When George Lucas was young — about 5 or 6 years old — his parents would tie a block of wood to his foot so he could drive a truck to load their hay harvest.
“I would drive this monstrous truck through the field while he threw the hay in and she would pack it,” he says.
A few years later, as a 9-year-old huckster, George would pick produce from the garden and walk a mile to town — a “little kid coming to your door,” he says. He would ask, “‘Hey, you want to buy my tomatoes and peppers?’”
The principle to always do one’s best has guided George since those early days working in agriculture. He learned it at an early age from his parents, Nathaniel George Lucas Sr. and Joyce Lucas, and his father-in-law, Thomas French Gant, reinforced it later. It’s also part of the Christian philosophy that guides George.
George and his wife, Louise, built their first greenhouse in 1978 and opened Lucas Greenhouses the following year in Monroeville, New Jersey. What started as George’s ambition to have an acre of greenhouse space has since morphed into 1.7 million square feet of greenhouse production and 35 acres of outdoor growing space.
Among the mums and the poinsettias, the petunias and the begonias, are George and Louise’s employees — between 150 and 270 of them, depending on the season. George says they make Lucas Greenhouses what it is, and he works right with them.
“In the springtime, we do work [15-hour days] sometimes, and I’m here the whole time, plus some, probably,” George says. “It’s not like I’m telling them what to do and I’m going on my boat and chilling out and enjoying the spoils of war, but I work with them side by side.”
The workplace and atmosphere were inviting enough to employ all three of George and Louise’s children — Lacey Lucas, the oldest, Corey Goetsch, and Nate Lucas, the youngest. None of them were told they had to work in the family business. But they do, and they are close in their relationships and proximity, working and spending family time together, and taking vacations together.
Corey says her father “leads with integrity,” and she has never heard him speak poorly about another person.
“His reputation is one of just always being kind and giving to people,” Corey says. “He gives people the benefit of the doubt — he wants people to know that he cares about them. He treats everyone like they are the most important person in the world.”
George learned some of these qualities from his father and father-in-law, as well as his former pastor, Mark Franklin of Hardingville Bible Church, who passed away from cancer in 2013. After his father and father-in-law, George says Pastor Franklin was the most influential person in his life.
“I called on him in the middle of the night in storms, for family emergencies, and just about anything else and he was always there,” George says.
George leaves a lasting impact on many people he comes across. One of them is Joe Moore, who started working for George in 1980, at age 11. When Joe started, he cleaned, spaced, hung and filled pots. Now, working as Lucas Greenhouses’ head grower after 39 years at the business, Joe says he learned numerous leadership lessons from George and Louise “via osmosis.” But some of the main ones are the importance of loyalty, treating people well and being hands-on.
“I probably don’t [know] of too many greenhouse owners with operations of this size that would be the first one out of bed and over to the greenhouse at 2 a.m. when a boiler alarm goes off or grabs the mop to clean up the men’s room when the toilet backs up, but George does that,” Joe says.
The early years
George Sr. was a farmer and raised a small herd of dairy cows, and grew hay, corn and other crops. Once, when George Jr. was a child, his father ended up in a body cast, and he still completed his work.
“I was really young at the time, but I can remember him crawling through the tomato field picking tomatoes because he didn’t have any help and he just had to do it,” George says.
George Sr.’s wife, Joyce, was diagnosed with lymphoma in her mid-20s. Without insurance for her, George Sr. paid for her treatments and lost all of his dairy cows. He didn’t go bankrupt and kept working. Next, he started a new job at the New Jersey Turnpike — in the mid-’60s, George Jr. estimates — to get health insurance and support the family.
The family’s agriculture legacy continued when George Jr. ventured into greenhouse production at age 14. He applied at a large, local greenhouse and wasn’t hired. But he was hired at VASK Greenhouses, a smaller, hobbyist-type operation ran at the time by two university professors, Don Vorreyer and Jim Anthony. Within four years, he says, he did everything there aside from signing checks.
