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May 2015 Newsletter


Hort Americas Corporate Newsletter  |  May 2015


Researchers at Michigan State University used LED lights to produce compact flower and tomato seedling plugs.

Could LEDs replace plant growth retardants?

Growers and researchers are studying the effects that specific light wavelengths can have on ornamental and edible crops. Research studies are focusing on the effect light wavelengths can have on a variety of plant processes including growth, flowering, fruiting and postharvest quality. Michigan State University horticulture professor Erik Runkle and former graduate student, now floriculture/nursery production extension educator Heidi Wollaeger studied the impact the ratio of red to blue light can have on the production of annual bedding plant seedlings. They looked at the effects of red and blue light on impatiens, petunia, salvia and tomato plugs.
Read More

Growing mixes for orchids, other potted plants

Hort Americas is offering a growing mix for finished orchid plant production. The mix consists of pine bark, Chilean sphagnum peat moss and lime. Most commonly used for phalaenopsis orchids, the mix has a pH of 6.0 and electrical conductivity (EC) less than 1.0 mS/cm. The mix is available in a 1.5 cubic foot trial-size bag and 55-cubic-foot bulk bags. Hort Americas is also working with Slingerland Potgrond, a premium Dutch growing media producer, to offer a variety of potting mixes, including young orchid plants, cymbidiums, anthuriums and bromeliads. Contact Hort Americas for more information.

USDA offering financial assistance with organic certification costs

In last month’s Hort Americas’ e-newsletter we reported on the number of organic operations in the United States and worldwide as reported by the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program. This month the Agricultural Marketing Service announced that nearly $12 million in organic certification assistance is available to make organic certification more affordable for organic producers and handlers across the country. This cost share assistance is being made available through state departments of agriculture.

“The organic industry saw record growth in 2014, accounting for over $39 billion in retail sales in the United States,” said USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The organic certification cost share programs help more organic businesses succeed and take advantage of economic opportunities in this growing market.”


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April 2015 Newsletter


Hort Americas Corporate Newsletter  |  April 2015



High tunnels can be a part of a production system that allows growers to produce berries year-round while improving fruit yields and quality.

High tunnels enable growers to increase production of high-value berries

High tunnels have different uses in different places, said Marvin Pritts, professor and chair of the Horticulture Section of Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science in Ithaca, N.Y.
“In California, many growers use the tunnels for rain exclusion,” Pritts said. “In other places, tunnels are used to help cut down on the wind and to regulate temperatures. In the Northeast U.S. the tunnels work in multiple levels. They offer protection from rain. They also offer some temperature and wind control. Their only limitation in the Northeast is the length of the seasons.”
Pritts said growers in the Northeast have been using high tunnels for about 15 years.
“We have plenty of water, good soils and the population,” he said. “It has been exciting for growers to see the response of the plants grown in the high tunnels. Growers have been able to extend production by about a month on either side of the growing season so that it is earlier or later.”
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Drip Tape Irrigation Kit

Hort Americas is offering a drip tape irrigation kit that contains all the components necessary to provide a complete watering solution for commercial or home gardening applications. Its simple design allows the irrigation system to be installed quickly enabling parts to be easily added or replaced.

The kit consists of commercial grade components that provide dependable, trouble-free uniform watering. The system has been carefully designed to ensure minimal set-up time and ease of use. Each component has been selected by the Hort Americas’ staff to provide consistent and dependable results. The kit comes with detailed installation instructions.

Organic production continues to increase in U.S. and worldwide

USDA has announced that the organic industry continues to expand both domestically and globally. There are 19,474 certified organic operations in the United States and a total of 27,814 certified organic operations worldwide.

According to data released by the Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program, the number of domestic certified organic operations increased by more than 5 percent over the last year. Since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent. The certified operations list is available at

USDA is developing the Organic Integrity Database, a certified organic operations database that will provide accurate information about all certified operations that is updated on a regular basis. The database will allow anyone to confirm organic certification status using an online tool, support market research and supply chain connections, allow international verification of operator status to streamline import and export certificates, and establish technology connections with certifiers to provide more accurate and timely data. The database’s initial launch is planned for September 2015.


Posted on

March 2015 Newsletter


Hort Americas Corporate Newsletter  |  March 2015


The use of LEDs to provide specific light wavelengths could allow growers to increase nutritional values of edible crops, enhance the intensity of foliage and flower color and improve the postharvest longevity of ornamental and edible crops.

LEDs have the Potential to Change
how Crops are Grown

Improvement in the light intensity delivered by light emitting diodes (LEDs) is helping to expand their use for the production of both edible and ornamental crops. Research with LEDs has been going on for about 30 years. Only within the last 10 years have increases in the light intensities of LEDs allowed researchers to study the direct effects of narrow wave bands of light on plant physiology.
“LEDs are now available to deliver all blue, all red, all green, all yellow light or mixtures,” said University of Tennessee plant sciences professor Dean Kopsell. “White LEDs are almost a broad spectrum light source. White LEDs are actually mostly blue light with a little bit of red, yellow and green light with a white phosphor over them.”
Kopsell and his colleagues at the University of Tennessee are studying the impact individual types of light can have on the nutritional qualities of edible crops. Their work is focusing on crops that can be produced relatively quickly in 25-35 days, including microgreens and baby greens. They have also begun looking at some herbal crops including basil, tarragon and chives.
“Some of the unique things we are finding are when we change the light quality environment, going away from broad band light sources like fluorescent, incandescent and HIDs, and exposing plants to narrow band wavelengths of red and blue light, many things are changing in the plants.
These narrow bands of light are having an effect on several plant quality parameters from a metabolic standpoint.”
Read More

Drip Tape Irrigation Kit

Hort Americas is offering a drip tape irrigation kit that contains all the components necessary to provide a complete watering solution for commercial or home gardening applications. Its simple design allows the irrigation system to be installed quickly enabling parts to be easily added or replaced.

