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Master Gardener Conference Schedule

Friday, April 8, 2022

Roundtable IPM Discussion

1 – 4 p.m.

Elizabeth Rowen: Is Tillage Good or Bad for Invertebrate IPM?

A discussion on the uses of tillage in arthropod and slug pest management – especially focusing on what we know about its effects on pests and predators.

Rakesh Chandran: Japanese Knotweed Control

Japanese knotweed is a non-native invasive weed prevalent in West Virginia. Given its aggressive growth habits and perennating organs that can extend 40 to 60 feet from the point of growth, management efforts have to be aggressive as well to tame it. Dr. Chandran will offer some research-based integrated methods (mechanical and chemical) methods to help control Japanese knotweed.

Yong-Lak Park: Management of Mile-a-minute Weed Using Natural Enemy Insects

Mile-a-minute is a fast-growing invasive weed widely dispersed in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States. In this workshop, Dr. Park will review current research at West Virginia University regarding the development of biocontrol strategy by using drones for the detection of the weed and aerial release of natural enemy insects.

Mahfuz Rahman: Prediction Based Spray Program to Reduce the Use of Fungicides/Bactericides

Plant disease occurs when a susceptible host and a disease-causing pathogen meet in a favorable environment. In other words, if weather is not favorable for disease occurrence and development, no measures are necessary for controlling the disease. Favorable disease condition encompasses specific hours of leaf wetness (usually influenced by rain, cloudiness, relative humidity, dew, etc.) and prevailing temperature. Due to the availability of weather stations derived relatively accurate data, these can be utilized in prediction model. Fungicide or bactericide spray program can be tied with the forecast to improve application timing and avoid unnecessary chemical spray. This in turn minimizes human health risk from chemical residue and environmental pollution.

Carlos Quesada: Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect from Asia that has been reported in Berkeley, Mineral, Jefferson and Hampshire counties in West Virginia. Because it can feed on more than 70 different plant species, spotted lanternfly is a serious economic threat to multiple industries, including viticulture, fruit trees, ornamentals and timber.

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WVMGA Board and Committee Meeting

4 – 5 p.m.

Open to West Virginia Master Gardeners.

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Saturday, April 9, 2022

Opening Keynote: Five Elements and Principles of Design

Claire Schuchman
9 – 10:15 a.m.

In this workshop, we will take a look at the design guidelines that landscape designers use to inform their work. Claire will discuss Simplicity, Rhythm and Line, Balance, Proportion and Focal Point. These guidelines create the underpinning or structure on which the details of the landscape can be built. We will also take a look at some of the processes Claire and her team at Exceptional Gardens use to help conceptualize a new landscape. Finally, once the underpinnings are in place, we will talk about how to integrate vegetables and herbs right into the landscape.

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1-A: Growing Berries

Eric Freeland
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Growing raspberries and strawberries, both June-bearing and everbearing, will be discussed. Topics will include raised beds, drip irrigation, mulches, soil improvements and growing in gutter systems.

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1-B: Using Irises in the Landscape

Carol Warner
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Carol‘s program will focus on different types of irises in the landscape to produce a long season of bloom for your garden. Most of her pictures are taken in her garden.  Take a preview peek of her presentation by visiting her website here:

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1-C: Right Tree, Right Place

Karen Cox
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

A healthy mature tree has been shown to improve home values by up to 14%, lower energy costs and reduce drainage issues. However, too often the wrong tree in the wrong place leads to expensive maintenance, infrastructure damage, tree decline and eventual removal. Selecting the right tree for the right space is the foundation of maintaining a healthy tree. In this program, you will learn how to match tree characteristics with site conditions. Knowledge that will help you make good decisions on long-term investments and key visual features of your home. 

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1-D: Apple Bitter Rot and Black Rot Disease Management

Srdjan Acimovic
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Apple bitter rot is caused by different fungi from genus Colletotrichum. This talk will present new information on which species cause apple bitter rot disease in the Mid-Atlantic and new options for management of apple bitter rot generated through fungicide efficacy trials, while reflecting on standard options for black rot control. With the challenges of climate change-driven increases in unpredictable weather patterns, which bring more hot summer days, rain and storm events that favor disease development, it is important to implement and integrate new tools in the grower toolbox to successfully control apple diseases and secure production profitability, but at the same time not risk development of resistance to fungicides in apple pathogens. 

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2-A: Native Pollen and Nectar Sources for Honeybees

Shanda King
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

The importance of pollen and nectar and how both are used within honeybee colonies will be presented as well as plant species of interest when choosing native perennials, trees and shrubs for your garden.

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2-B: Peonies – Herbaceous, Tree and ITOH Hybrids

Carol Warner
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

This program will focus on the many forms and colors of peonies and also on cultural aspects of both herbaceous and tree peonies and their hybrids. The bloom period for peonies in Carol's garden lasts from April through June, but the foliage display contributes to the garden for the entire growing season.

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2-C: Controlling Pests with IPM and Beneficials

Barbara Liedl
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Integrated pest management is a process you can use to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. General IPM principles will be discussed with an emphasis on using beneficials. Examples of pests and beneficials will be discussed as well as successes and failures.   