The professors encouraged him to attend college, and he became the first in his family to do so. He spent a year at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. It was expensive, and he didn’t feel like it was the right fit, so he left. Next, he completed a work program at Cumberland County College, while continuing his job at VASK Greenhouses.
“I was constantly trying to grow that business, and we got to the point where they were like, ‘Look, we don’t want to get any bigger. We’re doing this for enjoyment,’” George says. “I wanted to start my own business. They helped a little bit with that process as far as giving me time to go do things.”
George and Louise, being the oldest children in their families and bonding over a love of the outdoors, decided to start their own next chapter and founded Lucas Greenhouses.
“It was just cool being able to take cuttings, pick and root them, do your own thing, and I always say — independent greenhouse guys — we’re independent — we don’t like being told what to do,” George says. “That was all part of owning my own thing, I was like, ‘I’m my own boss, I make my own mistakes and I make my own successes.’ We were both kind of the same in that, so that’s why we decided to start this.”
George and Louise
George and Louise’s parents all knew each other from attending school together. Working in agriculture — his parents at their small truck farm and her parents at their large fruit and vegetable farm growing peaches, string beans, and other crops — they sent their children to 4-H camp together.
Louise was and still is friends with George’s sister Susan, who she shared a cabin with during camp at age 12.
“On the way home, on the bus, she goes, ‘My brother’s back there,’ and I go, ‘Oh yeah, which one?’ And I turned around and looked, and she goes, ‘That’s the one right there,’” Louise says. “And I said, ‘Oh, he’s cute!’ She turns around and she looks at me, and she goes, ‘No, he’s not — he’s ugly.’ I said, ‘No, he’s cute.’ And I said to her, ‘I’m going to marry him someday!’”
They were married on May 14, 1977 — he at age 21, her at 20. They bought 4 acres from Louise’s father in 1978 and began expanding the business from there. George worked during the day at VASK for the first couple years after he and Louise opened Lucas Greenhouses. She would work during the day at their greenhouse, then at night they would plant and build structures.
In the early days of Lucas Greenhouses, times were tough financially, George says. For additional money, Louise canned tomatoes, and they both raised animals for meat.
“Being both of us were firstborn, both of us were very strong-headed — that was really the challenge as to us working together 12-, 14-, 16-hour days — sleeping together — you’re not getting away from each other to let things cool down when things happen,” he says. “But it was good. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
Louise was inspired by her in-laws. George says Louise would take Joyce to her chemotherapy treatments.
Louise would see her mother-in-law vomit on the way home, then make dinner with a bucket next to her — a testament to her determination to see things through. In 1980, she lost her life to lymphoma.
“I loved my mother-in-law, and she loved me,” Louise says. “We had a really good relationship. And my father-in-law, he’s a pulls-no-punches guy. If he thinks something, he’s going to tell you how it is. Those traits are present in my husband. If you look at the parents, you know what the kid’s going to be.”
George accepted the Lord as his savior when he was 26, Louise says, and from then on, the couple began to talk things over and work together more often.
“We’re working side by side,” she says. “No matter what happens — good, bad or indifferent — I’m always there for him to say, ‘Look, we can get through this — it doesn’t matter. We’ll work harder.’”
George’s sister Susan married and started a family before George and Louise. When Susan had her second child, Louise brought up the topic of having children with George. He told her he wasn’t ready. Every time she asked him after that, she received the same response.
“He actually didn’t like to be around kids,” she says. “And so then at 28, I had given up, I said, ‘Well, I guess we’re not going to have kids.’ So then he decided at 29 — he goes, ‘You know what, I think I’m ready for kids.’ I think I almost had a heart attack and fell over backwards.”
Between Louise’s willingness to forego having children and her abandoning plans to become a professional interior decorator and landscape designer to build and run greenhouses with George, Corey says her mother’s selflessness is one of the things that makes her special.
“She was willing to sacrifice anything and everything for him and for his dreams,” she says.
