Minutes of the Woody Landscape Plants CGC meeting

July 12-13, 2005
Beltsville, MD

The meeting was preceded by an optional tour (led by Kevin Conrad) to the U.S. Botanic Garden and other gardens on the National Mall on Monday, 7/11/05.

In attendance: Pam Allenstein, Thomas Ayala-Silva, Mark Bohning, Peter Bretting (7/13), Michael Chamberland, Kevin Conrad, Ned Garvey, John Hammond, Kim Hummer, Rick Lewandowski (7/13), Margaret Pooler (acting secretary), Tim Rhinehart, Mark Roh, Bob Schutzki (via phone part of 7/12), Marc Teffeau (7/13), Alan Whittemore, Mark Widrlechner, Susan Wiegrefe (chair)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Meeting called to order at 8:10 am

Minutes of 2004 meeting (in Columbus, OH) were distributed. Rather than use meeting time to read through lengthy and detailed minutes, corrections will be sent to Susan Wiegrefe and she will send out approved minutes via email. Minutes will also be sent to Paul Talmadge of the HOCGC.

RFP for 2006 Evaluation proposals discussed briefly. The new RFP (revised in 2004) appears to be working as evidenced by the improvement in quality of the proposals received last year.

Membership directory was distributed for updates/corrections. Margaret will update and email to all members.

Sue Wiegrefe gave update on CGC involvement in Crop Recovery Act – the mandate to provide information on crops applied only to food and fiber, not ornamentals, so the CGC did not provide data. However, Sue realized in researching this project that it was difficult to find information on the value of ornamental crops. Discussion ensued about the need for data on the value per acre, total acreage, value per crop, etc. for ornamental crops. Perhaps ANLA could initiate a study on behalf of HOCGC and WLPCGC using NASS and ERS contacts. However, Marc Teffeau said there is already study by U.T. and U.F. (Economic Impacts of the Green Industry, available online at www.utextension.utk.edu/hbin/greenimpact.html). Also, Margaret cited the NASS study available online at www.nass.usda.gov/census/census97/horticulture/horticulture.htm (Chart 13, as well as others).


(Note that written reports were provided by these members, so the minutes reflect primarily what was not covered in the written report, or what was emphasized).

Tomas Ayala-Silva (SHRS – Miami) - Written report to be submitted. Highlights included the release a new cultiar in 2005, as well as collection trip to Puerto Rico focusing on tropical ornamental genera.

Marc Teffeau (ANLA). Outlined the three criteria that ANLA examines when making funding recommendations: 1) Does the research meet a regulatory need? 2) Does the research improve production efficiencies (with mechanization, genetic improvement, etc.)? or 3) Does the research involve marketing (new plants, promotion, branding, etc.)? The industry needs to recognize what the public sector (ARS, AABGA, Universities) does regarding genetic resources. Perhaps put a version of Pam’s “ Public Garden” article in American Nurseryman, NMPro, or one of the ANLA publications (ANLA Today; Grower News; e-news).

Mark Widrlechner ( Ames) - See written report. Highlights include hiring of a new curator (Jo-Ann McCoy) for medicinal plants, and cage increase for woody plants. Mark’s research continues to focus on risk assessment modeling of naturalization of non-native plants (as published in JEH Issue 1 of 2004). Both ANLA (M. Teffeau) and AABGA (R. Lewandowski) expressed support of Mark’s research.

Pam Allenstein (AABGA) - See written report. Highlights include three strategic goals (outlined in report). NAPCC has a revised, more aggressive recruiting plan to get new collections into NAPCC to expand the program. They are studying and partnering with database systems to facilitate the interface with different user systems.

Ned Garvey (NPGS) – See written report. NPGS/PGOC has created subcommittees. The Associate Germplasm Collection ( AGC) is developing recommendations for associated collections such as NAPCC to enable easier linkage with ARS. The InSitu subcommittee is devising strategies to link NPGS with (primarily) native US populations managed by the Forest Service or BLM.

Ned presented information on an agreement between ARS’s NCGRP ( Ft. Collins) and the Rose Lake PMC to preserve native Fraxinus germplasm in the Great Lakes area which is threatened by the emerald ash borer. Seed from four species on tribal and non-tribal land has been/will be collected and sent to NCGRP for long-term storage. Ames is the NPGS collection site, but does not have space to maintain all the plants suggested by this agreement.

