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West Florida Research and Education Center

West Florida Research and Education Center

Dr. Mack Thetford

Associate Professor

Landscape Ornamentals and Plant Propagation

Dr. Thetford co-teaches two state-wide web-based courses on plant propagation and Annual and Perennial Gardening and oversees the UF/IFAS Milton Gardens on the campus of Pensacola State College. Dr. Thetford’s teaching program includes courses in Plant Propagation, Plant Identification, Annual and Perennial Gardening, Dendrology and Plant Communities of the Florida Panhandle. His personal research interests center around two major areas. The first area is development of propagation and production protocols with emphasis on native plants – particularly uncommon coastal species useful for dune restoration efforts. The second area of interest is evaluation of ornamental species for low input landscapes. He is also presently working with researchers to learn more about a rare coastal bee species associated with the Florida native wildflower Balduina angustifolia (Honeycomb Flower) and collaborating on research to learn more about the reproductive biology and management of the invasive Japanese Climbing Fern. In 2014 Dr. Thetford began initial field evaluations of Pomegranate and Olives in conjunction with Dr. Wes Wood. When not getting his hands dirty with plants, Dr. Thetford restores turn-of-the-20th-century Gulf Coast Florida houses.

Programs

  • New Research

    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

    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)

  • Teaching

    Dr. Thetford’s teaching program includes courses in Plant Propagation, Plant Identification, Annual and Perennial Gardening, Dendrology and Plant Communities of the Florida Panhandle.

Contact

Milton Rm. 4921
UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center
5988 Hwy. 90, Bldg. 4900
Milton, FL 32583
850-983-7130
thetford@ufl.edu