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Dr. Mack Thetford

Research: Landscape Ornamentals and Plant Propagation

New Research Directions at WFREC

Pomegranate - Variety trials, factors affecting fruit production, potential for ornamental use (Collaboration with Dr. Wes Wood)

Objectives are to identify potential cultivars for production of high quality pomegranate, identify potentially ornamental selections for Florida, and improve availability of preferred selections by developing reliable stem cutting propagation methods for difficult to root cultivars.

A field trial of 25 pomegranate cultivars was planted Spring 2014. Plants will be evaluated for growth, flower and fruit production.  Propagation methods will be evaluated to allow for further cultivar selection of desirable seedling selections of species identified as difficult to root. Additional trials will be initiated to evaluate effects of pruning and fertilization techniques on flowering and fruiting.

Olive - Variety trials, factors affecting fruit production, potential for ornamental use (Collaboration with Dr. Wes Wood)

Objectives are to identify potential cultivars for production of high quality olive oil, evaluate the trellis system as a potential production system for Florida, and improve availability of own-rooted olives by developing reliable stem cutting propagation methods for difficult to root cultivars.

A field trial consisting of 12 Olive cultivars will be planted June 2014. Plants will be evaluated for growth, flower/fruit production. An additional 35 cultivars will be planted in the fall. Additional research will explore potential propagation methods for difficult to root cultivars. Plants will be maintained in a trellised production system.

Ongoing Research at WFREC

Determining Population Status of Newly Discovered Bee Species (Collaboration with Dr. Debbie Miller)

Objectives are to determine habitat critical to the endemic Balduina Bee which also includes evaluation of the population structure of Balduina angustifolia which is the sole food source for this endemic monolectic coastal bee.

Coastal Dune Restoration ( Collaboration with Dr. Debbie Miller and Dr. Lyn Branch)

Objectives are to evaluate propagation, production and outplanting procedures and practices for (1) the development of diverse dune types and connectivity among dune habitat in the context of habitat and food requirements of the Santa Rosa Beach Mouse; and (2) development of  procedures for establishment of woody scrub species in barrier island landscapes.

Evaluating the effects of planting zones on the survival and growth of 4 coastal dune species and the effects the combinations have on sand accumulation profiles. “Are there some patterns of planting that are more beneficial to species survival, growth and sand accumulation?”

Evaluating the effects of artificial wrack (mulch) on the transplant survival and subsequent growth of beach dune plants and sand accumulation patterns within restored dunes?

Florida Native plant species – Groundcover
Wildflowers - Collaboration with Dr. Sandy Wilson and Dr. Hector Perez

Propagation, production, and landscape performance of Florida Native Wildflower species.

Includes plant species endemic to the Florida panhandle and species critical to endangered beach mice and an endemic monolectic coastal bee (Hesperapis oraria).

Groundcover restoration - Collaboration with Dr. Debbie Milller

Fire Season Effects on Flowering Characteristics and Germination of Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) Savanna Grasses

Evaluation of seedbank in Flatwoods communities following 60 years of fire suppression.

Japanese Climbing Fern - Collaboration with Dr. Kimberly Bohn

Objectives are to evaluate the potential to manage Japanese Climbing Fern with herbicides and develop a greater understanding of the factors which influence the fern reproductive biology.

Effects of forestry and ornamental herbicides on spore germination.

Effects of light levels and herbicide application (products, rates, timing of application) on spore production and subsequent germination.

Effects of light and temperature on spore germination.

Effects of fire temperatures on spore viability (germination)

Dr. Mack Thetford, Associate Professor