84 Kathleen Baughman – Nurseries and Pollinators


Speaker 1: From the Oregon State University Extension Service, this is Pollination, a podcast that tells the stories of researchers, land managers, and concerned citizens making bold strides to improve the health of pollinators.

I'm your host, Dr. Adoni Melopoulos, assistant professor in pollinator health in the Department of Horticulture. Temperatures are warming up here in western Oregon, so it's time to start thinking about your gardens. So for the next few episodes, we're going to be talking about gardens, starting this week with Kathleen Bauman, who is the integrated pest management and operations manager for Iwasaki Brothers Nursery in Hillsborough, Oregon. Now if you remember from a previous episode with Sarah Kincaid, we have a program here in Oregon called the Oregon Bee Project Flagship Farm Program that highlights innovators in pollinator health, and Iwasaki Brothers is one of those innovators. So in this episode, you're going to hear about the important role that Oregon nurseries can play in promoting pollinator plants to the public, but also some of the challenges in propagating and growing those plants. And speaking of pollinators and gardens, I want to remind everybody that on Saturday, March 2nd, in Albany, Oregon, there's going to be our annual Beevent Pollinator Conference. This is a great opportunity for people who are interested in gardens and plants to get together. There are some great speakers, including David James from Washington State University, Rich Hatfield from the Xerces Society, and Gail Angolato here from OSU.

Check the show notes for details on how to register. Hope you enjoy the episode. Kathleen, welcome to Pollination.

Thanks, Anthony. I'm really glad to have you on. We've had a lot of conversations over the last year or so, and I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about nurseries and pollinators. Absolutely.

Speaker 2: We're also enjoying learning a lot from you guys as well.

Speaker 1: So I guess the first thing is, I'm sure people are dying to know, tell us about some of the plants that attract pollinators. What are some of your personal favorites, and what are some of the plants that are really hot in the nursery these days people want for pollinators?

Speaker 2: Well, that's a really great question. It's hard to choose because here at Wasaki Brothers, we grow over 275 different species of plants. My goodness.

Speaker 1: Do they all have names? They all have names. We actually are supposed to know them all and spell them, so that's a good challenge. And then it's actually more than 3,000 of them if you get down to just a variety level. So it's a lot to keep track of. Favorites will be hard to choose.

Favorites will be hard to choose. I do like a lot of the perennials, and perennials are a really important class for pollinators. But we grow everything from bedding annuals to herbs, which maybe not a lot of people think of in terms of pollinators, but herbs are great for pollinators.

And so my personal favorite probably is the echinacea because the bees will actually sleep on them. Oh, they will. It's so cute. They will. And I also really like our ornamental pepper crop. That's one where the more bees that come to them will get actually a heavier fruit scent. Ornamental pepper.

Speaker 1: Ornamental peppers. Tell me about ornamental pepper.

Speaker 2: It's a regular pepper, but there are a couple of species that have a lot of different styles of fruit. So summer round, summer longer, and they go through color changes over the course of the fall.

So you'll get anything from yellow to red to purple and even almost a jet black. Oh, fantastic. Beautiful.

Okay. Great for fall, great for mums. And so in terms of demand, there's a lot of demand for all the types of perennials, some monarda, choropsis, lavender, sedums, those are all really great for pollinators. And then there's a lot of demand for herbs right now. A lot of people are doing more, you know, cooking with plants. But even some of our biggest sellers, things like Alyssa and Pratunia, do have some value to pollinators. So even some of the common stuff that we grow is good.

Speaker 1: Okay, that's great. So we got some great examples of some unusual ones, but also what people, you can commonly see in people's gardens. Exactly. All right. So this sounds like a complicated process. As you talked about, like if you went down to the cultivar, there may be 3,000 different plants growing. So walk us through the process of how you start these plants how you keep them organized and what's involved before they're shipped out, they go out to the market.

Speaker 2: So we grow almost everything here ourselves. We root it here at the nursery. And so probably about two-thirds of our production is from seed. And the other third is started from unrooted or vegetated cuttings.

