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Green March/April 2020

Crossing State Lines

Whether importing or exporting, become familiar with unwanted pests and diseases to avoid serious damage




TNLA Green March/April 2020

08 Cover Story:

Crossing State Lines

Whether importing or exporting, become familiar with unwanted pests and diseases to avoid serious damage.



March/April 2020

CONTENTS 02 President’s Letter

06 Q&A

04 News

18 G reen Vision

A new Texas Green Industry Compensation Study is out. The latest legislative and industry updates from TNLA.


Practical business advice and ideas you can use now. Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Brought Him Business

14 I nternational Trade: 20 B ugs & Fuzz: Risk Assessments for Insect Step by Step The USDA breaks down what you need to know about exporting to a foreign country.

and Disease Management

24 Quiz

16 P alms in Lethal Decline



Texas works to contain lethal bronzing, prevent lethal yellowing from wiping out palm trees.

06 March/April 2020 TNLA Green


PRESIDENT’S Letter DEAR TNLA MEMBERS, This month we are excited to make available a new Texas Green Industry Compensation Study. We all know labor is our one of our biggest concerns. There’s just not enough. For several years we’ve known our labor shortage plagues all levels of the green industry. Many of us have attended numerous conferences and summits devoted to the issue. We need skilled and unskilled labor. We need college graduates and those who just love to work outside. The greatest test before us now involves moving the needle toward more people entering the green industry workforce. I believe thinking outside the traditional norms of hiring people, looking at internal culture, and reassessing what the industry has long thought of as fair and equitable compensation should be part of the formula. The TNLA Labor NOW Task Force saw we didn’t have the right tools or data to compete with other industries, so they worked to develop the study. Writing for The Foundation for HR programs, Jack Bucalo explained, “Being fair means that the compensation amount was impartially and honestly determined in an objective manner based on merit without any favor or prejudice.” Businesses are challenged with keeping appropriate margins that allow them to run the business and plan ahead. Kevin Daum for Inc. magazine stated, “Small businesses, start-ups and large corporations struggle philosophically and morally to determine proper pay that will stimulate performance, protect reputations and encourage longevity.” I believe the green industry needs to add one more item to that list. We need fair compensation to attract people to our industry. It begins in high school when students are determining a career or job path. The parents and students are asking, “Can I make a living doing this job, will I get benefits if I enter into this profession, and can I pay off my student loan debt by entering this career path?” TNLA hopes this study will help you begin thinking about the culture you have at work, the compensation you give, and the way you reward excellence. You can access the study in the TNLA online store ( under Resources. Log in to get the member price. If you need a login or have forgotten yours send an email to info@ Amy Graham TNLA President and CEO


TNLA Green March/April 2020



The official publication of the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association January/February | Vol. 23 No. 1


Chairman of the Board ... Jay Williams, League City Chairman-Elect ... Tim Little, Dallas Immediate Past Chairman ... Joshua Bracken, TMCNP, Dallas President/CEO ... Amy Graham, Austin

Board of Directors

Region I Kevin Grossberndt, Big Foot Region II ... Mike Hugg, TCNP, TCLP, Houston Region III ... Nigel Clark, Winnsboro Region IV ... Craig Duttarer, TCLP, Carrollton Region V ... Jackie Smith, Santo Region VI ... Steven Akers, Slaton Region VII ... Gerry Bower, Weslaco Region VIII ... Brad Seever, Austin Supplier Director ... Jerome Alder, Cedar Park Grower Director ... Kevin Norris, Coppell Landscape Director ... John Leifester, TCLP, San Antonio Retail Director ... Dean Warren, Kingwood Director At-Large ... Adrian Muehlstein, TMCNP, Carrollton Director At-Large .... Rachelle Kemp, TCLP, TMCNP, Waco Director At-Large ... Bobby Eichholz, ASLA, San Antonio Director At-Large ... Devin Gunn, Dallas

TNLA Staff

President/CEO ... Amy Graham Director of Finance ... Cheryl Staritz Director, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs… Ryan Skrobarczyk Director, EXPO Exhibits and Membership... Amy Prenger, CEM Director, TNLA & EXPO Marketing/Communications... Sarah Riggins, CEM Director, Industry Education and Certifications… James Theiss, TCLP, TCWSP, Certified Arborist Business Development/Sales Executive... Mike Yelverton, TCNP & TCWSP Office Operations Assistant... Nancy Sollohub Event Specialist… Sara Fern Specialist, TNLA and EXPO Marketing/Communications… Ashley Pettibone Administrative Assistant… Debra Allen Event Exhibit Specialist...Trevor Peevey

Magazine Staff

October Custom Publishing Editor ... Crystal Zuzek Creative Director ... Torquil Dewar Art Director ... Shelley Lai Production ... Zach Scouras TNLA Green magazine is a member service of the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association, and is published bi-monthly. Advertising information is available from TNLA, 7730 South IH 35, Austin, Texas 78745, online at, or by calling (800) 880-0343. TNLA office hours are weekdays, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM CST. Copyright 2018 Texas Nursery Landsape & Association

March/April 2020 TNLA Green





Product Rodeo & Education Corral Brought It All to Fort Worth INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS FROM across the state came together to be part of the action at TNLA’s newest event: Product Rodeo & Education Corral. The Will Rogers Memorial Center Watt Arena in Fort Worth was the site of the inaugural event, which took place Feb. 26–27. Product Rodeo highlighted the industry’s latest innovations with on-site demos of the latest outdoor equipment and machinery. Hundreds of green industry professionals enjoyed live demonstrations and exciting competitions. They also had the opportunity to earn more than 15 hours of CEU offerings. During the Product Rodeo & Education Corral, participants: • Tested the power and performance of the industry’s latest gear and cutting-edge technology; • Discovered the industry’s latest innovations during the