Aside from his faith, George says family is the most important thing in life to him. That was true in 1978, when his father, two brothers and two sisters, and Louise’s father, two brothers and two sisters, built the first greenhouse. And it holds true now, with his children and grandchildren around, as well as his sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephews and cousin working at the business.
Lacey, George and Louise’s oldest child, is not married. Nate has two boys, Nathaniel George Lucas IV and Finnegan (Finn), with his wife Svetlana, and Corey has two boys, Lincoln and Kolton, with her husband Marques.
“We live within probably 700 yards of each other, and we eat together every night,” George says.
In her current day-to-day role, Louise handles accounts payable, payroll taxes and taxes. Occasionally, she puts together planter boxes for weddings and cuts and shapes plants. In her free time, she teaches Sunday school and donates money and items, such as desks and chairs, to the Christian school her children attended. Like George, she places family right behind her faith.
The family spends so much time together that Louise compares them to the characters in “My Big Fat Greek Wdding.”
“We cook together, we play together, we hike together,” she says. “We’re always together.”
After retiring from the New Jersey Turnpike, George Sr. took up full-time work at Lucas Greenhouses. He has since stepped back from the business to take care of his second wife, Dolly — they married in 1991 — but occasionally shows up to help at the greenhouse or mow their lawn.
Over the years, George’s youngest brother, Bill, built and maintained greenhouses and helped in other ways. George says he was his “right arm.” He died of sleep apnea in 2002 at age 36.
“That was a pretty dramatic time for us, but we were in a growth mode,” George says. “So Joe [Moore] had been here all along. Joe’s brother, Tim ... had got out of college and was looking for something, so he came in to help with our sales side because I was doing all that at the time by myself.”
Help from family comes in the form of contract work, too. George’s brother Mark is a masonry contractor and does much of the concrete work for Lucas Greenhouses.
George says he wants other members of his team to become part of the family, and he tries to treat them as such. Some of them have been there since the beginning, like Joe as well as Lori Fletcher, who handles data entry and was the first employee to learn how to use computers.
From early on, George says his philosophy has been, “Everyone else gets paid before I do.” He would pay his employees to make sure their bills and mortgages were paid, and he would live on what was left.
“I love my husband’s philosophy — if something costs more money or we need more money, we’ll make more — it’s only money,” Louise says. “It’s the truth. It’s not a person; it’s not a life. It’s money. It’s there to use to better your life and give you enjoyment out of it. What matters to us is family.”
Lacey handles payroll, balancing checkbooks and keeping credit cards, while Corey handles accounts payable, human resources, workers’ compensation, photography and other tasks.
George and Louise are showing Nate how to do everything in the greenhouse because the plan is for him to eventually take over the business.
“We’re trying to get him to take the baby steps — to learn to pull weeds, to learn to put on hangers, to learn to work in shipping, to be the gopher — because that way, when you ask people to do a job, you’ve done every job in there, from putting on chemicals to pulling irrigation hoses to pulling orders to leaning against benches that rip your pants and your legs are always bruised,” Louise says. “That way, you know what it’s like when you make a demand on people.”
While he’s still at the helm for the foreseeable future, George plans to continue to improve efficiencies. The operation has installed LED lights and plans to add more of them in propagation, generally increase propagation space, expand the shipping area and hire more salespeople and assistant growers in the young plants division. Next year, he may bring in additional H-2A workers to plant mums in the fields.
Through it all, George plans to be right there working alongside everybody.
“Again, I’m not buying an island somewhere and saying, ‘Thank you very much,’” he says. “I want everybody’s quality of life to get better as we get better, and I think we’ve been able to do that.”
The horticultural market is continually evolving, and with that, so do the challenges greenhouse and nursery growers face. Their commitment to maintaining clean, pest-free operations strengthens our commitment to delivering innovative and reliable solutions.
We are honored to partner with Greenhouse Management and Nursery Management for the third consecutive year to recognize the extraordinary individuals who have made significant achievements in the horticulture industry. Congratulations to the Class of 2019 Horticultural Industries Leadership Award winners: Art Van Wingerden, Metrolina Greenhouses; George Lucas, Lucas Greenhouses; Doug Cole, D.S. Cole Growers; Terri McEnaney, Bailey Nurseries; Dale Deppe, Spring Meadow Nursery; and Alan Jones, Manor View Farm.