Okay. Plants from seed are either directly sown into the pot, but the majority of what we're doing is sowing them into plug trays and they run through our germination chambers. And with cuttings, production is also in those smaller plug trays, but they're going under missed irrigation. Okay. In most cases, the plugs are going to be fully rooted out in three to four weeks, and then they get transplanted into the finished pot, which is the size that you purchase from the store. So a four-inch pot or a one-gallon. The cuttings in particular come to us from all over the world.

They can come to us from Guatemala, Israel, and Ethiopia. Wow. Yeah. FedEx is our friend. We've got a lot of boxes in today actually for our cuttings. There are also a number of producers in the U.S. that we get our product from. Some plants that we grow are very fast, like lettuce, and spinach, which might be a crop that's only three to four weeks from sowing to actually something that you would find in the store. And then other things like perennials or point sides, which we do grow for Christmas, might take six to nine months before their sales are ready. Wow.

Speaker 1: You've got stuff here you have to think really far in advance.

Speaker 2: Really far in advance, and particularly on things that you're getting in cuttings, it's stepped back to almost a full growing season or longer. And so 2019 is in the books as far as we're concerned. We just have to do the final step and grow the plants out, but we're already planning for 2020 right now. Okay.

Speaker 1: Wow. So just go through the germination part of it again. As everybody knows, I only know about bees. I have a very limited perspective on the world. So they're going into small little trays, and you talked about two different ways of...

Speaker 2: Right. So when you're sowing from seed, we actually have a whole seeding line and the machine will stick one seed in every pot. Those cell trays, there might be 288 of them in one tray, like a typical flat size. And for undercuttings, they come in just baggies full of little plant parts that have been snipped off the mother stock in these faraway places and come to us. And you're just sticking them in kind of a larger cell tray. In that case, there might be 72 or 105 in a flat.

Speaker 1: And they're going into some kind of soil?

Speaker 2: Yeah, like a peat-based media. And then you keep your humidity levels up so that they either root, in the case of the vegetative cutting, or they break their seed coat in the germination chambers. And then they just kind of hang out for a few weeks where they're bulking up and they're rooting fully down to that cell. And then after that, we have three different automatic transplant lines where it'll take each individual cell out of there and then stick it into the final, the larger container that you're buying at the store.

Speaker 1: OK, OK, that's great. I guess, you know, this is not the only nursery in Oregon. There are a lot of nurseries producing a lot of plant material.

Speaker 2: In all sorts of different ways. So some people do tissue cultures and people are working with larger stock like trees and shrubs. And so this is kind of traditionally how you do bedding annuals and perennials.

Speaker 1: OK, so I think most people probably, maybe they don't know, it is the largest agricultural sector in Oregon, the nursery industry. Why is it such a great place to grow nursery plants?

Speaker 2: Well, from a climate standpoint, we're just in a pretty good zone. We generally don't get high summer temperatures or humidity and our winters are fairly mild as well. So it's just a lack of those extremes. We are somewhat light-limited during the winter months, as you know, not a lot of sunlight going on here in January. But even still, that's not as bad as northern latitudes like Washington or Michigan that also try to do propagation. So we do have supplemental LED grow lights. Those have come down a lot economically in the last few years. So we do have some options there. And finally, in terms of water resources, even though we might experience the occasional drought from time to time, water is still pretty readily available in our part of the country, especially if you compare it to other places like California.

Speaker 1: OK, so it doesn't have extreme heat. And even though it gets a little dark here, the cost of making it like in the winter has gone down and it's also, you know, it's a water-intensive crop to pull off. Yes. All right. All right. So let's, I want to take a quick break and then I want to get into how you guys are working with pollinators specifically. All right.

OK, we are back as listeners during the breaks often are the most interesting conversations. But I found it. So I was a little taken aback when you said ornamental peppers I don't get it. So I've just listened and have just looked at the images of these peppers in it.

The thing I didn't get was it's the peppers themselves are the ornament. They are beautiful. There are some purple ones there, yellows, oranges. So these would be shipped out.