TNLA Green March/April 2020

rodeo’s live demonstrations; • Learned to create a remarkable experience in the workplace with employee engagement specialist and keynote presenter Peter Van Stralen; • Pumped up their teams’ excitement while throwing it all on the line during some fierce cornhole competitions; • Kicked up some dirt during the rodeo’s Wednesday night welcome party; • Powered up their business’ social network by meeting oneon-one with industry professionals; • Helped to raise money for scholarships during Thursday’s TNLA’s Foundation raffle and lunch; • Joined other women professionals in the industry during From High Heels to Work Boots, with industry leader and keynote presenter Veronica Seever of Leaf Landscape Supply;

TNLA Creates New Member Category: Irrigation AS THE GREEN INDUSTRY continues to grow, so does the need to diversify the TNLA

membership. Irrigation professionals play an integral role within the green industry, so TNLA members recently conducted a statewide vote passing a bylaw change to include irrigation as a TNLA member category. Irrigation members, by definition, are engaged in irrigation system design, consulting, installation, maintenance, and repairs or services, including the connection of such a system to a private or public, nonpotable or potable water supply, or any water supply.

• Hit the reset button before the busy spring business season arrives while enjoying Fort Worth; and • Maximized their time and gained much-needed CEUs at the Education Corral by attending education sessions focused on retail, landscaping, irrigation, and hardscapes. TNLA looks forward to seeing this event grow even more next year. Stay on the lookout for next year’s Product Rodeo & Education Corral dates. A special thanks to TNLA’s Product Rodeo & Education sponsors for making this a year a success: Southwest Wholesale Nursery, Leaf Landscape Supply, The Nitsche Group, Landscape Art, Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply, Civano Growers, Just Pots, TreeTown USA, Gempler’s, Keystone Hardscapes, Texas Green Industry Safety Group, Hotchkiss Insurance. TNLA


March/April 2020 TNLA Green



Practical business advice and ideas you can use now

Finding the Green Industry’s Future Workforce Finding highly skilled, talented employees takes a lot of time and resources. For the past eight years, Sam Weger, vice president of recruiting and training for Calloway’s Nursery, has honed his recruiting skills to hire qualified interns and staff members. Here he shares his wisdom for finding the right candidates and nurturing them to become the promise of the green industry’s future. How long have you been director of recruiting at Calloway’s Nursery, and what does your job entail? I have been at Calloway’s Nursery since 1987 and doing the recruiting and training function since 2012. I’ve been visiting college and university campuses as a Calloway’s representative since 2008. I supervise our summer internship program, which usually involves four students for 10 weeks in the summer. I also visit with not only students but prospective and current employees who are looking to advance their careers. I help in preparing the speaker’s notes for our Garden Series educational events every Saturday during the spring and develop customer care and safety topics for Calloway’s/Cornelius employees. What’s involved in your recruitment plan when you’re searching for interns on college and university campuses? The focus has been to find candidates who have the people skills retail demands: A positive attitude and friendly, helpful personality are the first things I look for. Having a “servant” mentality and the desire to help people be successful in their gardening endeavors is crucial, as well as a strong work and team ethic. Horticulture knowledge and some basic business understanding are also beneficial. How important are internships to retail garden centers and the future of the green industry? I think internships help expose the retail nursery industry to students who have not thought about that as a career choice. Our internships are designed to expose the students to an overview of the workings of most of the facets of a retail operation. We hope to allow them to find a career that uses their college experience and their desire to help people. What kind of recruitment work have you done to interest students in retail garden center and green industry careers? I have made presentations to horticulture classes and horticulture clubs at most of the colleges and universities with horticulture programs in Texas, as well as some contacts in other states. I worked with Can Academy High School at both of their


TNLA Green March/April 2020

Sam Weger, vice president of recruiting and training for Calloway’s Nursery

facilities in Fort Worth to talk about TNLA certification and career opportunities in our industry. How has that work paid off for Calloway’s and the green industry as a whole? We have former interns who have moved up to accept store management responsibilities for Calloway’s. They’ve also taken positions in our merchandising department work to procure product for our stores. We have had former interns who have moved on to start their own businesses and be involved in all the different

Q A categories within the green industry. I also believe, perhaps more importantly, that our existing employee base becomes more involved as they work with our interns. And they move to a higher level of professionalism in their careers. Why is it important to develop relationships with instructors and career counselors when recruiting students? The frontline instructors and counselors carry a lot of weight with their students. Developing a positive relationship with them will help identify students who might be a good fit with your organization. Instructors and counselors have a stake in promoting the industry in which they teach, and most want more students to be involved in their classes. Why are you passionate about green industry workforce issues? For several years the green industry has been viewed as a low-tech industry that did not offer a meaningful career. I think that might be reversing. I believe green industry careers benefit society and the people working in them. How can recruiters go about promoting the benefits of working for their company when recruiting on college campuses? I still believe in up-front honesty as the best long-term approach. I think recruiters must convey the things that keep them in the industry and what is important to them. Not everyone is going to relate to things that are important to you, but some will, and I think it will strike a chord with your candidate. What advice do you have for effectively training new hires? Don’t assume they know what you are talking about, and don’t be afraid to en-

courage questions. It’s also a good idea to ask questions to see if they comprehend what you’ve taught them. Once you’ve found talented employees, what tips do you have for retaining them? Immediately start looking for ways to move them forward in their careers by presenting them with specific job-related challenges. Most people want to contribute to the success of the team. If they don’t, why are they still there? Recognize their contributions and the successes and look for the next challenge. TNLA



STRENGTHENING YOUR COMPANY’S TALENT PIPELINE: Sam Weger has 14 time-tested tips for recruiting talented, motivated students and retaining them as valuable, hard-working employees.

