Want to keep up with the latest news in commercial horticulture? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

USDA Confirms Distribution of Unauthorized GE Petunia
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) recently learned that several varieties of petunias genetically engineered (GE) to produce various hues of orange, red and purple colored flowers have been imported into the United States from Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, South America, as well as the countries of Australia, Israel, and Mexico, and distributed interstate without proper authorization as required by APHIS regulations at 7 CFR part 340. APHIS is working in close cooperation with breeders and growers represented by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and AmericanHort to ensure the implicated GE petunia varieties are withdrawn from distribution. Several distributors have already voluntarily removed GE petunias from distribution and destroyed them in accordance with APHIS guidance. Consumers who may have purchased GE petunias need take no action, as the petunias are not considered to pose a risk to human health or the environment. Retailers, growers and breeders are being asked to voluntarily withdraw GE petunias from distribution. The petunia varieties that tests have confirmed to be genetically engineered so far include:

  1. African Sunset
  2. Trilogy Mango
  3. Trilogy Deep Purple
  4. Trilogy Red
  5. Trilogy ’76 Mix-Liberty Mix
  6. Fortunia Early Orange
  7. Hells Bells Improved
  8. Petunia Salmon Ray
  9. Sweetunia Orange Flash

EHR Announces the Release of Their 2017 California Spring Trials Report
Eason Horticultural Resources announced the release of their 2017 edition of the California Spring Trials Report. Compiled by members of the EHR office team with the input of the salespeople that attended the trials, this year’s edition features genetics from 21 different breeding companies and information gathered from the 17 different stops on our tour. Read the report here.

Belchim Crop Protection to acquire Engage Agro USA LLC
Belchim Crop Protection (Londerzeel) has agreed to acquire the American agrochemical company Engage Agro USA, LLC. In December 2016, Belchim already obtained a majority stake of 60 percent in Engage Agro Corporation, based in Guelph, Ontario, which established a direct presence for Belchim in the North American crop protection market. The buyout of Engage Agro USA provides a ready-made platform to expand access to USA markets for Belchim’s innovative agrochemical and bio-based product portfolio.  With the purchase of Engage Agro USA, Belchim Crop Protection will gain a specialty crop protection and nutritional products company. Engage Agro USA works with all key distributors across major row and specialty crops, in addition to turf and ornamental segments.

STEPABLES Receives Jury Verdict for $300,000 in Statutory Damages and $900,000 in Actual Damages in Federal Copyright Action Against The Perennial Farm
A jury in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland awarded STEPABLES owner Under A Foot Plant, Co. $900,000 in actual damages for The Perennial Farm’s unauthorized use of STEPABLES’s copyrighted photographs. The jury also awarded Under A Foot Plant, Co. the maximum available statutory damages of $300,000 for The Perennial Farm’s willful infringement STEPABLES’s brochure and website. STEPABLES® is Under A Foot Plant, Co.’s award-winning product line of perennial plants for walkways, borders, and lawn replacement, available throughout the U.S. and Canada. Company President Frances White is the creator of the STEPABLES plant line and its many copyrighted images. In the lawsuit, Under A Foot Plant, Co. and White alleged that The Perennial Farm had used STEPABLES’s copyrighted photographs to market a competing line of products called “Treadwell.” White testified at trial that she had discovered her pictures on Treadwell webpages, brochures, and posters in 2011, 2012, and 2014, and these infringements continue.