These peppers are going to be shipped out with the pepper on them. That's what you'll look at. It's not the way I always think about it. It's like a flower. It's the pepper.

Speaker 2: Right. Yeah. Because on a lot of, we do vegetable transplants and those were just kind of giving you to plant in your yard. You know, so this is kind of a final thing.

It comes in a four-inch pot and it tends to go out as a late summer or early fall crop for us that goes out with the mums and the ornamental cabbage and kale. So it just gives you a little bit more color in those fall tones.

Speaker 1: I can see that. I want one.

Speaker 2: You can have the whole greenhouse full if you want.

Speaker 1: So, okay. So the thing about these peppers though, the connection with the pollinators is when the customer gets it, the flowers are gone, but you, to get those beautiful peppers on there, you need bees to come in to pollinate them.

Okay. I mean, whenever I think about nurseries, I think nothing here needs to be pollinated. You're sending flowers out into the world, but actually here's an example of an ornamental that to really look spectacular needs to be.

Absolutely. And so you'll have a whole greenhouse of these and then the bees will just come in and they'll start to visit them. What kind of bees have you seen?

Speaker 2: I've seen mostly honeybees on these. Occasionally we will get bumble bees, but it's mostly the honeybees that come in.

Speaker 1: Oh, that's fantastic. Okay. Great. Well, I guess I wanted to come around and just Iwasaki Brothers is one of our flagship farms here in Oregon. And we had an episode, just a few episodes back about the flagship farm program with the Syracan Cade. Right. Can you tell us about environmental sustainability and how did the company become interested in sustainability issues?

Speaker 2: I would say that the Iwasakis have always been interested in sustainability. So it's something that came very naturally to them. Part of it has to do with our location. It's kind of an abroad sense. Our nursery is located in close proximity to Jackson Bottom Slough. For illiciters that might not be around here, that's an important wetland habitat. And it's also important for wildlife refuges for migratory waterfowl. So all of our water on the property eventually makes its way to the slough. And because of that, we've always been just very mindful about where runoff goes and how clean that runoff is. We have another detention swale that will help filter runoff and slowly meter it back into the wetland areas.

Oh, wow. And then we're also very focused on reducing our energy footprint. They installed solar panels a number of years ago.

I think it's been 10 or 12 years now. We also work closely with the Energy Trust of Oregon to identify upgrades for our boiler systems, grow lights, and greenhouse heaters that can help reduce our energy use. First and foremost, though, I would say that we just have a robust IPM program. So IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management. The focus of IPM is on scouting and rapid identification of pests and diseases so we can treat just a small group of plants as opposed to having to spray the entire greenhouse. So if we do have to use pesticides, we're treating a much smaller area.

We just don't want anything to get too out of hand on that front. So we also use beneficial predators as our first line of defense against pests. So that's just basically we're using good bugs to eat the bad bugs. Most people might think of ladybugs as a good example of that. Well, I don't know if people know. But we have over a dozen different species of predators that we apply to our crops. Everything from predatory mites and midges.

Speaker 1: All right. So people are going to say, like, you apply. How do you apply predators to crops? We

Speaker 2: apply. Well, you know, that's what's so much fun as opposed to using pesticides where you've got to suit up and you've got to put on a Tyvek suit and really protect yourself. Some of it is just as simple as opening a container. OK. And they fly out and go forth and conquer. So that's pretty satisfying because they will kind of do the scouting for you. They'll go out and find them.

Other things. So some of our predators do fly. So in that case, you can just kind of release them out into the environment and they'll find where they want to go.

Other times, even though they might have a flying stage like with Green Lake Swing, it's really hard to get them shipped to you in the adult flying stage. So you're either applying eggs or you're applying larvae. And so you're doing kind of these broadcast applications almost kind of like with a really good broadcast spreader like you would do fertilizer in your yard. So kind of a similar scenario to that. And we've also played around with like a modified leaf blower to kind of cannon them out into the crop. It works.

Speaker 1: It works. You know, the funniest thing, I once saw somebody, a commercial honeybee place where the way that they would get workers, you know when you ship queens, you have them in a little cage like this and they had a vacuum and they just sucked all the workers in and they didn't mind.