1. Develop an internship program to help cultivate future talent to fill full-time positions in the future. 2. Review resumes and applications on a regular basis. 3. Research dates and sign up to participate in as many relevant career events as you can. 4. Take advantage of horticulture club events and classroom visits. 5. Before heading to a career fair, be prepared to discuss job opportunities offered by your company. 6. Search for students who are engaged and excited about their career goals. 7. First impressions are everything. Sell the benefits of working for your company. 8. P rovide printed information about your company to send home with students.

9. G et to know students in an informal setting to help evoke open conversation. This gives them the chance to learn more about your company. 10. Develop relationships with not only the students but also with the instructors and career counselors. 11. Interview prospective interns and new hires with professionalism to find the best candidates for your company. 12. Use your best mentor to train new hires and interns. 13. Put interns on the front line of your business to allow them to experience the job. Assign them meaningful projects to begin an active skillset to learn from. 14. Allow interns the opportunity to work with your customers.

March/April 2020 TNLA Green



TNLA Green March/April 2020

Crossing State Lines

Whether importing or exporting, become familiar with unwanted pests and diseases to avoid serious damage by SARAH THURMOND SPRING HAS OFFICIALLY ARRIVED, along with more customers looking for new plants to spruce

up their yards and gardens. To keep up with the demand, nurseries and growers are shipping stock all over the country. But with that comes potential dangers, warns Dale Scott, director of the Environmental and Biosecurity Program at the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). “We’re coming upon the really busy season,” he says. “Of course, when you have a busy season for imports and exports, you’re going to be transporting pests and disease.” That’s right, pests and diseases are lurking in budding flowers and lush greenery, and while some present no harm, others could cause serious damage. Nurseries and growers need to have the proper protocols and paperwork in place before shipping to another state, or they could find themselves in a real bind. A failed road station inspection could lead to a quarantine on materials or stock being sent back to the place of origin. Or it could be destroyed entirely, resulting in a potential loss of thousands of dollars. Even worse, from a regulatory standpoint, an unwanted pest could find its way into a vulnerable area of the country, causing an infestation to break out.

March/April 2020 TNLA Green


Crossing State Lines Of course, these situations are avoidable by being extra vigilant and following the right steps and procedures to ensure plants are safe for transport across state lines. Through some research and advance planning, and with the guidance of regional, state, and federal agents and organizations, interstate exporting and importing can help grow a green business by expanding its operation into new markets or by diversifying its stock to attract more customers.

beetle has been found in these states, and it’s under quarantine alert. To gain entry into California, nursery plants have to be treated with a pesticide that has been approved for Japanese beetle treatment. Treatment confirmation is a must. Surviving Inspections While they’re not mandatory for every state, PSCs show that products within a shipment have passed inspection by a TDA agent, who checks everything about the plants, including the soil. Depending on the size of a shipment, an inspection takes about one or two hours. The inspector observes the health of the plant stock and looks for any pests or diseases and anything else that’s on the checklist. Once approved, the certificate lists, among other things, the customer’s name, the facility address, the quantity of the shipment, and the variety of plants. A PSC needs to be obtained before goods are loaded for transport. Fortunately, a $30 fee covers an inspection, whether it’s one plant or thousands of plants. If shipping to a western state, keep in mind that most require a PSC for anything from Texas. For more information about PSCs, go to the Plant Quality page at or the Frequently Asked Questions page found under Plant Health/ Export at Some states have compliance agreements or special permits between states, if certain measures have been met. For example, Greenleaf Nursery in El Campo can skip the PSC process for shipments to New Mexico because it has a compliance agreement in place that requires a list of procedures to take place at the nursery. For example, these include a process that monitors whether Japanese beetles are found on the nursery’s property. A TDA agent sets out traps during the summer months, the

Importing and Exporting 101 Before getting started, make sure your Nursery Floral License is up to date. This annual license issued by TDA is required for any individual or business wanting to grow or distribute plants. Whether importing or exporting, it’s important to become familiar with the pests and diseases that are unwanted around the country. The National Plant Board’s website, nationalplantboard. org, is the best source for this information. The site’s Laws and Regulations section offers up-todate summaries for every state, as overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ), and the agriculture departments of each state. These summaries contain the quarantines that are in place in a state, the specific rules and regulations required by a state’s department of agriculture, and the certificates of compliance that are necessary for entry into a state, among other information. Because every state is different and has its own unique concerns, rules and regulations vary widely, making entry compliance one of the biggest challenges for a nursery or grower, says Mathias Marcos, a TDA plant quality program specialist. “There’s pest and disease that we might have to a limited extent in Texas, but other states believe that MOST CHALLENGING STATES FOR EXPORTING it’s widespread, so they’ll have certain HORTICULTURE PRODUCTS requirements that our nurseries must IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER the top states that are most challenging for exporting meet in order to be able to ship into horticulture products are: Arizona, California, Florida, Tennessee, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, their state,” he says. and Washington. In addition, the most popular exported plants and plant products from These requirements could include a Texas are: palms, roses, pecan nursery plants, trees, and turf. phytosanitary certificate (PSC), a special Aniwash Bhatkar, Ph.D., the TDA’s coordinator for biosecurity and agriculture resource permit, or a compliance agreement. The management writes via email, “Arizona wants all the nursery stock to be held at specified type of pest, pathogen, or insect and the holding areas on arrival for inspection of pests for five days. These plants may not get required type of plant determine which one is attention during this time. California does not accept compliance agreements for nursery necessary. For instance, one of the most stock and does not agree with all the requirements of the National Plant Board’s Domestic destructive pests is the Japanese beetle. Japanese Beetle Harmonization Plan (JBHP). Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington also do California rejects plants from Texas not agree with all the requirements of JBHP and need notification prior to plant shipments.” and other states because the Japanese


