Nematodes are very tiny, microscopic worms that mostly live in soils, although foliar nematodes live in leaves. While some species harm plant roots, others are beneficial by attacking and killing pests.
Root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) are tiny creatures that feed on the roots of plants and can cause various types of damage. These microscopic worms cause gall growth or swelling to occur. Once plant roots are affected by nematodes, they become weak and fungi and bacteria cause even further damage.
Source: North Carolina State University Extension, Ohio State University Department of Plant Pathology
Image copyright New Africa via Adobe Stock
Departments - The Human Resource
How small-to medium-sized businesses can get the most out of the HR function.
When I joined an underground utilities company as the HR manager, I knew nothing of the business. If I was going to add value to the organization, then I had to understand the business —what they did, how they did it, their competition and how the company could compete. Only then could I comment on staff planning, project pipelines and employee retention.
In small- to medium-sized businesses, many leaders struggle with understanding the strategic partnership that HR can have because HR does not properly understand the business. In addition, many business leaders only understand the transactional support HR provides. Many business leaders determine there is a need for dedicated HR personnel only when the transactions become more burdensome than they are willing or able to handle. For HR to demonstrate the strength of the strategic partnership, it is critical that they be intimately familiar with all aspects of your business, that there is an understanding of when to outsource transactional tasks and when to bring those back in-house.
To get the most out of your HR department or function, business leaders should differentiate the transactional tasks of HR from their strategic partnership with the business. Transactions can be outsourced and automated. There are many solutions, some of which were shared in a previous article, "Resistance is Futile," that addresses many affordable HR compliance solutions (the primary transactional tasks of HR) for small- to medium-sized businesses. The low- to no-cost solutions available are numerous and when employed, these services free up the HR team member(s) to become true strategic partners.
There is a time in the business life cycle where outsourcing transactional tasks is the right strategic move, but also a time when bringing such tasks in-house is best. According to the annual Gartner 2019 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey, "a growing number of CEOs… deem financial priorities important, especially profitability improvement." The survey also states, "at the same time, mentions of financial priorities, cost, and risk management also increased." The appropriate treatment of transactional HR tasks can be a huge help when addressing such concerns in your organization.
Outsourcing can stabilize cash flow especially in a seasonal business, make it more predictable and easier on the budget. It can introduce automation such as self-service portals, reporting and file maintenance. Outsourcing transactional HR tasks can even shift the risks of non-compliance to a vendor, potentially saving your business hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, fees and government-imposed remedies.
Typically, much later in the business life cycle, insourcing these transactional tasks is the right strategic move. It will provide more control of data, improve the quality of service transactions, allow for development of deeper metrics and tracking, and improve innovation and creativity around HR initiatives. Due to economies of scale, it may even be more cost effective to insource than outsource.
Knowing the right time to do each is somewhat challenging, but when done right, HR becomes a more strategic partner to your business.
Now that the transactional tasks have been appropriately addressed, we need to fully immerse HR in the business. Teach them the business from the ground up. Your HR function needs to understand not just what growers do, but what they are challenged by with various crops and systems. They need to know the role and responsibility of those leading operations, whether they are working with plants in a field or in a greenhouse, and the relationship between customer service, sales, product development, marketing and operations.
HR should shadow every department or function within your business, meet the key leaders and talk with entry-level employees. Invite HR to meet with key customers to understand this relationship and the customers’ challenges your company is trying to help them solve. Expose them to the entire industry through various trade shows and conferences so they can learn about all the companies that make up the industry as well as interact with other HR leaders to share best practices.
Strategic elements that HR brings include assisting with the development of the organization's strategic and tactical plan, organizational development and design, strategic workforce planning, succession planning, and learning and development. Even the development of compensation and benefits programs, collectively the total rewards program, is strategic. In a March 14, 2019 article by The Predictive Index, the top two CEO concerns are business strategy and talent strategy, two core areas addressed with an HR function that performs a strategic role. A Jan. 17, 2019 article by the Conference Board reports that talent and leader development are top internal concerns. These are not transactional issues. The strategic elements HR brings directly impact the ability to attract and retain top talent regardless of industry, drive organizational strategy and align development with the strategic plan.