Speaker 2: We actually do something like that if we're collecting samples of like white fly to send to get them biotyped in to see if they're like the really bad one or not. And so you're kind of, you have an aspirator and you're going around sucking them off of leaves, you know,

Speaker 1: They're, they're, they're,

Speaker 2: they're, they're, they're, they're, they're, they're, they're still being bounced around. Okay. So you have ways of getting these guys out. Bio control is this way of reducing pesticide use, but also very targeted icing on some of the pasts.

Yeah. So there, some predators are specialists and they like, you know, like persimilis only goes after two-spotted spider mites, and then others are generalists. And so if you just have things like lacewings or ladybugs around, they'll, they'll keep a lot of different things at bay.

Speaker 1: I would always think that with biocontrol, especially in a crop like this, I, I've always told, and people always tell me that for nursery material, if there's any amount of damage, it, it's so competitive that it won't make it to market. And so I would have imagined that something as nuanced as biocontrol would be very tricky to pull off in the nursery industry.

Speaker 2: True, but remember pesticides also really have the capacity to damage your crop too. Oh, tell me about that. If you just spray it wrong, it's too hot when you spray it. There are certain things that you'll get what's called phytotoxicity, so you might be able to spray something on 100 things and one thing won't like it. Oh. And you don't generally learn that, you know, from the company that makes it because they can't test, you know, again, we have 3,000 species.

Speaker 1: You don't have 100, you have 3,000.

Speaker 2: You got 3,000, and so like literally, you know, one of the pesticides, there's one species of calipacoa that it causes phytotoxicity on. So you don't find those out until you find them out, and then you have damage anyway. But pest management is really a numbers game. So we have what we call our problem children, that we know there are just some plants that are attractive, you know, it's like roses get aphids, you know, it just is. And so we've learned to identify those over the years, and for those plants, we're putting the predator outright, you know, from the get-go. So in our seed ranges and our unrooted cutting ranges, that's where we're, you know, focusing our targeted applications. So we're trying to get the predator in first.

And so the pest and the predator will kind of, the population will remain kind of stable, and then you're only maybe doing some corrective applications of something spirals out of control.

Speaker 1: Okay, so the way that you get around the nuances is being very kind of having to hone in on some of the peculiarities. If they do it at the right time, you can get around some of that.

Speaker 2: Exactly right. And sometimes you just have to make adjustments based on the weather. So a lot of the predators will like, you know, kind of, you know, mild temperatures and a little more humid.

And so sometimes our populations have gotten out of whack, like in the September when we get these like hot East winds that will come down the gorge and just, it's just kind of dry and hot and really low humidity. Well, the pests love that. And so their population might build really quickly. Spider mite flare-ups in August are a good example of that. And so you learn to anticipate those and just maybe bring more bugs in at that time. Or sometimes you do have to do, you know, corrective applications, but you try to do it as a last resort.

Speaker 1: That's fantastic. Okay. So you're able to accomplish both. You can keep that really high aesthetic value up, but not be, you know, relying on pesticides.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Most of the time we can be successful. I mean, there's always, you know, some situations that are tough, but for the most part, we have a really good successful program with that. Okay.

Speaker 1: All right. So Saki Brothers is one of the flagship farms here in Oregon and is part of the Oregon B project. And in addition to, you know, having to do integrated pest management and take some training on pollinators, you've been monitoring for native bees at the nursery this past year. Tell us a little bit about that experience.

Speaker 2: Well, that was actually really great. Your listeners may not know that we do a training session with you as part of the flagship farm.

Speaker 1: Actually, it was a great training. We talk about it all the time because we came here and we had Spanish and English training.

Speaker 2: It was very well received. And I mean, one of the things that I really enjoyed about that is that, you know, every year we get this thing that bees are going to sting me. And it's really not the bees. It's more of the wasps, you know, the yellow jackets.

Oh, yeah. And so being able to train some of our workers, you know, to distinguish between those is really nice. But, you know, at the end of the training, I think a lot of people just like ladybugs, you know, are kind of, you know, revered. Everybody likes ladybugs and they're, they're visible, you know, bumblebees, you know, kind of same thing. And so people were really drawn to that.

