arrived on time and were from much healthier stock plants. The biggest improvement is with the improved skills of the propagators who covered every little detail to come up with the best procedures to have healthy, strongly rooted cuttings – especially from the rooting stations. In addition to all of this the excellent fall weather helped in having the best poinsettia crop ever. The crop ended up: • Earlier than normal due to a cool September at bud set time and the higher solar energy. • Featuring larger than normal bracts and plants. • With lower than usual heating costs. • With minimal shrinkage, if any. There were negligible disease pressures, except for the few operations that had a Fusarium fungus that was identified later on in the production cycle. For the first time, a few poinsettia plantings got infected with Fusarium . This is strange because the same lots of cuttings were planted in different locations; one lot got the fungus and others did not. It is not really clear what caused the problem, but it is important to watch for: • Bract edge burn. • No Botrytis . • And if the plants were ordered for a reasonable sale time there was very little shrinkage in the stores. VARIETIES IN THE SPOTLIGHT Few new poinsettia varieties are going to be in production for 2018. Trial the new varieties to decide if you should add them to your product line, and if you do, remember to drop your least desirable variety. Varieties that are good for 5” pots are not necessarily good for 10” containers, or at least you need to modify the production schedule drastically to use the same variety for every size. Read the variety specs and try it in the new sizes. Red poinsettias are at least 93 per cent of the total colours, with four per cent white, two per cent are pink, and the rest are in the miscellaneous category. Regardless of which variety you grow, don’t overfill the pot with planting media. It should be just below the pot rim – not flush with the rim. This gives retailers and homeowners a reservoir to be able to water the plants effectively. Two seasons ago a study group of growers and educators met once a month starting in June to discuss production issues. The main focus has been on whitefly control. Next season, we are going to do the same thing but with more topics. COMMON PROBLEMS Insects: Whitefly is the major pest in poinsettia. The greater use of targeted biological control, cleaner stock cuttings and the dip treatment of cuttings before sticking have combined to keep the problem under control the past few years. Infestations can be brought in from other plants from the outside that you are storing for the winter. Diseases: Diseases were no issue last season. This was largely due to the good weather, great cultivars and by growers paying closer attention to cultural practices. There were no problems at all – even without the use of any fungicides, biological or chemical. The exceptions were those greenhouses where Fusarium was a problem. PHYSIOLOGICAL DISORDERS Among my customers, I noticed heat delay in couple spots because of heat valve malfunctioning. At another location, a single light bulb over a walkway kept a 50-foot circle of plants green for a time; however the problem was corrected in time and the crop was shipped just before Christmas! IN SUMMARY • Grow varieties you are familiar with and try new ones on a small scale. • Calculate your costs for any required specs and do not forget about packaging and shipping. • Take an order when there is still some margin profit and not just dollar sales. • Never grow on pure speculation. • Having to buy plants when you run out of plants at the end of the season is a good indication you are making progress on profitability. • Do not cheat on what the crop needs to grow properly – it will cost you much more at the end if you do. • Start a study group with growers in your region. • And last, but not least, if all the factors that took place last season are repeated this year, then growing poinsettia could be profitable. This is not a suggestion to increase production because increasing production without booked orders will lead to price-cutting. February 2018 -GREENHOUSE CANADA 17 Bred and selected for Proﬁ table Poinsettias Strong, well-shaped poinsettias in the greenhouse. Strong roots hold up to all greenhouse watering methods, resulting in lower shrink and higher yields . selectanorthamerica.com ©2016 ©2016 Ball Ball Horticultural Horticultural Company16586-A Company16586-A-GC Visit Visit selectanorthamerica.com selectanorthamerica.com for for current current Terms Terms & & Conditions Conditions of of Sale. Sale.