Hammond field day features landscape horticulture

Regina P. Bracy, Parish, Richard L., Owings, Allen D., Morgan, Johnny W.  |  6/18/2008 2:25:21 AM

News Release Distributed 06/18/08

HAMMOND – Landscape professionals and consumers alike received valuable information at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station’s second annual landscape horticulture field day on June 11.

Dr. Regina Bracy, resident coordinator at the station, said the field day had been rescheduled from May 15 because of severe storms and heavy rain in the Hammond area on the original date.

“The cool-season plants don’t look quite as good as they did when the field day was originally scheduled, but the warm-season plants are showing well,” Bracy said. “The field day crowd was not as high as we would have liked, but we understand that when you reschedule an event you always run the risk of a lower turnout.”

The landscape field day is a reflection of a change in emphasis at the Hammond station, said Dr. David Boethel, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station.

“This station had traditionally focused on the area of vegetables and a lot of work on strawberries,” Boethel said. “Some of that is still being conducted, but the focus has moved toward looking at landscape-type planting and working with plants for suburban and urban settings.”

Boethel said the station continues to undergo broad-based change, which includes improvements in infrastructure, including a new office and laboratory.

Bracy began the field day with walking tours of landscape research projects and demonstration plots. She said the major focus of the station now is to provide service to the landscape portion of the green industry.

“The horticulture industry as a whole is a $2.2 billion business in Louisiana,” she said.

Dr. Allen Owings, an LSU AgCenter horticulturist at the station, led the 50-plus attendees to research plots that included Knock Out rose varieties; new plants from Proven Winners, Ball FloraPlant, Ball Seed, PanAmerican Seed, Sakata Seed and other companies; and a review of some new woody ornamental plants.

Owings also took the group through the new “sun garden” evaluation area at the station where they viewed the new Sunny Knock Out rose and other new roses from Conard-Pyle and Weeks wholesale rose growers.

Visitors also toured the new Margie Jenkins azalea garden at the station, which features many azaleas and companion plants, including many under-utilized native species, Owings said.

Dr. Dick Parish, an LSU AgCenter engineer at the station, discussed features and safety recommendations for zero-turn-radius mowers.

“Overall, the mowers have a pretty good record for safety, but there are a few things to keep in mind when operating one of these machines,” Parish said.

He cautioned operators about overturns, operating on a slope and a fire hazard that exists with some machines that have plastic gas tanks mounted over the rear wheels.

Parish said two of the most important pieces of equipment on the mowers are often under-utilized.

“The seatbelts and especially the rollover protective structure should always be used while operating this piece of equipment,” he said.

Paul Orr, an LSU AgCenter research associate at the station, also discussed hurricane tree damage and the recovery process; planting native tree species and protecting trees from construction damage.

Bracy said the station is open to the public, and she encourages the public to come out and see what’s growing at the Hammond Research Station.

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Contacts: Allen Owings at (985) 543-4125 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu
Regina Bracy at (985) 543-4125 or rbracy@agcenter.lsu.edu
Dick Parish at (985) 543-4125 or dparish@agcenter.lsu.edu  

Writer: Johnny Morgan at (225) 578-8484 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

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