And I get employees all the time. We did these collections and they're getting mounted and everybody can't wait to see what's being mounted because there is quite a wide variety of just bee species, you know, forget pollinators, just bees that are at the nursery. So they set us up with some collection place that we would put at different, you know, areas in the nursery and we tried to do some inside, some outside, you know, some closer to the wild areas. And then it was just kind of like a little dish full of soap and some were sacrificed to science.

You know, I got collected. But it was amazing, just the different variety of things that we got in there because just when you're walking around, you tend to notice like the bumblebees or the honeybees, you know, more. But there's, you have these little cars, I'm trying to remember in Oregon, is it like over 500

Speaker 1: what species of bees that we have here? You know, that just blows everybody away, you know, when they hear that. Well, and if listeners recall from an earlier episode, those specimens right now are being mounted and they're being identified as two species and then they're going to be returned here for educational purposes. You'll be able to see all really curious how many bee species there are on the farm.

Speaker 2: And I'm sure that Sarah can probably help us fine-tune. We would be up for doing more collections next year because, you know, sometimes when you just push things towards certain crops next to them, you're only going to get, you know, a certain segment of pollinators that show up. So we kind of like to do that in a broader sense too. But even with the little bit that we did, we did collections some months kind of during the warm season. So I think we started in March and went through September with our collections.

Speaker 1: Ron Spendle is a master gardener who works. He does a lot of native bee work at Jackson Bottom. We'll have to have an episode with him as well just to compare notes. That would be great. This nice interaction between the wetland and the nursery.

Absolutely. So I guess the last question I have for you is that in conversations with you and other nursery growers, I've learned that there have been shifts in the nursery markets to younger consumers who are looking for plants that are not just beautiful. They want a plant to do a lot more. Tell me about that shift and sort of how you guys are thinking about that shift.

Speaker 2: Well, that is a really interesting question. And I'm not sure we know, you know, all the answers there yet. We would love to have our crystal ball and know exactly how those shifts are happening.

We can prepare for them more, but I do think you're right. There's just more of an interest in these sorts of things in terms of, you know, plants that serve other goals and just, you know, pollinators with native plants versus pollinators with ornamental plants. I'm sure there are some pollinators that have strong associations with only native plants, you know, that might be more confused by some of our hybridized species, especially the ones that have just so many flower petals in the middle.

It's just hard for them to find where they're supposed to go on the darn things. But on the other hand, plant breeders are always developing plants with consumers in mind. So plants that are more drought tolerant, more fluriferous, have a longer bloom time. And I can't help thinking then the end this might help pollinators as those pollinators and nectar sources are going to be available over a longer period of time during the year. So I do think ornamentals, you know, have a role to play. The most important trait that ornamentals are being bred for is customer success. So we want plants that will succeed in a variety of growing conditions that are easy for even a novice gardener to grow.

Speaker 1: Sorry, that's me. I'm below novice. Well, and a lot of people are below novice, you know, and I think that's a trend that we've continued to see. So people might not have grown up with as much land, you know, growing up, we just have had the opportunity to, you know, work with things themselves.

And so, you know, we still want people to feel like they can be successful in these things. So, I think that's where the market is going to provide that bridge between what might be like a vague online plant list versus creating a new plant. And we're going to have a more successful or multifunctional garden space. So as an example, if you look at plants that attract pollinators, I think on every list, you'll probably find borage, which is an herb on nearly all those lists. But do you want to actually plant that in your yard? It's actually a bit of a thug.

It wants to take over your yard. So it might be a little overly successful. So we're actually at our nursery trying to focus on ornamental solutions that have, you know, ornamental value or attractive, but also provide pollinator habitat, but will also be successful in yards or even in containers. So, you know, another example would be something like Joe Pyeweed, which is nice and shows you, but it's native. Yeah, it's like six feet tall, six to eight feet tall. But the breeders have, you know, come up with some dwarf varieties of that that might only be three or four feet tall. You know, now that's something that can be working in your yard.