These recipients demonstrate exceptional leadership and commitment, and have positively impacted customers, businesses and the industry as a whole.
Syngenta remains committed to meeting the needs of growers in this ever-changing industry. We are continually working to evolve and expand labels, build more agronomic programs and develop solutions to meet insect and disease challenges.
Most recently, we announced the expanded label for Endeavor® insecticide, which now includes drench applications and the ability to apply to vegetables grown for transplant. We also continue to introduce new agronomic programs to help control the most common insects and diseases that affect crops like poinsettias, spring bedding plants and mums. These programs are thoroughly researched and incorporate some of the most trusted products in our portfolio including Mainspring® GNL insecticide, and Mural® and Segovis® fungicides. Lastly, we want to help greenhouse and nursery operations succeed by maximizing profitability through our GreenTrust® 365 program, which allows businesses to earn year-long rebates on product purchases. While growers work to keep operations pest-free, we’re standing by with the tools and support to help.
Again, congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 Horticultural Industries Leadership Awards! Thank you for the vital role you play in growing strong, healthy and beautiful plants.
Head of Marketing, Turf and Ornamental
As a fourth-generation leader, Terri McEnaney bestrides the preservation of her family’s legacy and the evolution of expansion and innovation for Bailey Nurseries.
Terri’s grandparents instilled in her a fundamental sense of compassion when it comes to dealing with others. They led by example and she grew up emulating their values.
“My grandparents had a lasting impact on my values and how I make choices and decisions every day,” Terri says. “Their humble and welcoming attitude showed me how important it is to treat everyone with respect and openness.”
And it was her grandparents who offered her a leadership position in the family business.
“When they both encouraged me to come back to the nursery, it gave me the confidence and support I needed to step up and take on a leadership role while reminding me of the importance of surrounding yourself with good people, listening and empowering others to succeed.”
Terri grew up at the nursery, working summers and after school alongside her family. But after high school graduation, she chose to pursue a career in finance. Armed with an accounting degree, she took a job at 3M working in the finance and cost-analysis departments.
“I wanted to go somewhere I could prove myself and learn as much as I could,” she says.
At 3M Terri was involved in several of the company’s functions including research and development, marketing and product production.
“3M had tremendous supervisory development and training, including job sharing,” she says.
While a career was extremely important to her, after eight years at 3M, Terri left the company to start a family. She focused on that new role full time, raising three sons (Ryan, Joe and Dan) and one daughter (Megan).
She found joy in raising children and learned a whole new set of management skills.
“Being a parent is one of the most rewarding things you can ever experience. It changes who you are because it’s such a big part of your life,” she says. “It’s no longer all about you. It also teaches patience and teaches you how to listen.”
In the early ’90s when her children were still young, she felt a tug to contribute to the family business. She returned to the nursery part-time. Several years later her family asked if she’d take on more responsibility and go full-time.
“That was a big decision for me. But the encouragement I received from my grandparents made me feel like I had something to bring to the table,” Terri says. “They felt like I was a good listener and that my experience from 3M would be valuable to the nursery business.”
In 2001, Terri became president of Bailey Nurseries, the company her great-grandfather founded in 1905.
An ear for leadership
Terri’s grandparents noticed a valuable trait in her skill set – her ability to listen. Terri is an active listener who gives full attention to the speaker whether it’s an employee, a colleague, a customer or a family member.
“Terri has this amazing combination of being compassionate and a good listener. She wants, to the best of her ability, to make everyone feel like they’ve been heard,” says Brian Mark, a friend and member of the Bailey advisory board. “And that is really important in a family business because of the emotion attached to that scenario. She asks the right questions at the right time and listens intently to answers.”
One of her main goals as company president is to spend a great deal of time visiting the nursery’s seven locations in Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon, Washington and Georgia.
