Landscape News

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Plants Grown with Mycorrhizae Shine at Retail and in the Landscape

The many benefits that mycorrhizal fungi provide to plants are extremely well documented.  In fact, mycorrhizal fungi have been called the most researched soil organisms in the world, with scholarly journal articles and published trials from countries around the globe numbering in the tens of thousands.  These symbiotic organisms have been relied upon for successful reforestation and restoration projects for decades.  In agriculture, mycorrhizal fungi are partnering with plants in symbiosis to contribute to sustainably feeding our growing global population, even in drought affected areas, salty soils, desertified farmland, etc.

Professional horticulturists, including greenhouse and nursery growers, can also experience the benefits of mycorrhizae in their own growing protocols.  However, these benefits can sometimes be harder to demonstrate in horticultural circumstances, since plants are less likely to experience stress in a greenhouse or nursery, as the growers are giving them everything that they should need to thrive, including plenty of water and nutrients.  Most ornamental plants will show some additional growth as well as improved root structure and plant habit when inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi, even within the short turnaround time that greenhouse or nursery growers will have their plants in production.  However, when comparing mycorrhizal treated plants with non-treated controls in the greenhouse, these differences may not always look like they will impact the bottom-line.  But, as soon as these treated plants leave the grower, this is where the benefits of mycorrhizal inoculation really begin to shine, and these benefits positively reflect back to the grower.

Increase Plant Resilience in Transport and Retail:

Ornamental plants are delicate beauties.  They are babied from the time of propagation, and ideally, are provided with the perfect environment to optimize growth and development.  Before heading out into the world for retail sale or landscape installation, they will certainly be watered to prepare for the journey, but this may be the last water they see until reaching their destination.  The stress of being packed into a dark truck on crowded racks, with the potential for extreme heat or cold and little or no air movement, may be their first shock and can have an impact on how they look on the retail shelf.

Then, once they make it to the garden center, box store, etc., they are handed off to a new situation and staff who may or may not be capable of continuing to providing those ideal conditions that the plants had become accustomed to.  The heat and drought of a retail situation can cause a good deal of plant wilt, blossom and foliage damage, and even mortality, making them less and less likely to be chosen by a homeowner or landscaper off the shelf.  This is where the inoculated plants really start to stand out, as they are more resilient and will resist wilt for 24-48 hours longer than untreated plants, and will recover from wilt much more quickly once the staff gets the chance to make the rounds.  This means higher sell-through for “pay by scan” growers, and fewer dumped or discounted plants, which is a good thing for everyone in the pipeline.  For the grower retailer, mycorrhizal inoculation means that your plants will look better in the shop, survive longer on the shelf, and ultimately improve the customer experience with your brand, as end-users will experience less transplant shock, less mortality, and greater overall success and satisfaction with your mycorrhizae inoculated plants.  Also, any retailer that has a plant guarantee will see less loss at transplant and fewer returned plants, which reduces the costs for the retailer and grower of guaranteed plants.

Benefits to Home Gardeners and Landscapers:

The benefits of mycorrhizal fungi to plant resilience, longevity, vitality, and overall performance are passed along from the grower to the end-user, whether it happens to be a home gardener or landscaper.  Home gardeners, especially inexperienced “casual” gardeners, will have more success in the garden with less effort, leading to return trips to the retailer and additional purchases.  And this is good for the grower and retailer as well, because when home gardeners have success, they will likely return to that same nursery or retailer for more of those “good” plants that they had so much success with.  The same concept applies to landscape professionals, who will certainly return to the source of those resilient, hearty plants that they only had to plant once, rather than having to return to a site to replace plants that didn’t successfully take root and survive in outplanting.  Plus, the landscaper’s customers will be happier, as their plants will be more sustainable, lower maintenance, and require fewer inputs such as water and nutrients to survive and thrive.

How Soon Will You See the Benefits?

The general benchmark is that it may take as long as 8 weeks to see a visible difference between mycorrhizal inoculated plants and untreated control plants, however, this varies quite a bit from species to species, with some plants showing significant differences as soon as 2-3 weeks after treatment.  As a plant producer, you will see bigger benefits of mycorrhizal inoculation if you also reduce your nutrient inputs when inoculating with mycorrhizal fungi.  This not only offers the immediate benefit of offsetting some of the costs of the mycorrhizal product, but it also leads to quicker and more effective colonization of the root zone, since plants who are over-fertilized will send out fewer root exudates to trigger the germination of the mycorrhizal propagules.  We recommend cutting back on fertilizer by around 30-40% when inoculating with mycorrhizal products like MycoApply, in order to maximize the return on investment, and reap the full rewards of the symbiosis.

