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Holidays Begin Early for Commercial Floriculture Class at the U of M, Crookston; Poinsettias Reach Peak
December 12, 2008

Contact: Sue Jacobson, horticulture instructor, 218-281-8118 (sjacobso@umn.edu), Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director of communications, 218-281-8432 (ltollefs@umn.edu)


Crookston, Minn. (December 13, 2008) – In late August they arrive, hundreds of
(back row): Kaarina Visness, Jing Zhang, Jennifer Zoch (front row): Ying Chen, Yanchen Ge, Zhaozi Hou, and Keunyung Kim
(back row): Kaarina Visness, Jing Zhang, Jennifer Zoch (front row): Ying Chen, Yanchen Ge, Zhaozi Hou, Keunyung Kim, and Susan Jacobson, horticulture instructor.
rooted poinsettia cuttings in anticipation of another holiday season. For seven students involved in the commercial floriculture class at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, those cuttings have developed under their skill and coaxing into a beautiful poinsettia crop just in time for holiday display.

Students from Minnesota, Jennifer Zoch, Remer, and Kaarina Visness, Karlstad, are joined by five international students in this year’s class: Zhaozi Hou, Jing Zhang, Yanchen Ge, Ying Chen are all from China and Keunyung Kim is from South Korea. The students, under the instruction of Susan Jacobson, a horticulture instructor at the Crookston campus, have been working on the poinsettias since the beginning of fall semester.

In October, the students started the process of forcing the plants to bloom in time for the Christmas holiday season. They covered the plants with a dark cloth at 4 p.m. and uncovered them at 8 a.m. each day to control the length of daylight the plants receive. The students also take care of greenhouse chores on the weekends. Although the class is taught by Jacobson, the crop is in the hands of the students. The work and production of the poinsettia crop is entirely the responsibility of the class.

The Natural Resources Department offers the commercial floriculture as part of the horticulture program to acquaint students with producing plants for a specific date – a skill necessary for employment in a greenhouse or garden center. “Poinsettias form their colored “flowers” only if the length of days and nights are carefully regulated,” explains Jacobson. “The poinsettia really doesn’t have a bloom like most flowers. Instead, the colorful red, pink, or white petals are modified leaves known as bracts. The blooms are actually the small yellowish clusters in the center.”

Jacobson admits she often allows problems to develop to see how the students will solve them—something they would have to do in an employment situation. The class demands hard work, dedication, and a strong team effort to grow the best poinsettias. Leadership and responsibility are two of the qualities that develop in this type of teaching and learning environment.

“Students learn from experience,” Jacobson explains. “By taking responsibility for the crop, the students are accountable for the outcome making the commercial floriculture class one of the most memorable for the students.” The class is excellent training for a career in horticulture, a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. To learn more about the horticulture program with emphases in environmental landscaping, production horticulture or urban forestry, visit www.UMCrookston.edu/academics.

Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers more than 25 applied-science undergraduate degree programs and 50 concentrations, including several online degrees, in agriculture; arts, humanities and social sciences; business; math, science and technology; and natural resources. To learn more, visit www.UMCrookston.edu.