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Special AFE session on botrytis and thrips at Proflora

AFE had the full attention of the large crowd of growers, importers, wholesalers and retailers gathered at Proflora 2017, which was held from October 4 – 6 in Bogota, Colombia.

by Katie Hendrick

Thanks to Asocolflores for arranging a special education session on October 5, AFE-sponsored researchers presented reports on their latest research on Botrytis and thrips.

These pests render flowers unsellable, and cause significant financial losses for all segments of the industry.

A crowd of about 50 people were anticipated to attend, but more than 160 industry professionals showed up.

"To say there is interest in thrips and Botrytis control is a gross understatement," said AFE Research Coordinator Terril Nell, Ph.D.

"Growers spend a great deal of money dealing with Botrytis and thrips, but their efforts don’t work well because these pests are resistant to the many pesticides currently available," he said.

To tackle the problem, AFE has launched a thrips and Botrytis research campaign to raise $1.5 million in funding for research projects that help control and manage these pests.

So far, more than 10 importers and growers have signed on pledging nearly $600,000.

Melissa Muñoz

"We're almost halfway to our goal, so we need additional members of the industry to step up and help us," said Nell.

AFE is investing in scientists who've studied the same diseases in different crops, including fruit and potted plants.

"We're seeing rapid advancements by recruiting nontraditional researchers who already have a background and experience with Botrytis and thrips. We've just had to take them out of their comfort zones — their offices and labs — and bring them to flower farms," he said.

Among those researchers:
  • Rose Buitenhuis of The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Lincoln, Ontario
  • Melissa Muñoz Agudelo, a member of the research team led by Jim Faust and Guido Schnabel at Clemson University in South Carolina
They spent a day visiting growers before leading the packed session, where they discussed emerging pest control techniques such as dipping cuttings in biological solutions, and how environmental factors, including temperature, humidity, leaf wetness and nutrition contribute to thrips and Botrytis problems in commercial flower operations.

Rose Buitenhuis visiting growers in Colombia

Dr. Nell welcomes the opportunity to talk to members of the industry about these challenges.

"AFE's goal is to have real solutions to these issues within the next three to five years by funding multiple projects each year, but we need more support," he said.

Read more about the research and campaign, and see the Proflora presentations, at

For more information
American Floral Endowment
T: +1 (703) 838-5211
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