TNLA Green March/April 2020

Crossing State Lines peak season for the insect, and then checks the traps, records whether beetles are found, and then supplies the information to the agriculture department of New Mexico. Before any inspection, it’s a good rule of thumb to do self-inspections, says Aniwash Bhatkar, Ph.D., the TDA’s coordinator for biosecurity and agriculture resource management. “There are some pests that we must observe ourselves” he says, such as Asian gypsy moth and emerald ash borer. TDA and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service provide helpful information about pests and diseases to watch out for and how to spot them. And, of course, always be on the lookout for imported red fire ants. “Fire ants are always going to be our No. 1 as far as exporting, especially if you’re going out to California and Arizona,” Scott says. If a nursery or grower is interested in exporting but concerned about the number of TDA inspections, the Systems Approach to Nursery Certification (SANC) program might be the way to go. Sponsored by the National Plant Board, this is a selfaudit certification program, with a nursery addressing every risk it has for pests, pathogens, and diseases and putting in place SANC-approved procedures that mitigate any problems. These best management practices are formalized to maintain the health and quality of the nursery’s operations. “If a nursery operation puts in the investment and goes through the process, and then maintains the cleanliness and protocols within their operations, they’re actually certifying that they are managing and reducing risk for certain types of pathogens,” says Kevin Ong, Ph.D., director of the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Texas A&M. (See Greenleaf Nursery Kicks Off SANC Certification Process, page 12.)

Smarter Shipping When it comes to importing plants and plant products, again, research and proper paperwork are key to smooth, hassle-free shipping. Know where the material is coming from and what sort of pests originate in that state and the

quarantines that are in place in Texas, Scott says. “For instance, if you’re going to ship from Tennessee, know that they have Japanese beetle problems, and so there could be issues with that,” he says. To stay up to date on quarantines,

March/April 2020 TNLA Green


Crossing State Lines

GREENLEAF NURSERY KICKS OFF SANC CERTIFICATION PROCESS IN LATE 2017, the El Campo location of Greenleaf Nursery began the process for a Systems Approach to Nursery Certification (SANC), becoming the first and so far only nursery in Texas to pursue approval. Technical Services Manager Robert Fernandez has been overseeing the process, which kicked off with a SANC consultant guiding him through what is called a “risk assessment.” (See Risk Assessments for Insect and Disease Management, page 20.) Fernandez has gone step-by-step in identifying areas at risk for pests and diseases at the nursery — examining everything from places water could spread disease to the facility’s disposal of plants to its handling of equipment. He then formalized the plans to control the risks, including listing the personnel in charge of preventing hazards from occurring, the training that would be required, the treatment protocols, and proper equipment care. All the information is documented in a manual for the staff.


TNLA Green March/April 2020

Fernandez says many of the best management practices approved by SANC were in place at the nursery, such as how the nursery handled water, plant containers, and the control of weeds. But they were never formally written down, which he sees as a benefit. “When we are officially a SANC nursery, there will be no haphazard way of doing any one of these things, which can be very important in mitigating an issue,” he says. Throughout the process, Fernandez has leaned on his counterparts at Greenleaf’s North Carolina and Oklahoma locations, both of which have received SANC approval. And although he says the risk assessment was “tedious and timeconsuming” at times, particularly because of the facility’s size (more than 50 personnel will be involved in SANC practices), he believes it will all be worth it. “It definitely has forced me to look at things a little bit more critically,” he says.

Crossing State Lines check and for pest and disease alerts. In Texas, the list includes Asian citrus psyllid, emerald ash borer, red imported fire ants, and, of course, Japanese beetle. It’s critical that a shipment has accompanying paperwork, including any PSCs, with it before it leaves its place of origin. Texas has road station inspections coming into the major interstates. At the stations, agents check for documentation and make sure products are free of pests and disease. “We also do quarantine inspections at stores and nurseries, any place we can inspect the material that comes in from out of state that would be a high risk,” Marcos says.

destroyed. If it does have pests but is not of quarantine concern, treatment such as an approved pesticide or insecticide is an option. Another scenario could be if the shipment arrives and doesn’t have proper paperwork, but it doesn’t have any pests. In that case, TDA can seize the stock and issue a citation and

administrative penalty. “In those cases, we won’t necessarily destroy the plant,” Marcos says. “It could still be infected but we don’t see symptoms, so it depends on what the pest is, what the hosts is. There’s many considerations.” TNLA


He advises using reliable sources for stock, those that will not “run the risk of sending shipment into the state without a phytosanitary certificate.” He advises using reliable sources for stock, those that will not “run the risk of sending shipment into the state without a phytosanitary certificate.” Check with trusted retailers or larger nurseries, especially if they’ve been able to go to the grower or nursery and have seen its best management practices in action. Like any industry, word of mouth is often the best way to find a good source. What happens if a shipment arrives at a road station for inspection and it has a pest or disease? “It depends on the situation and what the pest is,” Scott says. A risk analysis can determine what kind of pest or disease is present. If unwanted, it would mean the shipment would likely be

March/April 2020 TNLA Green


International Trade: Step by Step The USDA breaks down what you need to know about exporting to a foreign country border protection. If customs border protection agricultural specialists or officers find a concerning pest or disease, they’ll As an export certification specialist, she handles phone work with USDA APHIS to identify it, says Stuart Kuehn, calls from nurseries and other green business owners distressed director of USDA APHIS for Texas. about a plant shipment being held or rejected in a foreign “Then we make the identification of the pest and determine country. In many cases, the shipment fails to make entry if it is a pest of quarantine significance, and depending on the because critical steps in the exporting process, inspection, and pest and if it is an actionable pest, certification were skipped, but it’s the importer is given the options often too late. It’s a miracle that we can control to treat, reexport, or destroy the “It’s very difficult to help when host it was found on,” he says. [a shipment] is gone,” she says. “I anything. But when the pest comes in In other words, not all is lost if have to give them the bad news here, it’s very difficult. It’s a warfare. there is treatment for the pest that there is not a lot we can do.” It is us against the pests. or disease. But there are ways Loftus works in the Austin office to avoid getting to that point by of the United States Department being vigilant at the point of origin. of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine program, Plan Ahead When Exporting the federal agency responsible for safeguarding American The first thing to know about exporting to a foreign country is agriculture. The agency works with the Texas Department of it can be tricky, because shipping overseas is similar to moving Agriculture (TDA) and other organizations to ensure proper plant product in the United States: Each state, each country has protocols are followed to avoid the importing and exporting of its own rules and requirements that must be followed. That’s harmful pests, pathogens, and diseases. why contacting USDA APHIS early in the process can help Part of those protocols includes import shipments ensure safe delivery of the shipment to its final destination. undergoing inspections at ports of entry, through customs and IT HAPPENS MORE OFTEN than Amy Loftus would like.


TNLA Green March/April 2020

International Trade: Step by Step “The sooner we can discuss the process, allowing plenty of time to figure things out, the better,” Loftus says. Plant protection and quarantine export certification specialists like Loftus guide exporters through each step, which often begins at the USDA APHIS website, www.aphis.usda. gov/aphis/home. The site covers all things exporting, from frequently asked questions about phytosanitary certification, industry standards required for wood packaging materials (known as ISPM 15), and accessing the webpage, Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance and Tracking (PCIT) System. (Note: PCIT is a secure website, so you will need a user account to gain access.) Exporters are also directed to the Phytosanitary Export Database (PExD), which contains entry requirements provided by Houston, Texas the National Plant Protection Organization of each country. The database lists acceptable packing materials for shipments, harmful organisms, prohibited and restricted products, approved points of entry, foreign points of contact, required testing or treatment information, and any other rules for specific commodities. (Note: PExD has a secure database for tracking phytosanitary certificates. To gain access to this, you’ll need to contact USDA APHIS.) One thing to keep in mind is the PExD database is for products grown in the U.S. If a product comes from another country and is then exported to a different country, there are other steps you’ll need to take. “When I begin working with an exporter, I always ask the questions, ‘What is the plant product, where was it grown, and what country is it going to?’ This helps me find the answers for them. It can be different to every country, to every product,” Loftus says. Another reason for contacting USDA APHIS early in the process is to learn if certain inspections or lab tests are required for plants or plant products requested for export outside the U.S. If a grower or exporter doesn’t allow enough time for the lab results and a treatment plan, in case pest or disease is found, it may become too late to ship the stock. In addition, some countries may require a quarantine of certain plants when a shipment arrives. The key is to plan ahead. Avoid Importing Hiccups As for importing, the country of origin must formally present its commodities for inspection destined to any U.S. port that allows formal or informal cargo entries, and these shipments should

come with the required import permits and other phytosanitary certifications that confirm they are free of pests and diseases not allowed in the state or U.S. Otherwise, they will be held or rejected. Among the pests and diseases Texas does not want are Asian citrus canker, citrus greening, emerald ash borer, Japanese beetle, and red imported fire ants. The importer needs to obtain a permit to import the products, and depending on the plant material, the turnaround time may be up to 30 days. The growth of the green industry in Texas brings with it a growing concern about pests and diseases, says Aniwash Bhatkar, Ph.D., the coordinator for biosecurity and agriculture resource management at TDA. Not only are Texas goods like grapefruit and pecans popular in other parts of the world, Houston has become one of the busiest ports in the world. Supertankers are bringing in and taking out more containers than ever before. “How would we inspect all that? We’re dealing with microbes. On a supertanker, how would we observe that?” he asks. “It’s a miracle that we can control anything. But when the pest comes in here, it’s very difficult. It’s a warfare. It is us against the pests.” That’s why knowing what to do and whom to contact for answers to questions is critical for international trade. And whether you’re importing or exporting, always plan ahead. Otherwise, you might find yourself having to make a desperate phone call. TNLA



Helpful Websites

USDA APHIS: Plant Health Export Information: export/export_services_program Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance and Tracking System: export/sa_pcit/ct_pcit Phytosanitary Export Database (PExD) Country Information: Secure Tracking Site for Phytosanitary Certificates:

March/April 2020 TNLA Green


Palms in Lethal Decline Texas works to contain lethal bronzing, prevent lethal yellowing from wiping out palm trees A DEADLY PLANT DISEASE that decimates palm trees has

the entire state of Florida and parts of Texas under quarantine. Previously known as Texas Phoenix Palm Decline, lethal bronzing is caused by phytoplasma and primarily attacks date palms. But it can strike other species of palms, according to Kevin Ong, Ph.D., associate department head for extension programs in the Texas A&M University Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology. “Lethal bronzing may be a new name, but the disease is nothing new,” Dr. Ong says. “In the 1970s, a bunch of Canary Island palms died in Corpus Christi. We didn’t know what it was at the time but suspected it may have been lethal bronzing.” As Dr. Ong explains, that event serves as an illustration of the impact lethal bronzing can have on the landscaping industry. Infected palm trees turn yellow, rot, and lose their leaves and fruit prior to maturation. Mature palms with the disease prematurely drop most or all of their fruits. The spear leaf dies relatively early in the disease development process. The flowers then die, followed by discoloration of foliage,


TNLA Green March/April 2020

which begins at leaf tips. Leaves may briefly turn yellow and then transform into varying shades of reddish-brown to dark brown or gray. At this point, the plant can’t survive. Under Quarantine Currently, Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces, and Willacy counties, as well as parts of Kleberg and Harris counties are under quarantine to prevent lethal bronzing’s spread. Dr. Ong says how lethal bronzing spreads isn’t clearly understood. “We have good guesses: It may spread through an insect vector known as the leafhopper. At this point, we have just circumstantial evidence,” he says. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has guidance for shipping palms from quarantined areas of Texas when accompanied by TDA-issued phytosanitary certificate under these conditions: • Quarantined palms located within 1 mile of a known infected tree may not move from the quarantined area for

Palms in Lethal Decline

TDA has guidelines regarding importing palm trees from Florida. Visit PlantQuality/PestandDiseaseAlerts for more information. Battling Another Disease As the state fights to contain lethal bronzing, it’s also on guard against another devastating plant disease — lethal yellowing, which targets coconut trees and hasn’t yet been found in Texas. The entire state of Florida, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Territory of Guam are under quarantine for lethal yellowing disease. “One of the main reasons lethal yellowing hasn’t spread to Texas may be because we don’t really have coconuts here. Lethal yellowing has been found in Louisiana, which I thought was surprising. The disease in Louisiana infected some of the ornamental palms, not coconuts. Lethal yellowing could show up on some other type of palm here in Texas,” Dr. Ong warns. If you observe any symptoms of lethal bronzing or lethal yellowing on palm trees, immediately inform the TDA office nearest you. To find your regional office, visit www. TNLA


TDA Q&A: Lethal Bronzing Lethal bronzing, previously known as Texas Phoenix Palm Decline, has a devastating impact on date palms and other palm species. Infected trees turn yellow, rot, and lose their leaves and fruit before the fruit is mature. No cure for the disease has been discovered. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has these answers to frequently asked questions to assist green industry professionals in managing this disease.

What types of palms are affected? The regulated palms include:

• Date palm, Phoenix dactylifera • Canary Island date palm, Phoenix canariensis • Silver or sylvester date palm, Phoenix sylvestrisS • Queen palm, Syagrus romanzoffiana • Cabbage palm or sabal palm, Sabal palmetto

What can Texas nurseries do?

Nurseries can monitor for symptoms of lethal bronzing on quarantined palms, whether grown in Texas or imported from other states. If you observe suspected symptoms, notify the nearest TDA regional office for inspection and diagnosis. To find your regional office, visit www.texasagriculture. gov/About/ RegionalOperations.

Which Texas counties are under quarantine?

Source: Texas Department of Agriculture;

a period of six months following removal of an infected tree. • Quarantined palms can move after six months if no other infected trees are found within a mile radius. Quarantined palms located more than 1 mile and less than 2 miles from known infected trees must be inspected within 24 hours prior to shipment with no symptoms of lethal decline apparent, and they must have been treated with a pesticide labeled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and approved by TDA, using the label directions for leafhopper control for a period of three months prior to shipment. In addition, they must be treated within 48 hours prior to movement. • Quarantined palms located more than 2 miles from known infected trees must be inspected within 24 hours prior to shipment with no symptoms of lethal decline apparent; treated with a pesticide labeled by EPA and approved by TDA, using the label directions for leafhopper control for a period of six weeks prior to shipment; and additionally treated within 48 hours prior to movement. • The tools used in pruning and handling host plants may move from the quarantined area if disinfected with one part liquid household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) to four parts water or some other suitable disinfectant.

These Texas counties are under quarantine: • Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces, and Willacy counties • Infected portions of Kleberg County • Parts of Harris County For updated quarantine information, visit www. RegulatoryPrograms/ PlantQuality/ PestandDiseaseAlerts.

Who can I contact for more information?

Questions may be directed to TDA’s Gulf Coast Regional Office in Houston. Call 713.921.8200.