Yeah. Yeah, especially if you're like me, I've got a small little space and, you know, I'd like to have a diversity that I don't, I don't want to be overwhelmed with complicated plants and I also want to be set up for success. And I also don't have a lot of space. Exactly. Perfect. Thank you. Thank you guys. Yeah. You're happy to help.

So you're not going to get away. I see you've got a stack of books there you've prepared for our guest questions. So we're going to take a break and we can, you can think about them again. And then we're going to ask you questions.

We ask all our guests. Okay. Awesome. So, how did you get this question? Well, you're back from a ridiculously short break. And the first question I have for you is, do you, I already see it? I can see it across the table, but, nobody else can see it. Do you have a favorite pollinator book?

Speaker 2: I do, but you can't just limit that to one because there are so many good books out there. Right. So I will tell you the book that just kind of started me thinking about this too many years ago I would admit, but there's a book called The Forgotten Pollinators that's out there that is just a really great primer for the concepts. You know, if you don't really know why pollinators are important or you know, what role they play in our habitats. So that isn't a very list-oriented book, but it's just kind of more conceptually why that's there. And then.

Speaker 1: But stop for a second. Because of that book, I think people don't recognize it as a setting as people think about colony collapse disorder as the first call to action, but I consider that book the first call to action in the late nineties.

Speaker 2: Yeah, it came out, I think in 1996. So for me, I'm just out of school there from college, but a lot is going on with at this time with listing plants, you know, like, you know, endangered species, you know, listen. And part of what this book was about is that, well, you know, you can kind of put a fence around this plant, but if you haven't also protected its pollinator, you know, the point is kind of moot. And so trying to establish kind of those bigger connections between plants and their pollinators.

Speaker 1: All right. But that as you said, that's a conceptual and it should be noted that it's signed by the author.

Speaker 2: Yes, I got those. I got that signed. They were, I think I was at a talk that the Xerces Society put on in Portland and they were there.

Speaker 1: That's right. Speaking of which, you have a second book that's more practical. Yes.

Speaker 2: And I would say too. So Xerces Society has a guide for attracting native pollinators. This is good because it also has some of the pollinators in here and then it has some lists that break things down by kind of area of the country and where you're at. There's also another guide and this one's on my Kindle bed. It's called this is newer. So if you're looking for a newer guide, it's 100 plants to feed the bees that the Xerces Society has put out. Those are really great.

What's hard about books that are written for national audiences is kind of hard to know what to do here. And so I actually think the internet is a fantastic resource for trying to pair up pollinators with your actual region of the world that you're in. I know for us here in the Pacific Northwest, Great Plant Pics is a more local listing and they have some specific pollinator lists that they publish on their site, but that's just for the Pacific Northwest.

Speaker 1: Oh yeah, we should put a link to that. I think they had a campaign a couple of years ago. Yeah. Let's link up to that. Good species on that list. Absolutely. Okay. The second question I have for you is do you have a go-to tool for the kind of work that you do?

Speaker 2: Yes, they're two, but they both do the same thing just one more powerful than the other. So we would be lost without our 16 X magnifying hand lenses or we also have a 200 X USB microscope that is just fantastic. And these things are really inexpensive. I think the USB microscope is only like 160 bucks or something.

Speaker 1: Okay, first question, why 16 X?

Speaker 2: 16 X, that's something that if you're just out in the field, you can carry that around in your pocket and you would be able to see, oh, I have spider mice. You know, not just I think I have flecks of dust moving on this leaf.

Let me kind of really see that I have that. And then the USB microscope that goes up to 200 magnification is just important for really getting down and zooming in there and seeing what's happening because you know, these pests and diseases are really small and you got to kind of get down to your level. And so you can tell a lot about how many eggs are being laid, you know, do you have all stages of a pest adult juvenile, you know, and egg laying. We use it to identify some of the fungal diseases, you know, that we get in.