The CGC supported the intent of this effort with ash, especially considering other emerging and past threats to germplasm (e.g. Phytophthora ramorum, Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight). Ideally, the germplasm would be preserved (preferably at multiple sites) as soon as the threat was recognized, rather than after the site was under attack. Perhaps the situation with ash can serve as a model for how NPGS can partner with other agencies ( BLM, Forest Service, NRCS, and NGOs such as AABGA, ANLA) to be proactive in preserving important germplasm from threats. A recommendation from the CGC to NPS (Peter Bretting, Rick Bennett) to this effect would be helpful.

11:00 – Conference call with Bob Schutzki about the 11/2004 visit to Glenn Dale and South Farm by the fact-finding subcommittee (B. Schutzki, Paul Cappiello, and Harold Pellett). The visit confirmed that there are soil and drainage problems at South Farm, and some species simply won’t survive there, and will have to go elsewhere (DC, BARC). WLPGR should target those species that are adapted to SF conditions. SF conditions put germplasm in jeopardy – must identify alternate sites, perhaps by farming out to NAPCC sites, or to other ARS sites. Also, it is important to know why material is being preserved – botanic value, potential commercial value – so that it can be maintained in a way that makes it possible to evaluate for these traits.

The WLPGR may be at a critical junction or turning point. External support (from ARS and outside) is necessary. The WLPCGC needs to submit a report based on the subcommittee report. Include problems with and threats to South Farm, alternative strategies to preserve germplasm (help from industry to bud/graft, tissue culture, re-collect seed, etc.), time necessary, horticultural recommendations (soil, planting, moving plants). An attached letter from ANLA and AABGA would strengthen the report. The report needs to focus on the state of the entire germplasm program, not just the state of South Farm (see also discussion on 7/13 about developing a vision statement, which could go into this document).

Kevin Conrad (WLPGR) - See handout. The repository is at a crossroads of sorts. Should it become more of a virtual collection by partnering more with NAPCC and others? Focus on the “orphan” genera? Connect with a Land Grant University as other successful repositories are?

Kim Hummer ( Corvallis) - See handout. In addition to an update on activities of the repository, Kim made a lunchtime slide presentation on the Expedition to the Republic of Georgia in Sept. 2004, and the trip to Hokkaido, Japan.

Alan Whittemore ( USNA Herbarium) - See handout. Alan actually gave his report at dinner, but it is included here with other reports. Michael Chamberlain joined the USNA this year, and has hit the ground running. The herbarium is working with John Wiersma to link data on our PI voucher specimens to the PI records on the GRIN website.

Mark Bohning ( GRIN) – See handout. Mark gave his report on 7/13, but it is included here with other reports. Reminded group that the CGC Chairs meeting will be held in conjunction with the PGOC meeting in Ames, IA on June 6-8, 2006. Brief discussion of “shopping cart” feature in GRIN, and how one negative aspect of that feature is that it encourages non-research users to request germplasm.

1:00 – 4:30 - Site visit to Glenn Dale and South Farm

Some thoughts expressed during these visits:

Instead of moving large plants, check database to find out where that germplasm was distributed, then contact those sites to see if they still have material – could serve as a long-term back-up or they may have smaller plants that they can send.

Perhaps WLPGR could submit a germplasm evaluation proposal to evaluate remaining “unmoveable” material at Glenn Dale to make determination whether it is backed up at other sites, or whether its value is historical, commercial, or as documented germplasm.

Maybe the repository would have better long-term survival if it were associated with a Land Grant University (such as the repositories in Corvallis, Geneva, Columbus, etc.)

Should the repository focus more on becoming a “virtual” collection by partnering with other locations (such as BARC) using GPS to locate plants, as well as other institutions (such as AABGA/NAPCC) who have substantial collections?

Because the number of plants of any provenance in the WLPGR is usually small, curation must focus on a clonal approach, rather than a seed approach.

Long-term stability of WLPGR might be more certain if site were to remain at Glenn Dale, with some building repair, rather than starting with no infrastructure at South Farm. At least Glenn Dale has water, sewer, gas, electric, good soil, mail delivery, phones, fax, computer. South Farm has few of these amenities, and is not likely to get them in the near future due to financial constraints. Also, South Farm location is under much more pressure from developers, so may not be ideal.