March/April 2020 TNLA Green


GREEN Vision

By Mengmeng Gu, Ph.D., and Bin Wu

Crapemyrtle Bark Scale Brought Him Business

“CRAPEMYRTLE BARK SCALE (CMBS) brought us a lot of new business,” a former student from Mississippi State University told me at our most recent CMBS stakeholder meeting in conjunction with Gulf State Horticulture Expo in Mobile, Ala. He owns a small landscaping company in Jackson, Miss. He contacted me in 2018, when crape myrtles started to blacken due to sooty mold in Mississippi. Of course, we now know that sooty mold causing the black color on leaves or stems is not the primary problem. It is always some kind of sucking insects, such as scale, aphids, and white flies that secrete honeydew. The sooty mold fungus grows on the honeydew. In this case, it was CMBS. He did research and reached out to us. As a leader of our CMBS research/ outreach group, I told him all I knew about CMBS whenever he or his employees contacted me. He became skilled at treating these blackened crape


TNLA Green March/April 2020

myrtles, earning a reputation and a lot of new business. Many of his competitors simply do not know what CMBS is, not to mention how to treat it. He is continuously educating himself on the issue, actively participating in CMBS events and stakeholder meetings. He was not only seeking useful information but went a step further. He agreed to help us conduct trials in Jackson, Miss., and wants to be part of research to answer the questions for which we do not yet have answers. He will gain firsthand experience. At the university, we don’t always have all the resources we need to answer the questions from our current research. For example, we are looking for enough uniform, fresh CMBS-infested crape myrtle plants in landscapes for our chemical trials. We need plants meeting all those conditions. It’s not easy, especially when we have done many landscape trials in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

For the first time, Mike Merchant, Ph.D., sent an email to our county horticulture agents in the area to notify them we’re looking for plants suitable for trials. We can’t do trials on a single plant and then make recommendations based on the results from one plant. The result could be pure (bad) luck. We need enough plants to replicate the treatments so that at the end we are highly confident in what we’re telling you. “What’s the impact of your research/ extension?” As an extension specialist for ornamentals, we get this question often. And my associate department head always asked me this question during my annual evaluation. With ever decreasing budgets at all levels (federal, state, agency, and department), we are formally or informally required to justify every dollar we request or spend in grants. I have been working on CMBS since 2014. Now I have one more impact to brag about regarding our CMBS work: more business. Do you have a potential trial site with enough uniform, fresh CMBS-infested crape myrtle plants in landscapes for our chemical trials? Do you want to gain firsthand experience with CMBS trials? Let me know and we will talk. TNLA


MENGMENG GU, PH.D., is associate professor/extension specialist in the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Department of Horticultural Sciences. Her email address is BIN WU is a Ph.D. student working on crapemyrtle bark scale in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University. Email him at

March/April 2020 TNLA Green



Focus on disease and insects

By Kevin Ong, Ph.D., and Erfan Vafaie

Risk Assessments for Insect and Disease Management

tions may realize include reducing shipping inspections and certification costs, growing healthier plants due to improved targeted pest management practices, and gaining a marketing edge. Let’s be clear: Much work needs to be done up front in the SANC certification process. An important step in the road to SANC certification is the risk assessment stage in which the greenhouse or nursery takes a close look at its operations to identify hazards. Recognizing hazards allows for the identification of critical control points (CCPs) where best management practices (BMPs) can be implemented. Without a doubt, you likely recognized potential hazards that may threaten your greenhouse or nursery operations. You are also likely to know some of the main sources of insect pests and pathogens at your location (recognizing CCPs). Read on, as we have outlined some common areas that should receive special attention (see Definitions, opposite page). SHIPPING/RECEIVING

New plant material coming in can be a source of insects or diseases, so keeping incoming plants in quarantine until inspected is good practice. Consult the plant material supplier if the material is infested, and don’t move it out of quarantine unless the insect/disease has been treated, or the plants are being culled or shipped back. SYSTEMS APPROACH TO NURSery Certification (SANC) is a national audit-based program to “enhance safe interstate movement” of plant materials within the United States. The National Plant Board explored the idea for such a system in its 2002 review titled Preventing the introduction of plant pathogens into the United States:


TNLA Green March/April 2020

the role and application of the Systems Approach and in pilot SANC programs beginning in 2014. Since then, 20 nurseries and greenhouse operations have participated in the SANC program. Of those, 10 have been certified; others are somewhere in the process (with one withdrawn from the program). Some benefits SANC-certified opera-


Weeds in and around growing areas are not just unsightly; they can be a reservoir for insects and diseases. Removing weeds or even unmanaged (to-beculled) plants in a timely manner will help drastically reduce pest and disease pressure on marketable plants. Nearby trees, landscapes, and forests can also be

Focus on disease and insects a source of insect and plant diseases. We don’t suggest bulldozing all things green within a several mile radius (although that would reduce pest influx). A more practical (and less sinister) plan would be setting traps, such as yellow sticky cards, ethanol traps, pheromone traps, or Lindgren funnel traps around the pe-

rimeter between unmanaged habitats and your crop. Several other sources of pest and pathogen introduction exist in the surrounding environment around production areas. Identifying them and outlining best management practices for your operation can greatly reduce future headaches (see Figure 1, below).

DEFINITIONS Hazard: Area/situation of operations that could cause harm to plant products by contamination and/or introduction of plant pests and pathogens. Critical control points (CCPs): Point, step, or procedure in which action can be taken to prevent, suppress, eliminate, or reduce risk of pest/pathogen introduction. Best management practices (BMPs): The actions, such as treatments or practices that can be implemented to reduce and/or eliminate risk associated with the hazard. Figure 1


SYNONYMOUS SYSTEM IN FOOD SAFETY Potential sources of bacteria or other diseases are kept out of our food supply through the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system. This system identifies specific points or parts of food processing that are at risk of contamination. Guidance and action plans address hazards monitoring at the specific point (critical control points) to limit and potentially eliminate risk of food contamination to protect human health.


