(08/27/19) HAMMOND, La. — Despite what started out as a potential washout, the annual horticulture field day at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station on Aug. 23 gave participants the opportunity to enjoy a reprieve from the heat under overcast skies without rain until the end of the program.
The annual field day is presented to provide information exclusively for professional horticulture industry personnel.
The field day opened with a welcome from Bill Richardson, AgCenter vice president of agriculture, who introduced Mike Salassi as the future replacement for Rogers Leonard as the associate vice president for plant and animal programs.
Leonard will retire in February, and Salassi will shadow him until that time before he takes over the position.
The field day offered an opportunity to learn about research projects, Louisiana Super Plants and Plants with Potential, said Jeb Fields, AgCenter commercial horticulture specialist.
Topics on the program included sustainable nursery production practices, new ornamental diseases and pests, weed control in turf and landscapes, and new developments in landscape plant growth regulators.
The participants began their day by touring the sun garden and viewing plants that were considered to be doing well since summer as well as pollinator plants.
“In past years, we had the specialists lead the garden tours, but this year we provided more self-guided tours where the participants could take their time looking over the gardens,” Fields said.
Participants heard the latest on landscape management, Louisiana Super Plants, pest issues, and vegetable and specialty crops.
AgCenter horticulture researcher Yan Chen provided information on her work with plant growth regulators.
“We’re working with a company that is developing a new product called Trimtect, which can be used at lower rates, which reduces cost,” she said.
It is important to reduce costs for landscape companies because they typically have to trim certain plants on a schedule, similar to mowing turf, she said.
Gene Cavalier, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry agriculture specialist, discussed the Boar Buster hog trap to help control feral hogs.
“We want people to know that hogs are not just a rural problem anymore,” Cavalier said. “They are now causing damage on golf courses, state parks and soccer fields.”
A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant allows Cavalier to attend field days and provide information on best management practices for the control of feral hogs.
Grace Vogel, a landscape architect and city planner with the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board, said she finds the latest in horticultural information whenever she attends the annual field day.
“It’s just amazing how they’ve recovered from the flood of 2016 and how they have worked with what they have and what they continue to do out here,” she said about the Hammond station. “Also, I have to see that heritage oak at the entrance every time I come over here.”
During the guided tours, AgCenter horticulturist Jason Stagg answered questions about Plants with Potential and the ornamental plant trials.
Others answering questions included Fields, who discussed nursery crops, Louisiana Super Plants and the trial gardens.
AgCenter weed specialist Ron Strahan discussed turf management and weeds in the landscape.
During the walking tour, Stagg and Strahan discussed prairie grasses being studied at the station.
Also during the walking tour, Fields discussed the work he’s doing with soilless media. He hopes to show how well plants grow without the use of soil.
In addition to the knowledge gained at the field day, the participants were eligible to receive continuing education credits.
LSU AgCenter commercial horticulture specialist Jeb Fields discusses Louisiana Super Plants at the Hammond landscape field day on Aug. 23. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter horticulturist Jason Stagg leads a walking tour during the Hammond landscape field day on Aug. 23.Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter weed scientist Ron Strahan holds a pot containing weeds at the Hammond landscape field day on Aug. 23. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter