Healthy crops on the Central Coast
Photo courtesy of Lance Runels

Healthy crops on the Central Coast

Focusing on disease prevention ensures high-quality production of gladiolus at Glad-A-Way Gardens in Santa Maria, California.

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Glad-A-Way Gardens grows annually on about 500 acres of row crop farmland, harvesting more than a dozen different colors of gladioli all year long for cut flower markets throughout the United States and portions of Canada. More than 30 varieties are propagated yearly and provide new corm stock for future cut flower fields. “Most companies only grow for cut flowers and purchase their bulb stock – we produce all our own bulb stock in-house for our gladiolus flower production," says General Manager Lance Runels.

The company’s in-house breeding program headed up by long time breeder and grower Froylan Vasquez enables Glad-A-Way to bring improvements into the product offering each year. “Our ability to breed new varieties for enhanced colors, winter production and disease resistance while producing our own corm stock for each year’s cut flower production is the company’s ongoing pursuit,” Runels says. Glad-A-Way’s color offering ranges from traditional reds and whites to yellows, pinks, oranges, purples, burgundies, greens, lavenders, peaches and salmons, as well as other novelty colors – several colors come in both soft and hot-bright tones.

Foliar disease pressures from botrytis in the winter and spring, and rust in the summer and fall are common, so Glad-A-Way combats pathogens with a rigorous preventative fungicide program. Fungicides with the active ingredients boscalid and pyraclostrobin and triticonazole are part of Glad-A-Way’s preventative arsenal. Each fungicide is applied individually in a rotational schedule.

All fungicides are applied using normal clearance spray tractors until the crop reaches the height of about 30 inches. Final plant height is about 60-70 inches and requires high clearance spray equipment. Glad-A-Way prioritizes pesticide safety for both employees and consumers. “We strive to use the safest products available with short re-entry restrictions and the ‘Caution’ label identifier,” Runels says.

In May 2016 Runels visited a conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he learned about a new molecule (fluxapyroxad) combined with an old molecule (pyroclostrobin) in a fungicide. Following California EPA registration of this new fungicide, Glad-A-Way plans to begin testing it. By paying attention to safe, emerging disease prevention tools Glad-A-Way hopes to maintain consistent product quality and a high level of trust throughout the supply chain.