With the appropriate treatment of transactional HR tasks, imagine the difference this makes when you ask your HR function to recruit, build a strategic staffing plan or identify and prepare succession plans. Having immersed them in all aspects of the business, when it comes to organizational design, learning and development, and performance management, HR will have the strategic understanding and capability to best advise leadership to make the correct business decisions. Reports and metrics that are meaningful can be developed to improve efficiency and effectiveness, enhance innovation and drive the competitive advantages of your business in the industry. This is HR's true value.
Michael Maggiotto Jr, PHR, SHRM-SCP is a Sr. Human Capital Advisor at BEST Human Capital & Advisory group and leads the human resources advisory services as well as providing retained executive search. He developed the firm’s WR2 HR Analysis designed to identify the Wins, Risks, and Remedies for horticulture and other niche industry companies.
Features - Cover Story
Rancho Tissue Technologies expands into the evolving hemp market.
When Rancho Tissue Technologies founder Heather May recognized the value hemp could provide the green industry, she began the meticulous process of trialing the crop. Heather and her staff learned the best methods of propagating hemp and trialed it in the tissue culture lab and in the greenhouse.
“We quickly recognized how well hemp fit into our existing production models,” Heather says. “It fit into the protocols we already had set up for tropicals and succulents, so it wasn’t a tough learning curve for us.”
In the greenhouse, this crop grows really quickly, “which growers will be happy to learn,” she adds. “We learned in the greenhouse that hemp requires humidity at the beginning of production and then it’s a heavy feeder. There are slightly different lighting requirements for this crop, as well.”
Rancho Tissue’s greenhouses were already equipped with a micromist system and BioTherm tubing to heat the benches. The company is installing new supplemental lighting for the hemp crop, she explains.
“Like any crop, growers need to have a good production plan in place, and it’s important to conduct trials,” she adds.
As a registered hemp cultivator with California’s San Diego County, Rancho Tissue Technologies produces tissue culture hemp at the lab in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. The lab provides custom contract growing for growers’ own selections, as well as tissue culture of the most in-demand hemp selections. Rancho Tissue will accept orders from registered hemp growers located in any U.S. state, and will also hold genetics for other hemp growers. The company can ship to any U.S. state once that state’s hemp regulations are in place.
Rancho Tissue’s microcuttings and liners are grown for the fiber and CBD oil markets. The hemp-derived CBD market is expected to grow to $22 billion by 2022, according to a Brightfield Group report released last fall.
Nursery and greenhouse growers interested in adding hemp and hemp/CBD would benefit from tissue culture plants because they’re clean and true to type, Heather says.
“They don’t have to carry big amounts of mother stock from season to season and, depending on where they’re located, they can order any time of the year,” she adds.
There’s already been a “huge demand” for hemp tissue culture this year, she says.
Intellectual property will be a critical issue with hemp and hemp-derived CBD crops. Currently there are open market varieties being grown and sold, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office clarified in May of this year that hemp businesses can apply for trademark registration, as long as their operations comply with the FDA’s regulations that hemp-derived CBD cannot be used as a food or beverage ingredient. Breeders have approached Rancho Tissue about growing their own genetics from tissue culture.
“In addition to my own experience in hemp tissue culture, our international team of researchers has worked with genetics from the horticulture industry’s leading companies for more than three decades, positioning us well to successfully produce quality, consistent tissue culture from any crop or category while providing the utmost protection for intellectual property,” Heather says.
The first test crops of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) have been growing since early summer at the John C. Pair Horticulture Center in Haysville near Wichita, the Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center in the Kansas City metro area, and the Northwest Research-Extension Center in Colby.
K-State researchers are seeking answers to many questions, including whether to grow hemp for grain, fiber or CBD oil.
