Ornamental Pansy Disease Trial (Update!)

This small research/demonstration idea came from a local independent nursery operation, Country Flower Plant Farm, that is one of my favorites. Last year they had a terrible problem with pansy plugs dying either shortly after transplanting into trays or even later as they were sold and planted into customer beds. I suggested last year that they consider some organic soil drench treatments to stop the disease. They were quick to say that they don’t use chemicals and wouldn’t even know how to use them, this is exactly what I wanted to hear!

This past August I visited with them about doing an experiment with organic biological products to improve plant health and help fight any potential fungal infections. As soon as they got their plugs in and began the transplanting process, I treated the trays with products. Individual tray treatments included: Aviv from Summit Agro a Bacillus subtilis, Quantum EXP-1 which is a mix of different bacteria, and Triathlon BA or as crop growers know it as Double Nickel. I mixed up 1/2 gallon of each product and treated each tray with a treatment and used one tray as a check or no treatment.

Different colored pansies where us as an individual treatment. 1/2 Gallon or 64 oz. of treated mix applied per tray.  Mixed and applied immediately while agitating.  Products applied as a drench (Day 0), and again 7 days (Day 7) later, and then plant 12 days later.

Tray plug plant dateSeptember 22
Day 0 – DrenchSeptember 26
Day 7 – DrenchOctober 3
Plant in groundOctober 15
Final evaluation dateNovember 16

The pansies were grown in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks after treatment and then transplanted in a replicated, randomized trial in the ground.

Here are the final results of plants that lived and died, and the cost associated with the losses. Unfortunately, I don’t know if the actual reason for plant loss was from specific root diseases or that the organic treatments were the result of more or less plant survivability or loss. That said, the fact that the untreated check had the highest death loss (equal to treatment 2/6) is an indicator that the treatments had an effect.

A big thanks to Teresa Esparz, owner at Country Flower Plant Farm for being so cooperative and helpful in conducting this trial and being a great sounding board for organic ideas and projects!

Author: Bob Whitney, Regents Fellow & Extension Organic Specialist

Agriculturalist, extension educator and researcher, organic agriculture enthusiast and promoter, international program developer, Christian, husband, father and friend.

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