Johnny Morgan, Fontenot, Kathryn, Owings, Allen D.
HAMMOND, La. –The landscape horticulture field day at the Hammond Research Station on Oct. 8 featured a diversity of activity and allowed the staff to show off some of the latest plants being grown.
Again this year, the Southeast Louisiana Nursery Association trade show was held in conjunction with the field day, which added an even greater boost in the interest.
AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings, resident coordinator at the station, said this was the highest attended field day/trade show they have had.
“We had a record 335 people here today, and they are learning about the many fascinating projects being conducted at the station,” Owings said.
“Until last year, the landscape field day was held in October, and the SELNA Trade Show was also held in October, so we decided to combine our efforts. And the results are impressive,” Owings said.
In addition to the updates on traditional plants, this year’s event featured new items being studied, such as olives, figs and tea.
LSU AgCenter horticulturist Yan Chen, one of the presenters during the care and maintenance tour, told the group that tea is a $10 billion wholesale market in the United States.
Other AgCenter professionals on the tour included entomologists Dennis Ring, Zinan Wang and Rodrigo Diaz; AgCenter “Plant Doctor” Raj Singh, plant scientist Jeff Beasley and weed specialist Ron Strahan.
LSU AgCenter instructor Jason Stagg and horticulturists Charlie Johnson and Ed Bush gave updates on specialty crops, nursery irrigation and vegetable varieties.
AgCenter gardening specialist Kiki Fontenot provided vegetable gardening information to participants because some are home gardeners who can’t find many of the plants often discussed at AgCenter events.
“These are not typical vegetable growers, but they are interested in some of the work we’re doing at Burden, and I want them to know where they can find the plants that we talk about without having to start them from seed,” Fontenot said.
Gardeners want to buy seedlings that are ready to go in March rather than planting their own seeds in January, she said.
Stagg has just began work with olives but says the AgCenter has been receiving lots of questions about them. Nurseries also are interested in propagating olives.
Owings led the sun garden tour, where participants were able to get a sneak peek at the new bedding plant varieties for 2016.
“We also looked at some of the varieties that the commercial landscapers use in large numbers in Louisiana,” Owings said. “We want to show the good and bad of the different varieties, and to let them know some of the cultural practices that can be used to overcome the problems.”
Attendees included nursery growers, retail garden center staff, government representatives and the commercial landscaping industry representing about five states, Owings said.
The Hammond Research Station is unique because of the research being done by observing rare plants to see how well they will do in the south Louisiana climate, he said.
The Hammond Research Station is open to the public and is located at 21549 Old Covington Highway, just off U.S. Highway 190.