Optimized sticking

Increasing Profits - Labor

With callused poinsettia cuttings from Selecta One, Young’s Plant Farm saves time and money.

August 24, 2022

Photo: Tom Costamagna

At Young’s Plant Farm in Auburn, Alabama, a key to their poinsettia production is growing 100% callused poinsettias. They’ve been doing so for roughly two decades, says Director of Horticulture Tom Costamagna, and in recent years have used genetics from Selecta One.

“The push to grow callused here was the lack of greenhouse space and propagation space,” he says. “For perspective, [the week of Aug. 8] is our first week of sticking poinsettias. We stick in week 32, again in week 33 and we’ll also stick again in week 36.”

The difference between a callused cutting and a standard cutting, Costamagna says, is how it looks when it sticks. A normal cutting takes 10 days once stuck to get callused — meaning the end of the cutting is bulbous and the plant cells are starting to thicken just prior to root initiation. By using callused cuttings, Young’s can shave 10-14 days off propagation.

“That’s when poinsettias are most vulnerable to fungus gnats and the stresses of heat and [other issues],” he says. “We are sticking poinsettias in the hottest point of the year. There’s a cost associated with it, but you can’t make up lost ground and time. Callused cuttings help us save time.”

Another benefit of callused poinsettia cuttings, Costamagna says, is that it helps save space, but also makes bringing in plant material safer for production. He says that, because Alabama is warmer than most states in the U.S., bringing in normal plant cuttings can cause heat damage and delays. Callused cuttings, he says, decrease the crop time of poinsettias and limit risk.

“We direct stick 100% of our poinsettias,” he says. “Whether it’s a 26-inch spec poinsettia all the way to down to a plant for Black Friday, the service it requires is tremendous. We stick around 1.4 million poinsettia cuttings and, historically, we propagate about 50% of our crop with fogging nozzles and not mist. It’s critical to use callused and get that quick rooting so you don’t have all the labor misting plants around the clock.”

When Young’s sticks poinsettias, Costamagna says it’s all hands on deck so they can stick as many as possible in a given day and do it as quickly as possible. Callused cuttings help with that process, too, he says, because it lessens the risk of a cutting being damaged.

“When you’re direct sticking [a normal cutting], you can damage the edge of the cutting,” he says. “With this callused cutting, it helps with the speed and uniformity getting into the spot. It reduces losses significantly.”

“Working with Selecta One is fantastic,” he adds. “They are fantastic in the whole process. We get samples [from them] to make sure they are to spec and that the callus is sufficient and that it matches what we’ve used historically. That’s critical, especially when you’re sticking the numbers we are.”