Sessions Information

Below is a description of each conference session. Please refer to the schedule for the day to see when each session is offered, and check out the speaker bio page for info about each presenter.


Potential Effects of Climate Change on Peony Growers

Due in part to our northern climate, Alaskan peony growers are uniquely placed to take advantage of the market during July, August and September. But Alaska’s climate is changing; indeed, as a result of the complex feedback loops triggered by melting ice caps, thawing permafrost, and increased forest fire, climate is changing faster here than in almost any other part of the world.

Will this change affect the peony industry?  Will impacts be positive or negative? How might growers adapt?  Nancy Fresco will present the latest climate change research from UAF, field questions from the audience, and discuss possible outcomes.

Managing Weeds in Peonies

Weeds are the bane of field production systems in all agricultural and horticultural crops all around the world. Tim Miller will discuss the problem and describe some of the research he has conducted managing weeds in peonies, as well as systems and herbicides used in other crops.  He will also suggest some ideas that should help growers combat these invasive, troublesome plants.

Alaska Grown Marketing and Export

Update on the Alaska Grown Marketing Program and Export

Land Selection & Soil Preparation for New Peony Farms

Finding the right piece of property to farm can be very challenging! There are many considerations to think about. I will show you some tools that can help you select a property. Proper soil preparation can either make or break your farm. I will discuss common mistakes and ways to avoid them. Lastly, a brief overview of the importance of soil testing will be covered. 

Market your Peonies with Beautiful Photography

Tips for great photos of your farm and flowers! Greg Martin will discuss various techniques to help improve the quality of your photos. Specifically so the photos are more suited for marketing purposes. While it is helpful to be able to photograph using a DSLR camera, many of the tips will  apply to those that use a simple point and shoot camera or even a phone camera. Lots of example photos will be shown to illustrate. Questions will be encouraged!

Peony micronutrient deficiency, leaf colors, what do we know about them?

Micronutrient deficiencies usually occur in high pH soils, and soils with a long history of agriculture.  Micronutrient deficiency was found in peonies in interior Alaska in 2005, and zinc was proposed as the one that was in deficiency based on the symptoms. This proposal was approved in a field experiment in 2016 by spraying a zinc solution in deficient peony plants.  Zinc deficiency in peonies was corrected after spraying in the early growing season.  
Micronutrient deficiency is also related to plant diseases which are proved in cereal crops.  However, a few unknown incidences in peonies in the state might be associated with micronutrient deficiency.  Also, there are leaf colors observed in the past summer, which are still a mystery to peony research and growers’ community.  This presentation will show the exploratory work in those areas.

Why Cooperatives?

What can cooperatives add to the peony industry?  What are cooperatives and how are they different than other types of businesses?  What are their benefits?  Where do they work best? How do they fit with the Alaska peony industry? What are the challenges and pitfalls to setting them up and running them?

Effects of various mulching strategies on soil temperatures at root level

A critical piece of information for the successful, sustained growth of the peony industry in Alaska, is whether or not winter mulching significantly impacts soil temperatures. Many growers insist mulching with straw is essential for ensuring peony root survivorship; others downplay the effects of straw and assert maintaining or augmenting winter snow cover is the only requirement; still others claim frost blankets or peat are necessary. However, for a large commercial grower, the procurement, distribution, and use of several thousand bales of straw, or a ton of peat, or miles of frost blankets has a significant expense in both time and money, particularly if there are no measurable differences in soil temperatures between mulched and uncovered soils. If, however, mulching is important for winter survivorship of peonies, particularly during years of limited or no snow accumulation and extreme temperatures, then the time and money associated with winter mulching are a necessary inconvenience and appropriate expense to ensure survivorship of valuable flowers.

Peony Protection and Pest Management

Early results of trials to control annual weeds and insect pests will be presented. Some early thoughts on how to combine herbicides and insecticides as part of an integrated pest management program for peonies will be offered. The importance of scouting for pests will be emphasized as well as what to do and who to contact if a new pest is identified.

