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Posted:  11 Sep 2013 19:12  
I'm looking for any help to a recurring problem.

When we get plant shipments from Florida, many times Goldstars, Janet Craigs, Limelights, Jumbos, and occasionally Mass Canes come down with something I call the black plauge.

It happens about a week after arrival--lower leaves start to develop black lesions with yellowing, eventually having to remove the whole leaf.  It then spreads to the stem and runs rampant throughout the whole plant.  If brought out to the field on install, some of these plants will eventally just turn black throughout and the stems rot and fall over.

We've tried treating them with a broad spectrum fungicide, Phyton (bactricide), changing their environment, more light, less light, more water, less water...everything.  Nothing seems to work.

I've contacted our growers that this happens with (more than 1) and unfortunately, they have been little help, other than suggesting what we've already tried.

Sometimes, these losses are devestating--12 10" Janets gone within a few weeks after arrival.

I'm beginning to suspect is the nurseries themselves--maybe bad practices--trimming leaves with unclean scissors, for instance, or watering right before shipment with the plants coming down with the disease or bacteria en route to our warehouse.

Any suggestions?  Over the years, its happened with different nurseries we've used on different draceanas; but always draceanas.

Thanks for your help!
Posted:  12 Sep 2013 00:24  
Virtually every tropical foliage plant produced in Florida harbors some or other complement of bacterial and/or fungal disease organisms on it or in its system.  But don't blame the growers, blame Mother Nature...just as with humans and other animals, plants are not born immune from all pest and disease organisms, but they can often live happily in the company of same as long as they are otherwise healthy and environmental conditions and stress factors are under control.

I think you partially answered your own question when you suggested that "something" is happening en route from Florida to your facility, but it's not necessarily dirty shears.  A plant that is watered prior to shipment is going to sit in the dark in a refrigerated trailer for several days, with minimal air circulation.  This in itself subjects the plant to stresses that it was not accustomed to in its idyllic tropical paradise at the nursery in Florida.  And sometimes the conditions at the nursery just prior to shipping are not so great, either...prolonged periods of heavy, soaking rains, overcast days, unseasonably cold weather, etc. can all contribute to the stress load on the plants.

The best strategy is to plan well.  Try to order your plants several weeks ahead of the scheduled installation date (2 weeks minimum) so they will be able to recover from the shipping experience prior to going out on a job.  This will allow you to do various things to the plants that should not be done at the time of installation: unpotting to inspect roots, repotting into subirrigation if desired, inspection for pests and other damage, etc.  This will also give the roots a chance to dry down before they go into sub-optimal lighting on the account.

Hope that helps.  Sometimes you lose a few plants...it's part of the business.  But if you're rushing the plants to your facility and then rushing them right off the trailer and onto your delivery truck to be installed, well, that's an unreasonably ambitious and optimistic strategy.
Posted:  20 Sep 2013 16:26  
Thanks Clem,

Sorry for the late reply.  Always good advice from you.

I do understand we will all lose plants from time to time, I'm just trying to keep it from a minimum, and it helps to know that I'm not the only owner that experiences this.

I tried calling Phyton tech support direct, and they were very helpful.  They recommended a "sprench", which is exactly what it sounds like, a spray so thorough that it drips off and leeches into the soil for a systemic approach.

I've tried treating our recent shipment for 3 weeks this way with Phyton 35..It does seem to be having an effect.  It looks as if the rot is abated, but I can't be sure until another month or so.

We've been growing so quickly sometimes we can't keep foliage on hand to acclimate it, many times it goes out the door a week after it arrives here, and we just deal with any gnat/disease/whatever problems afterwards.

I'll try to anticipate the losses and bring material in earlier in order to acclimate it better.

Thanks again
Posted:  20 Sep 2013 16:39  
I feel your pain.  We do a pretty sizable wholesale business in foliage, so we generally have a lot of inventory of most of the staples for interiorscapes, so I'm able to use well-acclimated stuff for the vast majority of installs and replacements.  Consequently, we don't have as much trouble with pests and diseases as folks who bring in small quantities on an as-needed basis with tight deadlines.  That said, you might want to try to schedule your installs two weeks out if at all possible...this would give you enough time to scout for problems and give the plants time to recuperate from the stress of shipping.  If you could hold the plants in conditions similar to what they will experience on the account, that's even better (i.e., warehouse vs. greenhouse).  And it doesn't hurt to apply nematodes or Bt to the soil to stave off fungus gnat infestations that are endemic at some times of the year with Florida foliage.  Saves a lot of client angst and panicked phone calls later on.
Posted:  29 Jan 2014 13:01   Last Edited By: admin 
It doesn't hurt to apply nematodes or Bt to the soil to stave off fungus gnat infestations that are endemic at some times of the year with Florida foliage.  It looks as if the rot is abated, but I can't be sure until another month or so.

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