The majority of the revenue stream in this expanding market comes from CBD production, says Jason Griffin, director of the John C. Pair Horticulture Center. But there are emerging markets for hemp paper products to flooring materials and even hempcrete – concrete reinforced with hemp fiber to strengthen it, he adds.
K-State Research and Extension is testing several different production techniques (including field grown and containerized plants in high tunnels), fertilizer treatments and looking for pests and diseases. The outdoor crops were grown from seed acquired from the USDA’s multi-state industrial hemp project and the indoor crops were clonally propagated from cuttings.
“Think of the fiber and grain hemp varieties as an agronomy crop,” Griffin says. “It’s grown similar to corn or wheat production and in Kansas seeding occurs about the same time as corn. Conventional nursery growers could use fiber or grain hemp like a cover crop. For CBD hemp, it’s typically grown under cover like a mum or a spirea.”
The Pair Center is testing 17 different varieties, while the Olathe center planted one variety to observe how multiple environments affect growth.
Researchers have observed that containerized hemp produced in the high tunnels grows quickly.
“Rooted cuttings were potted into a 1-gallon container and plants outgrew those pots in two to three weeks. Then we shifted those plants up to a 7-gallon container. We’re using the standard soilless nursery substrates and standard controlled-release fertilizer.”
The CBD hemp varieties can be grown outside, but only if there’s no wild hemp nearby that would pollinate the valuable crop.
“Pollen will carry up to 3 miles. The oil is produced in the female flower bud and if it gets pollinated, the plant will stop making buds and start producing seed. We’re experimenting with insect netting on the high tunnels to see if that keeps the plants from getting pollinated,” he explains.
The researchers have recognized some familiar faces when it comes to insect pests, such as aphids, spider mites and thrips, Griffin says.
“In the field plots we’ve also seen corn borers. And researchers in Kentucky identified hemp leaf spot, which can be pretty devastating,” he adds.
Currently there are no pesticides labeled for cannabis.
In the CBD oil crops, researchers have found that some varieties need pinching and some are resistant to powdering mildew.
In late summer, the Perennial Plant Association named Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’ its 2020 Perennial of the Year. Find out why it deserves such accolades and why you should consider adding it to next year’s lineup.
‘Sun King’ emerges mid-spring featuring large, rounded clumps of golden yellow compound leaves. If it receives a few hours of sun a day in the landscape, the foliage will remain yellow all summer. In heavier shade, the foliage ranges from chartreuse to lime green.
The brightly colored foliage contrasts beautifully with reddish-brown stems. In mid- to late-summer, delightful racemes of tiny white flowers appear, followed by deep purple berries. The fruit is good for birds, but not edible for humans. Bees will visit the flowers in summer.
Not just for show
Aralia cordata, commonly known as Japanese spikenard, mountain asparagus or udo, may also be used for cooking. Young shoots of this plant are considered a culinary delicacy in Japan where they are cultivated in underground tunnels. The taste is similar to asparagus. White fleshy roots are eaten or prepared like a parsnip. Udo leaves may be eaten as a vegetable when young.
Plant the large plug into a trade 2-gallon container for best results. Aralia is a quick grower and becomes too large for smaller containers. 20 count plugs will finish a trade 2-gallon container in roughly 6-8 weeks at 65°F. Consistent moisture is important for Aralia. Do not allow plants to dry out. Provide light to moderate shade. Too much shade will cause the plant to lose its bright color.
In the landscape
This shrub provides a tropical look but is hardy in USDA Zones 3-9. It grows quickly to at least 3 feet wide by 3 feet tall but will likely grow larger. It’s reported to be deer resistant. Use in partially shaded areas and at the back of borders or as a focal point. Companion plants include Dicentra sp., Heuchera sp. or Athyrium sp. Introduced to the North American trade by Barry Yinger, this hardy shrub will likely wow consumers.
Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden, Walters Gardens, Terra Nova Nurseries