And so it's and sometimes we get into something that we don't know what it is, but you're able to take a high enough picture that you can zip it off to OSU plug OSU for you. And they'll come back with an insect ID and tell us what we have and if it's a problem, you know, because anytime you see a pest if you don't know what it is, you have to say, is it, you know, friendly foe or neutral?

Speaker 1: I guess that's a key to integrating pest management because for a lot of people like myself, who aren't familiar with the 3000 plants and their various plagues and things, sometimes it can be abiotic damage, it can be something completely correct. And then I'm like, oh, I better treat it.

Speaker 2: But it's like and that's the most important thing of IPM is that you have to know what you have first. And so trying to identify what everything is, because you might be spraying for something that's really not a problem at all. Number one, or it could have just been an environmental issue. Something was off with the humidity and you get, you know, different physiological damage that will happen to the plant or nutritional damage. And it's it's hard to figure out what it is sometimes.

Speaker 1: Which reminds me, you were talking about those peppers and the pollination. You had a great pest management story that I'd love to. Yes.

Speaker 2: So so thrips are a little tiny sucking, flying insect that we get here and they like peppers, all kinds of peppers, and they will get into the flower and during the bud formation when it's starting to just set fruit. And if you have an infestation of thrips during pepper formation, I'll actually deform them.

Speaker 1: Okay, so they're feeding on the new pepper and then it just it's that determines how it's going to look later. Right.

Speaker 2: Like it won't, it won't be a nice pepper. Like you think it'll be it'll be deformed and kind of puckered and stuff and it won't it won't develop the way it's supposed to. So thrips are very, very tiny and they like to live inside of flower buds and plant parts and they actually increase the activity when they're exposed to pollen. So they'll they'll reproduce like four times faster if they're feeding on pollen.

Speaker 1: So it's a kind of pest that's going to overlap with when the pollen is.

Speaker 2: Yeah, and it just it'll just explode in terms of and it has a potential to really damage the crop. So a lot of times you ended up, you know, traditionally, so this is maybe, you know, 10 or 15 years ago, you know, I have that. Okay, we're going to go spray for that. Well, you know, thrips are hard to spray for anyway. And there's some really great, you know, biologicals that you could put out that will eat thrips. There's also a beneficial nematode that we put out for them. And so we ended up over the course of, you know, last four or five years, we've just sprayed the peppers less and less and less because we have better, you know, biological tools that we can use. And we've noticed, you know, that's when we really started noticing, oh, the bees come in and look at how much more fruit we have on the crop. So that's that was a really good example of where going a biological route and doing less pesticides actually improved the quality of the plant.

Speaker 1: That's a great example of it. I guess it always is the tricky problem in all sorts of crop management is pests that are around flowers. They're always the hardest ones to manage around pollinators. Yeah. But this is great I'm glad this worked out. This is perfect. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Win win win win win win win like all those things.

Speaker 1: Last question I have for you is do you have a pollinator species that is near and dear to your heart?

Speaker 2: Okay, that's going to be like the book question. It's not fair. Just make me pick one of them. So the first disclaimer is I would have to say I'm fond of all bumblebees just as a general. But if I had to pick a favorite, I think it's going to be a tie between hoverflies and white line sphinx moth. Okay.

Speaker 1: Hoverflies. Great. Flies are really under. We have threatened to bring a fly person on the show.

Speaker 2: We really do need. You shouldn't threaten. I should just do it.

Speaker 1: We should do it. I don't know any listeners. If you know a good dipteran pollinator person, please recommend that we really would love to talk with them. But sphinx moth.

Speaker 2: Yeah. So first thing I'm going to say is to plug hoverflies. One of the reasons that's a favorite is because the larvae of the surfids also eat aphids. And so it's an indicator species besides the fact that it's a fantastic pollinator. A lot of times we know that when we're going in, we're just doing our scouting. If we see a hoverfly in a crop, we're like, hmm, I think they're seeing aphids in there.

Speaker 1: Because they're trying to lay their eggs.

Speaker 2: They're trying to get right in. And they actually will come in when the aphid levels are really low. And so a hoverfly sometimes is our first indicator that maybe we should go into that crop and check it out.

