jerry Weiland focuses on pathogens of trees, shrubs, and vines for the nursery and small fruit industries. Research in the Weiland lab focuses on identifying the pathogens causing disease and then determining how those pathogens and the environment affect disease development and disease control. Research results are used to better understand why disease control measures sometimes fail, and to then refine those measures to improve disease control and overall plant health. Current research projects include disease control of Phytophthora root rot and an Oregon nursery survey for boxwood blight.