Other critical control points at a greenhouse and nursery operation include propagation (both from external and internal sources), media and containers (mixing and storage facilities), and water (supply, irrigation, and drainage). Growers who have become SANC certified have learned a lot through the process of systematically identifying potential hazards, best management practices, and personnel responsible for oversight. Even if becoming SANC certified doesn’t make sense for you, this process is greatly beneficial for reducing instances of insect pests and plant pathogens (see Figure 2, left). TNLA


Figure 2

Source: SANC CCP Checklist and BMP Companion for Nursery/Greenhouse Inspection;

BUGS (ERFAN VAFAIE) and FUZZ (KEVIN ONG) work for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Vafaie is an extension program specialist (IPM) located at the Texas A&M Research & Extension Center in Overton. Ong is the associate department head for extension programs in the Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology based at Texas A&M College Station, where he also directs the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab.

March/April 2020 TNLA Green



TNLA would like to welcome its new members. If you would like to become a member or if you have any questions or concerns about your current membership, please contact us at 800.880.0343. Visit to learn about the benefits of becoming a member of TNLA. REGION 1 Arborist Urban Soil Scott Anderson 137 W Specht Road San Antonio, TX 78260 Landscape – Individual Jesse Maldonado Maldonado Landscape Company 5 Hillview Lane Boerne, TX 78006 REGION 2 Grower Wholesale Gardens Brad Thompson 1400 Anderson Bellaire, TX 77401 Landscape xo design group Robert Kreuzburg 622 E 27th St. Houston, TX 77008

Student Christin Capiro Houston Community College 29006 Dove Lane Katy, TX 77493 Supplier fun abounds Leigh Walden 114 Venice St. Sugar Land, TX 77478 REGION 4 Landscape Dynamic Landscapes & Designs LLC Melanie Drury 7016 Rosebrook Colleyville, TX 76034 Supplier Allen Insurance Group Will Allen 1120 W. Eldorado Parkway Little Elm, TX 75068

Landscape – Individual Jodi Joseph, TCLP Landcare – Houston 15255 Vintage Preserve Parkway #3107 Houston, TX 77070

New TNLA Certified Professionals Aaron Flores - Rainbow Gardens #1 Raymond Rodriguez - Rainbow Gardens #1 Texas Certified Landscape Associate (TCLA) Michael McLeon – Windham School District Hector Olvera - Texans Can Academy - Austin


TNLA Green March/April 2020

REGION 5 Irrigation Jake’s Lawn Care Jeff Kauffman 7228 Kingswood Drive Fort Worth, TX 76132 Landscape Bairrington Landscaping Inc. Phil Bairrington P.O. Box 34599 Fort Worth, TX 76132

Landscape – Individual Mark McNabb Pampered Lawns Austin, Inc. 13805 Dragline Drive Austin, TX 78728 OUT OF STATE Grower Super Ron’s Nursery 5541 Old Moffat Road Wilmer, AL 36587 Supplier Purple Wave Auction Penny Hughs 825 Levee Drive Manhattan, KS 66502

Landscape – Individual Keith Vrbea 5580 FM 455 West Sanger, TX 76266 Student Sonya Gonnella North Central Texas College P.O. Box 22 Era, TX 76238 REGION 8 Government Benjamin Shields University of Texas 17824 Glacier Bay St. Pflugerville, TX 78660

Round Grove Products LLC Scott Widmer 12980 Arnold Road Dalton, OH 44618 Wacker Neuson Wacker Neuson Dave Murphy 8 Speckle Trout Route Spanish Fort, AL 36527

TNLA Green March/April 2020 Advertiser Index Newton Nursery...........................................inside front cover Creekside Nursery.................................................................03 Simmons Oak Farms.............................................................05 Hotchkiss Insurance .............................................................. 11 Spring Meadow Nursery.................................................. 12, 23 Texas Mutual .........................................................................13 TreeTown USA....................................................................... 23 Douglass King Seeds............................................................. 24 OHP................................................................inside back cover Horizon Irrigation.................................................... back cover

TNLA offers a variety of opportunities for packages, find one that fits your company’s current marketing structure or work with TNLA to build a package better suited for your business. Email us: advertising@

March/April 2020 TNLA Green



4. Move them forward in their careers by presenting them with specific job-related challenges

According to the article Finding the Green Industry’s Future Workforce, what does Sam Weger say will “expose the retail nursery industry to students who have not thought about that as a career choice?” 1. Short school field trips 2. Plant donations 3. Student internships 4. Industry waiting for employees to show up

According to the article Crossing State Lines, a failed road station inspection could: 1. Lead to a quarantine on materials or stock being sent back to the place of origin 2. Result in destruction of materials entirely, resulting in a potential loss of thousands of dollars 3. Cause an infestation to break out 4. All of the above

According to the article Finding the Green Industry’s Future Workforce, what does Calloway’s Nursery do once they’ve found talented employees? 1. Work them as hard as they can to test them even further 2. Tell them not to expect much pay in this industry 3. Work them in the smallest roles first to see how they do

According to the article Crossing State Lines, it is important to: 1. Make sure you know all the loopholes on how to avoid inspection sites 2. Become familiar with the pests and diseases that are unwanted around the country 3. Know plenty of alternative routes to navigate around inspection sites 4. Have a driver that has no clue about pests and diseases


TNLA Green March/April 2020

According to the article Crossing State Lines, all states have the same rules and regulations when it comes to transporting plant material across state lines. 1. True 2. False According to the article Crossing State Lines, what is among the most popular exported plants from Texas? 1. Shrubs 2. Perennials 3. Groundcover/vine 4. Turf According to the article Palms in Lethal Decline, what was previously known as Texas Phoenix Palm Decline? 1. Lethal bronzing 2. Cycad scale 3. Palm rust 4. Crown gall

March/April 2020 TNLA Green



TNLA Green March/April 2020