Also, the earlier in the plant’s life cycle that you can inoculate the roots, the better.  If the grower can include mycorrhizal inoculants in the growing media at plug stage, or drench the propagation trays in a mycorrhizal slurry, this is the most cost-effective method, and can provide the plant with this symbiotic support for the rest of its life.  The basic guideline is this: the smaller the plant at the time of inoculation, the less product you will need to achieve mycorrhizal colonization.  Simple, right?  When inoculating at propagation stage, the cost can be as low as $0.03 to $0.04 cents per plug tray!

For a landscaper, or a retailer who does landscape installation, inoculation at plug stage may not be possible, however, these products work very well in transplanting as well.  Mycorrhizal Applications offers MycoApply products in powder formulations (such as MycoApply Ultrafine Endo), which can be drenched or applied directly as a powder to root balls during transplant, as well as granular formulations (such as MycoApply Endo), which can be applied around the exposed roots and incorporated into transplant backfill.  No matter the stage of the plant’s lifecycle, any time you can get the mycorrhizal propagules into contact with the growing roots, you can kick-off the symbiotic colonization process.

Where can I find these products and learn more about how to use them?

MycoApply professional mycorrhizal inoculants are available through many nationwide distributors.  The best way to determine where you can get your hands on some to try in your own greenhouse or nursery is to contact Mycorrhizal Applications, who can then point you towards a distributor in your region.  Their information is available online at www.mycorrhizae.com, or you can reach one of their helpful, friendly, and passionate sales staff by calling (541) 476-3985 or emailing inquiries@mycorrhizae.com.  They also have access to a library of research and resources about how to utilize this technology, so feel free to reach out with any mycorrhizal questions that could help you maximize your success.

© 2017, by Mycorrhizal Applications LLC


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Actinovate Biological Fungicides – A Powerful and Versatile Tool

Actinovate biological fungicides offer growers and home gardeners a very powerful and versatile Organic (OMRI Listed) tool to control fungal pathogens.  Actinovate works just like other biological controls (the classic example of a biological control is the use of ladybugs to control aphids), only the organisms in Actinovate act on a microscopic level.  Actinovate uses a natural enemy of fungal pathogens to keep these pathogens from destroying your crops.  This natural enemy is a beneficial bacteria called Streptomyces lydicus WYEC 108, which is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that was originally isolated from the roots of a linseed plant in England, and patented worldwide.  Actinovate is effective and versatile, utilized both indoors and outdoors, in markets including greenhouse, nursery, landscaping, turf, and homeowners.

How does Actinovate protect against fungal pathogens?

Actinovate can be utilized to combat fungal soil diseases, as well as foliar diseases.  The organism within Actinovate colonizes plant structures in a beneficial symbiotic manner, when introduced into the root zone or applied to foliage.  The Streptomyces lydicus spores germinate and form a mutually beneficial relationship within the rhizosphere of plants by feeding off the plant’s waste and secreting beneficial byproducts, such as Chitinase to break down fungal walls, byproducts that kill or repel other microbes, and iron carriers to starve competing microbes.  Essentially, the S. lydicus feeds off the root’s secretions, and discharges toxins that keep other microbes (including pathogens) out.  This assortment of byproducts and toxins discharged by S. lydicus means that Actinovate utilizes several modes of anti-fungal action to protect plants, lawns, and gardens from pathogens, rather than relying on a single mode of action as many other fungicides do.

What pathogens can Actinovate help control against?

Similar to a probiotic used to keep our own digestive systems in healthy balance, Actinovate works within the root zone microbiome to keep the system healthy and in-balance.  Actinovate can be used on annual and perennial bedding plants and flowers, roses, potted flowers, foliage plants, trees, shrubs, and lawns located in homes, greenhouses, and home landscapes, as well as fruits including tree fruits, berries, and melons, nuts including a wide variety of tree nuts, and vegetables including leafy vegetables, root crops, cole crops, peppers, and tomatoes.

Actinovate’s S. lydicus organism will actively control against several common soil pathogens, such as Damping Off Fungus, Root Rot, Turf Brown Patch, Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Phytophthora, Fusarium, Verticillium, Sclerotinia, and many others.

In foliar applications, Actinovate will suppress Downy Mildew, Gray Mold, Powdery Mildew, Botrytus, Phytomatotricum, Sclerotinia, Alternaria, and more.

When should Actinovate be applied?