Speaker 1: I'll be darned. That's a great trick. That's a great trick. Yeah, good stuff. And then, well, okay, so white line sphinx moth, also known as hummingbird moth, they're just cool.

You can't get much better than that. They're mostly nocturnal. And so you don't, you don't always see them, but sometimes you'll see them during the day. The caterpillar side of that is pretty alarming because they're large.

They're about the size of your pinky finger. And every season I'll have somebody that comes to me and their eyes are really wide open. They're like, oh, my gosh, they're eating everything. And they do. They kind of pick on a couple of plants and they'll just demolish them. Just out of curiosity, what are there, do you, what kind of plant they are?

Speaker 2: We've gotten them in on our fuchsias before. They'll eat the fuchsias down the larvae. What they destroy. I think sometimes they'll be on tomatoes and stuff, but that's where we've tended to see them here. But they'll say, well, they're eating the whole crop. I said, well, how many did you see? And they'll say, well, I saw two.

And I said, okay, well, we can, we can sacrifice a couple. But then, as far as pollination goes, because they'll, they'll hang around the perennial crops. They've got like a really long proboscis. So they'll tend to go to things like delphinium and, and Columbine and stuff. But they're, they're just fantastic.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I love your pollinator picks. And it shows how much attention you pay to your plants. We rarely talk about plant hosts for larvae. And here we've got one that is eating the bugs that are on your plants and one that actually eats your plants. That's great. I'm glad that you raised those and one good, maybe one potentially bad for certain things.

Speaker 2: When you got to watch, sometimes we do catch and release and we take the caterpillars out of our greenhouse and people take them home.

Speaker 1: Well, thank you so much for taking time out of a very busy day with 3,000 plants somewhere around here in some, some stage of attention.

Speaker 2: Spring has sprung at our nursery for sure. Well, thank you so much for the time. Thank you, Anthony.

Speaker 1: Thanks so much for listening. Show notes with information discussed in each episode can be found at pollinationpodcast.oregonstate.edu. We'd also love to hear from you. And there are several ways to connect. For one, you can visit our website to post an episode-specific comment, suggest a future guest or topic, or ask a question that can be featured in a future episode. You can also email us at [email protected]. Finally, you can tweet questions or comments or join our Facebook or Instagram communities. Just look us up at OSU Pollinator Health. If you like the show, consider letting iTunes know by leaving us a review or rating.

It makes us more visible, which helps others discover pollination. See you next week.

Kathleen Baughman is a 1995 graduate of Washington State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture. In 2009, Kathleen made a lateral shift into Horticulture and worked in pest management at a rose nursery for several years before coming to Iwasaki Bros., Inc. She currently works as both the IPM and Operations Manager, where her duties include pest and disease control along with soil and lighting trials.

Learn how Iwasaki Bros. has reduced their environmental impact through Integrated Pest Management (IPM), bee monitoring, and the flagship farm program.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“The Iwasaki’s have always been interested in sustainability, so [becoming a flagship farm] was something that came very natural to them.” – Kathleen Baughman

Show Notes:

  • Which nursery plants are most popular for pollinators
  • How Kathleen and Iwasaki Bros. manage their nursery plants
  • What makes the Pacific Northwest a great place to grow nursery plants
  • What got Iwasaki Bros. interested in sustainability issues
  • What Integrated Pest Management is and how it aids in achieving Iwasaki Bros. sustainability goals
  • How pest management coincides with keeping a prime crop for nurseries
  • What Iwasaki has done to monitor bees as a flagship farm for the Oregon Bee Project
  • How the consumer focus for nursery plants has changed and how the industry has adapted

“The focus of Integrated Pest Management is on scouting and rapid identification of pests and diseases so we can just treat a small group of plants as opposed to having to spray the entire greenhouse.” – Kathleen Baughman

Links Mentioned:

Was this page helpful?

Related Content from OSU Extension

Have a question? Ask Extension!

Ask Extension is a way for you to get answers from the Oregon State University Extension Service. We have experts in family and health, community development, food and agriculture, coastal issues, forestry, programs for young people, and gardening.