“It’s important to me to meet with everyone in our organization and acknowledge their importance. It’s one of the most rewarding things I do,” she says.
Recently Terri met with a group of employees who had just completed a leadership academy through the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association. During the academy, each participant was assigned a project and Terri wanted to hear what they took from the experience.
“They said they’d love to be able to cross-train going from propagation to the container fields, for example. They want to be exposed to all of the different areas in the company,” she says. “This will allow them to expand their knowledge and potentially make a career move, perhaps as a foreman in another division. Thanks to their feedback, we’re going to make this happen. Asking for feedback is so important because employees often see things we may not see as managers.”
Brian describes her as “tremendously accessible.”
“There isn’t any hierarchy that someone needs to go through to talk to her. She sees the good in people, she has compassion and she holds people accountable. That’s a difficult balance but one that helps her and the nursery succeed,” Brian says.
A few years ago, Bailey conducted an exercise that revisited the company’s core values and asked employees, “What does ‘growing what’s next’ mean to you?” Growing what’s next is the company motto.
“We learned that it’s not just about growing plants, but growing teams and individuals and utilizing the foundation of the values we have and how you apply that to what you do every day,” she says. “Our teams talked about planning and delegation, including how difficult that can be. I was really impressed with how many brought up that problem and how conscientious they are about their roles.”
Each summer Bailey hosts a customer expo which provides Terri and the management team a tremendous opportunity to listen to their customers.
What started out as a small gathering some 20 years ago has morphed into the company’s largest event. The expo is open to all Bailey customers, who have the chance to see new introductions, new processes, review the brands, talk face-to-face with employees and management and sit in on educational seminars.
“When our customers come to visit us and see the breadth of what we do and meet the crews who are doing it, they get a better understanding of the offerings we have and the contacts they have access to,” Terri says. “It’s a huge undertaking, but it helps improve every part of the business — from brand management to merchandising for our retail customers to growers with production. A customer may not buy anything that day, but it certainly strengthens the relationship with that customer.”
Terri and her team also listen to outside help in the form of an advisory board. The board is made up of carefully selected people from different business backgrounds and industries. They meet three times a year and focus on strategy, family governance and financials, and are paid for their time.
“Their perspective is invaluable. I believe in life-long learning and listening to other people’s perspectives before developing my own opinion. They act as a barometer to our progress. They challenge us. I encourage other companies to do something similar.”
The face of change
Change is necessary for survival, but also for success and Terri faces it with optimism and courage.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve been around five years or 105 years, you have to change with the market — sometimes dramatically — to continue to thrive and be successful,” she says.
Bailey has experienced immense change in its business model. The company went from “growing plants in black pots to becoming more of a marketing company,” Terri says.
“Take Endless Summer as an example. We recognized that we alone couldn’t do justice bringing that to market and we asked other growers to help by being licensees. It was a significant change in the way we produce plants and how products are brought to market,” she says. “There was as much enthusiasm as there was skepticism. But we learned a great deal from our partners all over the world. As we bring new genetics to the market, change is constant in our business.”
The dramatic shift in the economy during the most recent recession forced the nursery industry to change.
“During the downturn, all of our divisions had to hunker down. We chose to close our operations in Iowa, and that was a very difficult time for everybody,” she says. “That situation forced us and others in our industry to acknowledge that we must understand our financials.”
The recovery from the recession also brought new opportunities. In the fall of 2018, Bailey acquired Carlton Plants, an Oregon-based bareroot nursery.
“Bringing Carlton Plants into our organization balances out our offerings so we’re not so heavily reliant on the container business,” Terri says. “Both organizations are focused on quality and process improvement. They’re coming up with new ideas, and that’s been the most exciting thing that’s come out of the acquisition. Change is not easy, but I’ve been impressed with how our people have embraced it and how they’re sharing information and successes between the groups.”
Terri’s willingness to share her experiences and advice will no doubt benefit the next generation of nursery industry leaders. One of her key recommendations is to be willing to let go and delegate “so that they may grow and gain confidence.”
