State Advisory Council Visits Brafford Greenhouse
Brafford’s Greenhouse is a family-run operation that was started by Mr. Marty Brafford in 1967. His early years were spent growing vegetables with his father on their family truck farm and selling vegetable starts to local stores in the Concord area. Mr. Brafford has always enjoyed growing plants and is proud to make his living with them. He now runs the business with his son Mark. They have five full-time employees plus seasonal help. Employees are treated like family, and you can tell everyone enjoys working there.
About 100,000 plants are grown a year in the greenhouse. They specialize in annual bedding plants, mums, vegetables, hanging baskets, ferns, pansies, poinsettias, and geraniums. A large variety of traditional nursery stock such as trees, shrubs, and perennials are also available. Garden accessories, pest control products, and fertilizers are sold on-site. Brafford’s Greenhouse is a one-stop-shop for all your gardening and landscape needs.
Mr. Brafford says that insects and diseases are two of the most significant issues they face. Correct irrigation and nutrient deficiencies are also something they struggle with, especially during the busiest times of the year. When problems like these arise, his County Extension Agent, Lauren Hill, and Area Specialized Agent for Greenhouse and Nursery Crops, Stacey Jones, work with Mr. Brafford to solve them. In the past two growing seasons, the assistance given has saved him $100,000.
In the fall of 2018, Mr. Brafford contacted Lauren and Stacey with poinsettia and pansy issues. During this visit, they assessed the problem by taking a pH/EC sample, which proved to be in the correct range. With these results standard, they then took plant samples that were sent off to NC State Plant, Disease, and Insect Clinic as well as N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Agronomic Service for testing. No biotic issues were found, but nutrient deficiency was diagnosed in the poinsettias. A recommended Boron treatment by NCDA&CS employees and Dr. Brian Whipker, Greenhouse Specialist, saved the crop from loss. The pansies were not diagnosed with any biotic issues. Armed with the lab results and a consultation with Plant Pathologist, Inga Meadows, Stacey was able to get the information Mr. Brafford needed to receive a 30% refund from the plug producer.
In the spring of 2019, Mr. Brafford again contacted Lauren and Stacey with problems in his geraniums. A pour-through was performed to test the pH/EC of these plants. The results and pictures were then sent to Dr. Whipker, who recognized the issue as low magnesium and gave another crop-saving recommendation. Water samples were sent to NCDA&CS Agronomic Service, and it was determined that the water was high in calcium. Mr. Brafford was also using a fertilizer with calcium, so the combination made calcium levels in the irrigation water too high and was binding the magnesium. After following recommendations from the Cooperative Extension Program, Mr. Brafford saw a 100% improvement in his crop and was able to sell them as planned.