As with most biological controls, it is best to use Actinovate as a preventative tool, rather than curative treatment.  For best results, apply Actinovate as early as possible to the plant’s root system, and reapply every 2-12 weeks as needed.  In foliar applications, it is best to apply prior to disease development, or at the first signs of pathogen infection, and repeat at 7-14 day intervals to protect new foliage.

Actinovate is relatively safe when compared with many other fungicides, though caution is advised when using any pesticide.  Please read the label thoroughly for all precautionary statements and PPE requirements.  When sprayed onto foliage or used in chemigation via sprinkler or other spray irrigation, the re-entry period is only one hour, or once the solution has dried.  Actinovate can be applied up to and including the day of harvest, so the pre-harvest interval is not a concern.  Always clean application equipment prior to use of this product, and use the prepared Actinovate solution within 4 hours of preparation.

How can Growers and Gardeners apply Actinovate?

Actinovate is a soluble powder which can be added to water to create a solution and then applied to the plant’s root zone or foliage using the applications below.

For rhizosphere, or root-zone applications, the soil drench should contain 4-6 ounces of Actinovate per 100 gallons of water (1 teaspoon per 2 gallons of water for smaller quantities).  This solution can be watered into damp soils, applied to pots, base of plants, root balls, or applied to the root zone by watering the substrate with Actinovate solution until the soil is completely saturated without creating runoff (generally 1 gallon of solution per cubic foot of substrate).  In greenhouses and nurseries, Actinovate can be applied to the root zone via drip or flood chemigation using the rate of 1-12 ounces of Actinovate per 10-200 gallons of water, depending on desired application.  For soil chemigation, apply the solution only through pressurized drench (flood) or drip (trickle) systems, micro irrigation such as spaghetti tube or individual tube irrigation, hand-held calibrated irrigation equipment such as hand-held wand with injector, or ebb and flow systems.

For foliar applications, dissolve 6-12 ounces of Actinovate into 50-100 gallons of water.  Growers or gardeners can use a pump bottle, hand-held pump, backpack, or similar spray equipment to spray leaves, stems, and new shoots to wet, but not quite to run-off, providing complete coverage of the entire plant.  In greenhouses and nurseries, Actinovate can be applied to the foliage via chemigation using the rate of 1-12 ounces of Actinovate per 10-200 gallons of water, depending on desired application.  For foliar chemigation, apply the solution only through overhead boom and mist-type systems or sprinklers such as impact or micro-sprinklers.  For best results in foliar applications, use a non-ionic spreader-sticker in conjunction with Actinovate application.

Always refer to product label for complete instructions, precautions, safety, and storage and handling before use.

Can Actinovate be part of an IPM program?

Actinovate is a great addition to any Integrated Pest Management program, and can be used safely and effectively alongside beneficial fungi, such as mycorrhizal inoculant products.  Actinovate can also be used safely and effectively alongside a rotation of traditional fungicides.  Also, Actinovate does not need to be rotated, and can be used year-after-year, season-after-season, as unlike other fungicides, there are no pathogen resistance issues caused by prolonged or repeated use of biological solutions such as S. lydicus.  Actinovate is OMRI-Listed as an organic input, therefore, it is a great resource for organic growers and gardeners for organic control of fungal pathogens.  Additionally, Actinovate is Pollinator Safe, as trials have shown that exposure to Actinovate had no adverse effects on honeybees.

What Actinovate products are available for Professional Growers and Home Gardeners?

Actinovate is a proven technology that has been utilized by growers, farmers, landscapers, turf managers, and home gardeners with confirmed success for many years.  Professional growers, turf managers, and landscapers can utilize Actinovate SP for nursery and greenhouse applications.  Actinovate SP is available in 18 oz. packages, and has a 6-month shelf life.  Home Gardeners and Lawn and Garden professionals can utilize Actinovate Lawn and Garden, which is available in 18 oz. packages, 2 oz. packages, and 0.7 oz. packages, and also has a shelf life of 6 months.

Where can I find these products and learn more about how to use them?

These Actinovate biological fungicides for Professional Growers and Home Gardeners are available through distributors in the US and Canada.  The best way to determine where you can get your hands on Actinovate SP or Actinovate Lawn and Garden to try in your own greenhouse or nursery, or home lawn and garden, is to contact your local distributor.  If you have problems locating a distributor or need further information, contact Mycorrhizal Applications, who can point you towards a distributor in your region.  Their information is available online at www.mycorrhizae.com, or you can reach the Mycorrhizal Applications sales staff by calling (541) 476-3985 or emailing inquiries@mycorrhizae.com.

© 2017, by Mycorrhizal Applications LLC