“As leaders, we need to make sure we’re exposing young people to other aspects of the business and industry to help them develop a career path that is rewarding and satisfying,” she says.
“Encourage them to speak up and share their ideas and observations. Reinforce their importance and how their role contributes to the overall goals of the company. It’s important for us to learn from and listen to young professionals, since they see things in different ways and relate to our future customers.”
With experience, Terri learned to focus on one thing at a time.
“I used to think multitasking was the best thing, but once my kids were grown, I started to disagree with that philosophy,” she says.
“I really make an effort to direct my focus on one thing. I’m able to do that because I have a lot of really good people I work with and a lot of confidence in their decision-making capabilities.”
Whiteflies and thrips remain two of the most challenging pests in ornamental production. There are multiple species of each, some of which can transmit plant viruses, leading to further plant damage. Preventing these insect pests is critical for optimal control. Curative applications can be costly and unsuccessful.
The biggest reason whiteflies and thrips are so difficult to control is their rapid reproduction rate. Populations of these two pests can increase very quickly, often resulting in plant injury. To make matters worse, their prevalence has led to resistance issues.
“They hit so many different crops and the reproduction is so rapid so they’re being treated very often, which can lead to resistance to the materials that everyone is using,” says Stanton Gill, extension specialist in IPM and entomology at the University of Maryland Extension. “Growers who are doing broad-spectrum spraying in a greenhouse environment and trying to hit multiple plants in multiple applications — you’re going to get resistance. Especially with thrips, because their life cycle is so short.”
Whiteflies’ life cycle moves a little slower than thrips, taking 24 to 26 days for a complete pass through from egg to reproducing adult. Controlling whiteflies and thrips requires an integrated strategy of monitoring, utilizing proper cultural practices and effective control agents. Since they often feed in hard-to-reach areas of the plant (buds and flowers), thorough application coverage is critical for successful control. Thrips make it particularly difficult because of their egg-laying practices.
“The egg is tucked into the leaf so the grower can’t see it,” Gill says. “It hatches, it goes through two larval stages than boom – it’s an adult reproducing. That can be very rapid when the hot weather occurs. So populations can go through the roof quickly.”
In addition to the potential threat of tospovirus transmission with thrips, their rasping mouthparts cause physical injury to both leaves and flowers, reducing the quality and salability of the crop. With whiteflies, the presence of immatures and adults is not appealing, and the sticky honeydew they excrete attracts ants and results in the growth of sooty mold.
“It is important to carefully scout your crops every week and apply controls at the first appearance of the pest,” says Nancy Rechcigl, technical services manager for ornamentals at Syngenta.
Being proactive can help with control, and big-ticket crops like poinsettia and basil are priorities because they’re such moneymakers.
“Poinsettia is always going to be the classic plant they go to,” Gill says. “Gerbera daisy is the Typhoid Mary of plants — gorgeous flower, but it gets whiteflies, it gets thrips, it gets aphids, it gets powdery mildew, downy mildew, it gets it all.”
Amy Morris, head grower at N.G. Heimos Greenhouses in Milstadt, Ill., was spending a lot of time and product spraying for pests. She turned to Mainspring® GNL insecticide from Syngenta, which is a neonicotinoid alternative for greenhouse and nursery crops.
“We trialed Mainspring GNL and found that a drench provided excellent coverage,” Morris says. “We were not seeing any caterpillars, thrips, aphids or leafminers. We used to have to spray every week just to prevent flare ups of aphids or caterpillars on our outdoor mums but we’re able to eliminate a lot of that product use with a drench of Mainspring GNL.”
A safer alternative
Neonicotinoids have long been used to combat infestations in the nursery. However, recent bans and limitations have forced growers to consider alternative chemistries. Mainspring GNL insecticide controls a wide range of chewing and sucking pests with the novel active ingredient cyantraniliprole, which belongs to the recently-added chemistry class (IRAC Group 28). As a non-neonicotinoid product, it is compatible with beneficial insects. It carries a four-hour REI (restricted-entry interval), has no special personal protective equipment required for early entry and is registered by the U.S. EPA under its Reduced Risk Program.
A reduced risk pesticide use is defined as one which may reasonably be expected to accomplish one or more of the following; (1) reduces pesticide risks to human health; (2) reduces pesticide risks to non-target organisms; (3) reduces the potential for contamination of valued, environmental resources, or (4) broadens adoption of IPM or makes it more effective. Mainspring GNL qualifies under one or more of the above criteria.When used preventively, Mainspring GNL, can keep pest populations from building to damaging levels and helps reduce additional pest pressure later in the season, Rechcigl says.
Growers can use Mainspring GNL in a similar manner as they would a neonicotinoid product.
“Mainspring GNL is systemic, so you should make a drench application a few weeks after transplanting, once the crop has started rooting into the container,” says Rechcigl. “The more roots that are present, the more active ingredient is picked up, resulting in longer control. You typically see 8-12 weeks of protection with drench applications.”
Sprays can also be used to control these pests on crops with short production times. When sprayed, applications should begin when insect populations are first noticed. The active ingredient will be absorbed into the plant tissue and prevent populations from building to damaging levels. Spray applications also have residual activity and Rechcigl recommends making applications on a two-week interval.
Morris was pleased with the results of the Mainspring GNL drench on her poinsettia crop.
“We appreciate that we are using fewer chemicals on a weekly basis and the fact that it is not a neonicotinoid,” she says. “With poinsettias, we found that drenching them at the 10 oz. rate held perfectly for 8 weeks. If we want 100% coverage, we drench with Mainspring GNL and we don’t have to go back and make curative applications. I would absolutely recommend it to other growers.”
A potent combo
Using a product rotation with different modes of action is an important component of an integrated pest management (IPM) program to help prevent the development of resistance. Growers should select products with/from different FRAC and IRAC codes and, if using biological control agents (BCAs), ensure compatibility. For the greatest success, take time to research the control products and the BCAs in your IPM program to ensure compatibility and avoid trial and error.
“Mainspring GNL works like a shield and provides long, residual control against a wide range of chewing and sucking pests that challenge ornamental production,” Rechcigl says. “It also has good compatibility with natural enemies/beneficials and can be used in IPM programs. Having an effective tool that will control your primary pest problems with long residual control means that the grower has more time to focus their attention on other productions issues.”
Gill has long been a proponent for biological control programs for thrips and whiteflies because of the resistance issue.
He has conducted many trials testing IPM approaches that incorporate traditional chemical treatments. During a 2018 trial focused on eliminating thrips and aphids from dahlias, he found an approach that works well. On the chemical side, he used a drench with Mainspring GNL applied twice a year at a rate of 8 oz. per 100 gallons of water. He combined that with a banker plant system, predacious insects and pheromone and food-baited sticky traps.
The banker plants used in the Maryland trial were an ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum) ‘Purple Flash’, which was chosen for prolific flower production. The peppers’ job was to provide pollen and nectar to feed a predacious insect called Orius (also known as minute pirate bugs), which loves to feed on the larval stage of thrips.
“When used preventively, Mainspring GNL can keep pest populations from building to damaging levels.” NANCY RECHCIGL, technical services manager, ornamentals, Syngenta
The compatibility of Mainspring GNL with beneficials came in handy, as he also used two predatory mites, Amblyseius cucumeris and A. swirskii, in the trial.
Gill says the drench did an excellent job controlling aphids on the treated plants for the entire season. No aphids or thrips were detected in the first 12 weeks of growth. And its application did not impact predator releases.
“It worked beautifully,” Gill says.
Next, he’s planning a second year of the project, in which he’ll reduce the number of biological releases to try to reduce the cost per plant.
In addition to whiteflies and thrips, Mainspring GNL can be used to prevent aphids, caterpillars, leafminers, leaf-feeding beetles and lace bugs for greenhouse and nursery growers.
Learn more at GreenCastOnline.com/MainspringGNL
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