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2-D: Preserving Our Heritage by Preserving Our Heirloom Plants

Mira Danilovich
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

There is a way to save that favorite but old and declining tree. Come and learn the best technique to ensure that the tree lives and provides joy to the next three, five or more generations of your family. 

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3-A: Sustainable Coexistence of Weeds in a Cornfield

Rakesh Chandran
4 – 5 p.m.

Agricultural weeds have the potential to cause significant crop loss. Conventional weed management practices have aimed to keep crop fields free from weeds through the broadcast application of herbicides. However, these practices could have damaging consequences on the surrounding environment. Dr. Chandran and his team have developed a more sustainable herbicide application regime that allows weeds to coexist with corn crops at acceptable levels, with the aim of improving environmental health with marginal yield penalties. 

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3-B: Backyard Biodiversity Utilizing Native Plants

Roxanne Swan
4 – 5 p.m.

Discover the variety of life that may exist in your own backyard and how you can utilize native trees, shrubs and perennials as well as landscape concepts that will provide essential elements to create functional landscaping that will enhance wildlife habitat. Roxanne will introduce a variety of native plant species, their attributes and growing conditions. You will also learn to identify habitat requirements for beneficial insects, songbirds and other beneficial backyard wildlife. Roxanne will also introduce sustainable landscape concepts.

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3-C: A Closer Look: Bug and Botanical Portrait Photography

Danae Wolfe
4 – 5 p.m.

With just a few simple tools and some practice, high magnification photography can be an accessible and fun way to highlight the tiniest details of your garden. In this session, we’ll explore low-cost macro photography setups and techniques, including reverse lens, extension tubes and mobile macro tips. Get ready to see the world through an entirely new lens!

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3-D: Integrated Management of Tomato Diseases

Mahfuz Rahman
4 – 5 p.m.

Tomatoes can be affected by many different foliar and soilborne diseases. Some of these diseases can be very destructive if not managed optimally. No single measure can be highly effective to keep the disease under complete control. Although highly-effective chemicals are available for controlling important diseases, resistance in pathogen population against products can develop to make the whole disease management system unsustainable. That’s why integrated disease management using multiple tactics is preferred over any single tactic. This has the potential to minimize use of chemicals without compromising the level of disease control, reduce adverse effect on environment and human health.

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Sunday, April 10, 2022

Closing Keynote: Addressing Childhood Obesity in West Virginia: Garden-based Learning for Our Elementary Schools' Curriculum

Chuck Talbott
9 – 10:15 a.m.

According to the Center for Disease Control, West Virginia has consistently been in the top five states for childhood obesity. Our garden-based learning program offers a unique opportunity to address this risk factor. Research shows that if kids grow their own food, they are more likely to consume it. Furthermore, students may improve their math and science skills using hands-on, experiential learning techniques, i.e., STEM and FOSS. Since 2014, our GBL schools have received over $4,000 from the Farm to School program for the produce they have sold and consumed in their cafeteria.  Over 2,400 students from 11 elementary schools are growing their own food, safely harvesting it, documenting how much they grew, evaluating whether they liked or disliked it (a new vegetable), and learning a little bit about nutrition and business.

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4-A: The Effect of Simulated Climate Change on Petunia Flower Development and Flowering Time

Nicole Waterland
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Plants are exposed to environmental stresses every day. Stress can be caused by water deficit, elevated temperature and/or atmospheric CO 2. Such environmental factors are known to be the major driving forces of climate change. Climate change can significantly affect the development of flowers critical for seed and fruit production. Consequently, it could alter the timing of flowering, resulting in asynchrony between pollinators and plants and reduction of crop yield. 

In this session, the potential impact of environmental factors on flower development using a popular ornamental plant, petunia, will be discussed. She will also discuss how climate change could affect the relationship between horticulture crops and their pollinators.

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4-B: What Is Making That Sound, and Is It Venomous?

Sheldon Owen
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Get to know some of the cold-blooded critters that may visit your garden. During this presentation, we will discuss some of the common reptiles and amphibians that can be found in your backyard. We will even listen to a few common frog calls that may conduct an evening serenade.

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4-C: How To Find Traits With Activity Against Pests in Wild Tomato Species and Reintroduce Them Into Cultivated Tomato

Michael Gutensohn 
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Due to their sessile lifestyle, plants face many challenges through interactions with their environment and thus have evolved distinct strategies to defend themselves against pests. Toward this goal, plants produce a wide variety of natural compounds that contribute directly to the defense against pests by acting as repellents or toxins, and indirectly by attracting natural enemies. While in wild plants these defensive traits are preserved to increase survival, they have been lost or compromised in crop plants because selective breeding has favored other agronomic traits. Dr. Gutensohn will give a few examples, including the tomato, of how traits with activity against pests can be identified in wild species, and what options we have to re-introduce these traits into cultivated crops.

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4-D: Seed Saving for Vegetables

Lewis Jett
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Saving seed is a fundamental practice of gardening in Appalachia. Many open pollinated varieties can be selected and harvested for superior traits. This workshop will overview seed saving practices for many heritage vegetables commonly grown in West Virginia and Central Appalachia.

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