Horticulture Spring Seminar Schedule

311 Latham Hall, 4-5pm every Tuesday

 Date Presenter Seminar Title
Feb. 06 Danyang Liu Optimizing anaerobic soil disinfestation for Virginia strawberry production
Feb. 13 TBA TBA
Feb. 20 Cody Wyatt Kiefer The role of forest structure on rainfall capture in urban forest systems
Feb. 27 Tej Prasad Acharya Water requirement and use efficiency in Brussel production under rowocover in comparison to open field condition
Mar. 6 Dr. Sherif M. Sherif (HORT) Research strategies for maximizing the production and profitability of fruit crops in Virginia
Mar. 13 Dr. Song Li(CSES) Predicting regulatory networks in plant development and stress responses using machine learning
Mar. 20 Zhibo Wang Xanthomonas euvescatora triggered distinct immunity on host and nonhost plants
Mar. 27 Dr. Aure Bombarely (HORT) Genome Evolution and Phenotypic Diversity during Plant Domestication using Ornamental Crops as Study Models
Apr. 03 Kunru Wang Phytotoxin has a key role to help Acidovarax citrlli colonize on leaf surface of watermelon plants
Apr. 10 Barslund Judd Characterization of Nutrient Deficiencies and Foliar Nutrient Sufficiency Ranges in Hops
Apr. 17 Dr. Bin Xu (NAU) Extending leaf greenness period for better turf and forage grasses
Apr. 24 Fran de la Mota Water Fluxes in Soil-Pavement Systems: Integrating Trees, Soils and Infrastructure

February Events

Thursday, February 22nd
The Roy E. Blaser Distinguished Lecture
4:30pm – Inn at Virginia Tech in Assembly Hall

Dr. Jan Low will be the speaker and the title of her talk is Building the Evidence and New Methods to Make Biofortified Sweetpotato Viable in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Low is currently a principal scientist with the International Potato Center (CIP), based in their regional office for Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.  She manages the Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) project and co-leads the Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative (SPHI) with the director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).  In 2016, along with two other CIP sweetpotato breeders and Dr. Howarth Bouis of HarvestPlus, Dr. Low was awarded the World Food Prize for her work on biofortification.

Reception following the Blaser Lecture
Approximately 5:30pm – Inn at Virginia Tech in Solitude

Will include heavy appetizers and a cash bar (one drink ticket per person will be provided on behalf of SPES)


Friday, February 23rd
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences Graduate Student Research Symposium
10am-noon in the Graduate Life Center’s Multipurpose Room
The three departments which will soon be the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences (SPES), will be hosting a Graduate Student Research Symposium. Graduate students from the three departments will showcase their research through a poster presentation. Light breakfast foods and refreshments will be available.

We hope you can join us for some or all of these events!
Please RSVP by clicking on this short survey:   https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_d5YifHxqLNqub4N.

Job Posting: Assistant Farm Manager, Dining Services Farm

The Dining Services Farm at Kentland Farm is a farm-to-campus program at Virginia Tech that provides hands-on education for students and produces vegetables, fruit, and herbs on six acres for campus dining centers.  The Assistant Farm Manager will provide technical support in crop production at the Dining Services Farm and in a high tunnel at the Urban Horticulture Center.  This position will also be responsible for managing a pilot hydroponic project located in Owens Dining Hall.  This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to a unique and growing program that advances the sustainability of the food and farming system of Virginia Tech and the surrounding community.  Please follow the link below for more details of the position responsibilities and qualifications, and to apply.



PhD seminar: Feb. 10th at 1pm, 403 Saunders

Mara Grossman will present a seminar on her PhD dissertation research “Controlling Growth in Echinacea Hybrids” (nursery/greenhouse container production)  in advance of her defense:  Friday, Feb. 10th  at 1:00 p.m., 403 Saunders. Seminar is open to faculty, staff, grad students, and undergrad students.


New hybrid Echinacea cultivars, based on crosses of Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench with several other Echinacea species, have generated interest and excitement in the marketplace due to novel flower colors and forms. However, these cultivars vary significantly in their growth habits and requirements from the species. We examined factors in the production of Echinacea hybrid cultivars to provide guidance to growers. Foliar sprays 600 mg·L-1 benzyladenine (BA) increased branches in Echinacea cultivars while 400 mg·L-1 dikegulac sodium or 500 mg·L-1 ethephon did not improve branching. Of several height control PGRs applied to E. ‘Marmalade,’ only two applications of 5000 mg·L-1 daminozide reduced height although flowering was also reduced. Echinacea ‘Harvest Moon,’ had decreased height in response to all of the PGRs applied, with the best results seen in plants treated with foliar sprays of uniconazole (1 application of 30 mg·L-1 or two applications of 15 mg·L-1 ), two applications of 5000 mg·L-1 daminozide, or 4 mg·L-1 paclobutrazol applied once as a drench. Supplying N at 150 mg·l-1 during the growing season provided Echinacea cultivars adequate nutrition and maximized number of branches, flowers and shoot dry weight. In overwintering, fertilization treatments that resulted in low substrate electrical conductivity going into dormancy resulted in the highest survival rates of Echinacea cultivars. As a monitoring tool, SPAD measurements were not successful in predicting tissue N levels in Echinacea hybrids. Twenty-one hybrid cultivars acquired as stage 3 tissue culture plantlets were grown under one of three photoperiods (10-hour, 16-hour, and 24-hour) for ten weeks before being transplanted to larger containers and grown under natural daylength until flowering. Providing Echinacea hybrid cultivars with a 16-hour photoperiod during liner production resulted in plants which flowered soonest without negative effects on growth. The need for height control PGRs varied by cultivar; however, overall height control PGRs reduced flower stalk height and increased market rating.

Research Seminar February 3 at 10am in 403 Saunders

Mr. Brycen Hill, MSc GRA, Department of Horticulture and AHS Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center, will present a seminar on his MSc thesis research in advance of his defense at 10:00 am on February 3, 2017. The seminar is open to faculty, staff and students and will be held in room 403 Saunders.   The seminar is entitled:  “Root restriction, under-trellis cover cropping, and rootstock modify vine size and berry composition of Cabernet Sauvignon”

Hort Grad Students Give Back during VT Big Event

The Horticulture Graduate Students a.k.a. “The Happy Hort Grad Helpers” led by Rachel Layman used their horticulture expertise to help a local couple prepare a new vegetable garden. Participants included Julio Bonet Gigante (VBI), Nan Lu (Plant Molecular Sciences), Norma Manrique, Juan Jairo Ruiz-Rojas, Linda Taylor, and Sarah Dickinson (faculty).