Peony Disease Research Update

This presentation will seek to update growers on the important peony disease research findings from Washington State University since the last APGA conference.  Topics will include Botrytis disease development and environmental monitoring in the Pacific Northwest, the 2016 Alaskan peony disease survey results, and updates on Botrytis species diversity in Alaska.  

Thrips and Seasonality of Pests in Alaska Peonies

Thrips are a primary export issue for Alaska peonies.  These minute insects damage peonies and can transmit plant diseases.  In the 2014-2015 Fairbanks study, thrips primarily migrated into the field from surrounding vegetation beginning in May and attacked peonies as young as Stage 1.  This coincided with the first peak in thrips activity.  Fairbanks populations experienced a single generation/year, around mid-June, while in the Kenai, a smaller peak was observed mid-June, followed by the largest population peak mid-July and thus can experience a second generation.  Results from bud dissections representing 42 cultivars from the Georgeson Botanical Garden, suggested there were no thrips resistant cultivars, (2 cultivars did not have thrips but represented low sample numbers). Bud color and location appears to influence intra-field movement during the season but initially stage 1 buds do not exhibit any color. In addition, sticky cards were evaluated to determine seasonality of aphids and lygus. 

What I Learned Last Summer

Pat Holloway will discuss the results of her final research projects at UAF - the good, the bad and the confusing -  and share methods of record keeping for growers.

FSA Assistance Available for Peony Growers

Farm Service Agency has loan programs and risk management programs available for peony growers to utilize when starting, maintaining or expanding their operation.  This will be a discussion of how these programs may benefit you in your farm operation.

Turning Waste Peony Leaves into Green Chemicals: An Exploratory Study

This talk presents an exploratory study that demonstrates the feasibility of deriving renewable chemicals from waste flower leaves and thus adding value to such agro-based waste materials. This preliminary study derived a liquid corrosion inhibitor through a zero-waste chemical and biological process that readily degrades the waste peony leaves. The effect of 0 to 3 vol.% of this peony-leaves-sourced inhibitor on the corrosion behavior of C1010 steel in 3.5 wt.% NaCl was investigated over 16 days. The corrosion characteristics of the carbon steel was evaluated using linear polarization resistance (LPR) method periodically and using potentiodynamic polarization (PDP) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) at day 16. The inhibitor derived from peony leaves exhibited promising inhibition efficiency of 65.8%, when added at 3 vol.%. This is the first report of a zero-waste process of deriving corrosion inhibitor from organic wastes, enabled by the biological approach. For the peony leaves extract, the main active ingredient is 1-docosanoyl-glycero-3-phosphate that adsorbs onto the steel surface, blocks cathodic active sites, makes the surface hydrophobic, and facilitates the formation of a passive layer on the surface of carbon steel. Upon further optimization, this “green” inhibitor is a promising candidate for formulating long-lasting inhibitor packages.

Phytosanitary Certification Exporting Procedures

Interested in exporting Peonies to another country?  The importing country may require a Federal Phytosanitary Certificate.  The State of Alaska Division of Agriculture provides this service in cooperation with USDA-APHIS-PPQ to assist exporters in meeting the plant quarantine requirements of the importing country.  In this session, we will cover what you as an exporter will need to know to navigate the phytosanitary certification process.  The presentation will provide program overview, and will step you through the process of applying for certification, requesting a phytosanitary inspection, and what you as an industry user will need to know about the Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance and Tracking System (PCIT).  

Aditi Shenoy, Natural Resources Specialist
Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District

Managing Invasive Plants on Your Peony Farm

Non native invasive plants have become more prevalent in Alaska over the past few decades. If allowed to spread and become established, invasive plants can alter native ecosystems and have damaging consequences for natural resources. Learn about the commonly found invasive plants in Alaska, and how to prevent their spread on your peony farm.