The kit consists of commercial grade components that provide dependable, trouble-free uniform watering. The system has been carefully designed to ensure minimal set-up time and ease of use. Each component has been selected by the Hort Americas’ staff to provide consistent and dependable results.

Study to determine benefits of selling locally-grown food in urban markets

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded a $500,000 grant to a team of Cornell University researchers to determine the impact of selling local farm products to urban consumers.
“We want to know if rural-urban food links create wealth for farmers in rural communities,” said Todd Schmit, associate professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, who is leading the study. “There is unmet, growing demand for local products, but the idea that rural-urban food linkages are a genuine benefit to rural communities hasn’t been verified, although the USDA has invested over $300 million in local food initiatives in primarily urban areas in the last five years.”

The two-year study will focus on GrowNYC’s Greenmarket, which runs 54 farmers markets in the New York City area. The Greenmarket is supplied by more than 240 fishermen and farmers from across the Northeast.


Posted on

February 2015 Newsletter


Hort Americas Corporate Newsletter  |  February 2015



Greenhouse lettuce can be a successful container or hydroponic crop for ornamental plant growers looking to give edibles a try.

Meeting the Fertilization Needs of Greenhouse Lettuce

Ornamental plant growers considering producing an edible greenhouse crop may want to try lettuce. Neil Mattson, associate horticulture professor at Cornell University, said lettuce is a plant with moderate fertility needs.
“Grown hydroponically, lettuce has somewhat lower fertility needs than a greenhouse tomato crop,” Mattson said. “Grown as a container crop, lettuce is relatively similar to petunia.
However, lettuce has somewhat greater calcium needs. Growers can produce a relatively good crop of lettuce in containers, if they use a complete fertilizer at a moderate strength of 150 parts per million nitrogen.”
Mattson said head lettuce can be produced in containers similar to a bedding plant crop. The seed would be planted into a plug tray for three to four weeks. Transplanting the plugs into larger containers, the crop could be finished in four to six weeks depending on light and temperature levels.
Read More


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January 2015 Newsletter



Hort Americas Corporate Newsletter  |  January 2015


We hope your 2015 is off to a great start! As technology improves, plant factories have the potential to operate in the U.S. and Canada to produce crops that are difficult to grow using current conventional methods.

Plant factories continue to evolve

When you hear the term “plant factory” what picture comes to mind? University of Florida professor and mechanical engineer John Schueller said the traditional definition of a plant factory is a place in which there is no natural light and artificial light is used to produce plants.
“I’m more of a traditionalist in that I feel a plant factory is a place that has mainly or only artificial lights in order to grow plants,” Schueller said. “But a greenhouse with multiple levels of plants in which natural light is the dominant source and is supplemented with artificial light, I would also consider that to be a plant factory.”

Read More

Greenhouse disease management app

The Greenhouse Disease Management App is a disease management reference guide that contains options for using organic fungicides, biofungicides and chemical fungicides. Diseases covered by the app include: bacterial diseases, downy mildew, fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew, root/crown diseases, rusts, stem cankers, vascular wilts and viruses.
Created for commercial greenhouse growers of vegetable transplants and ornamental crops, this mobile optimized website app can be used with smart phones and other devices. The guide was prepared by Bess Dicklow at University of Massachusetts Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and Tina Smith at University of Massachusetts Extension.


Posted on

December 2014 Newsletter



Hort Americas Corporate Newsletter  |  December 2014



Ohio State University corporate executive chef Lesa Holford has started growing edibles in a campus greenhouse for use in food prepared for the school’s dining facilities.

Short course to focus on controlled environment agriculture

The 14th annual Greenhouse Crop Production & Engineering Design Short Course, March 22–27, 2015, will be held at the Westward Look Resort in Tucson, Ariz. Hosted by the University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC), the short course will include three full days of presentations on many aspects of controlled environment agriculture (CEA). There will also be one day of hands-on workshops at the CEAC campus.


Posted on

June 2014 Newsletter


Hort Americas Corporate Newsletter  |  June 2014


University researchers, extension specialists, industry representatives and USDA officials are working together to improve how research is conducted in controlled environment structures, including greenhouses.

Learn more about greenhouse edibles, LEDs in nursery production

Hort Americas general manager Chris Higgins will be speaking during three sessions at Cultivate’14 in Columbus, Ohio, July 12-15, 2014.

Monday, July 14
9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Room E161A
Growing Food in Greenhouses–Growing Opportunities: Part 1
Learn about the various types of systems used to grow greenhouse edibles and the important environmental factors, including water quality, light and fertilization, that impact their production. 

Monday, July 14
1:30-4:30 p.m., Room E161A
Growing Food in Greenhouses–Growing Opportunities: Part 2
This crop-orientated session is designed for beginners wanting more specific crop information or intermediate-level growers with experience growing greenhouse food crops. Detailed information will be provided on the production of greenhouse tomatoes, greens, herbs and strawberries.

Tuesday, July 15
9:15-10:15 a.m., Room C210
Light Bulb Moment: Using LEDs in Nursery Production
The benefits of LEDs are being applied to nursery production, including using the lights in the propagation of rootstocks and young tree production. This session will address the benefits, costs, and requirements for installing LEDs into nursery production operations.

  P.S. Don’t forget to RSVP for our
  “Taste of Columbus” Happy Hour coming up
   at Cultivate’14!


Please note: Hort Americas warehouse will not be shipping orders on
July 11, 14 and 15, 2014 while we exhibit at Cultivate’14 in 
Columbus, Ohio. We apologize for any inconvenience! If you are attending the show, we invite you stop by our trade show booth (No. 946) during the show.