Would it help to ask stakeholder representatives (Jim Berry, AABGA, HRI) to write a letter to BARC Area Director? Could include figures on how much germplasm has already been lost, and how much is likely to be lost in the future.

Is it worthwhile focusing on curation of a highly visible genus (e.g. Magnolia) to try to enhance visibility, make stakeholders aware of roles and needs of WLPGR?

Equipment used at South Farm is shared by Tree Breeding CRIS also.

4:30 pm - Group left South Farm, and enjoyed a working dinner at the Hard Times Café in Beltsville.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

8:00 – meeting reconvened.

Germplasm Evaluation proposals (funded by NPS) – the consensus was that this year we will not send out a RFP, but will solicit a proposal from the WLPGR (Kevin Conrad) to evaluate existing germplasm at Glenn Dale and elsewhere that is or could be part of the repository. Kevin will send proposal to CGC for review by early September so that we can get it to NPS in time. Peter Bretting agreed that this would be a legitimate use of germplasm evaluation funds, if the CGC recommended it.

Financial Status of WLPGR - John Hammond

Summary: The Germplasm CRIS receives $640,446 (net to location), but the repository only has ~$7,000 per year for materials and supplies, due to other financial obligations in the CRIS (IRCs, salaries, travel, SCA, etc.). No improvement of this budgetary shortfall is in sight in the near future.

Long-term status of Repository is not certain, and there is a low probability of it ever becoming a functional efficient gene bank that meets users’ needs under the current conditions (location and budget, primarily). It hasn’t become much more than it was when it began in the late 1980s. Many members of CGC were involved in the WLPGR since its inception, and want to see it succeed. Kevin and CGC need to communicate the long-term vision of the repository, and define what it would take to get there (in terms of facilities and budget). Having such as document might help to keep Repository on track.

Peter Bretting – National Program Staff (see handout). Stakeholder/customer workshop for NP301 will be in Fall 2005. Representation from ornamentals will be solicited.

Discussion of inclusion of Atriplex germplasm in CGC: This genus is curated in Parlier, CA, and consists mainly of arid shrubs with possible use in rangeland or xeriscaping functions. Curator is looking for advisory group ( CGC). The WLPCGC decided that the NRCS might be a better fit due to limited ornamental use of this genus. Sue Wiegrefe will ask the curator how much interest she has in ornamental uses, and advise accordingly.

Discussion of Hibiscus germplasm curation. Liz Huppman, a grad student of Richard Criley in Hawaii notified the CGC that currently there is no site that curates tropical species (e.g. Hawaiian natives), despite endangered or threatened species. Griffin, GA is primary site, but some species might be better suited to Puerto Rico. Before decisions can be made, crucial needs must be defined (possible advisors would be Cecil Pounders, Thomas Ayala-Silva, Alan Meerow, Jim Berry, Brian Irish, Richard Criley). Curation of tropical ornamental germplasm in general is under-represented. (Note: after the CGC meeting, Margaret received an email stating that Jennifer Ehrenberger from the OSU repository could probably handle most of the germplasm in question).

WLPCGC Membership (see updated membership list)

The CGC decided to move members from institutions (AABGA, LPDC, etc.) from ex-officio to regular members. Those who curate germplasm or otherwise have a conflict of interest should be ex-officio, not those who use it, regardless of their affiliation.

Since the CGC brings together customers of the germplasm system, it might make sense to identify potential members by looking at the distribution of germplasm. Curators (Kevin C., Mark W.) can give Sue Wiegrefe a list of possibilities.

Possible new members include Keith Woeste (U.S. Forest Service, Sue will contact) and Michael Melendrez (nurseryman in New Mexico, Kevin will contact).

Next year’s meeting site

Pending approval by Sandy Reed (who was not able to attend this meeting), next year’s meeting will be in McMinnville, TN in mid June (tentatively Monday, June 19), to include visits to middle-Tennessee nursery growers.

It was agreed that the minutes and reports from this meeting will be put on the GRIN website under the WLPCGC by Mark Bohning.

Meeting adjourned around 12:00 noon.