Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Winter Preparation for Spring Success

Greetings, my name is Michael Sellars, I am the new production manager for the container division at Loma Vista Nursery.  I have passionately been in the nursery business for the greater part of my adult life, a container grower of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals for 15 years in Oklahoma, more recently in the Kansas City area. I am excited by the opportunity and proud to be part of a successful team at Loma Vista Nursery.

We draw to a close another growing season in the Midwest. There are many key procedures for winter preparation for our plants that facilitate a successful spring container crop.

Main factors that transition plants into dormancy is the combination of temperature and length of daylight hours. As this transformation occurs, fall cultural practices preceding dormancy will ensure healthy, viable plants for the coming season.

First and foremost, a healthy plant has the best chance to survive the winter.  We have a widespread nutrition program at the nursery to promote plant health, which includes soil incorporated time-released, liquid drench and foliar applied fertilizers.  The objective is to reduce the amount of available nitrogen to the roots of the plant by correctly slowing the release of fertilizer, along with the reduction of heavy irrigation a few weeks prior to the first frost. New flushes of growth during this period will not harden off sufficiently and will be damaged by freezing temperatures. 

Irrigation, as mentioned, can be challenging in the fall. Plants must have enough water to lightly saturate the entire root ball, while avoiding standing water in the bottom of the container which can promote soil borne pathogens and root disease. On the other hand, plants that go into winter under dry conditions have a greatly increased chance for failure from desiccation or drying out. Landscape and nursery plant material must have available water both prior to and following a hard freeze.  Transpiration continues throughout the winter and without available water plants will have a difficult time surviving.

Exposure to wind and intense direct sunlight on a cold day can also be extremely detrimental to plants during the winter months though desiccation. Loma Vista has embarked on a large scale project this fall by constructing an additional 160 temporary cold frame structures (18,000 linear ft.), which when covered with white plastic, will provide protection to our shrubs from these elements.

These are but a few practices that we employ, carried out by our conscientious staff, to bring the very best quality trees and shrubs to the marketplace. We look forward to a continued and successful relationship over the coming months and years.

Thank you.

Mike Sellars, Production Manager, Loma Vista Nursery

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