Preserving Plant Progress

Small pots of plants on a greenhouse table

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on the NC State Essentially CALS site by author Janine Brumfield.  The NC State greenhouses at Method Road house many of Crop and Soil Sciences’ plant breeding specimens.  Wayne Holder and his team are a vital component of our plant breeding programs everyday, but especially during this time of reduced campus staffing. Thank you for going the extra mile Wayne!  

This week, we’re turning our focus to Wayne Holder, a man who is always appreciated and currently credited for keeping valuable research plants alive in the NC State Method Road Greenhouses.

Wayne HolderAs a research operations manager, Wayne Holder has worked for the university for 26 years and counting.

While normal daily operations continue, Holder, Derek Marshburn, and Heather Wilson have taken on additional duties such as watering for projects with researchers who are not able to be on campus during the pandemic. Taking on this watering means communicating frequently with the project’s principal investigator. Typically, the Method Road Greenhouse team meets face to face with project leaders. The transition to emails or texts has been cumbersome.

Since March 16, on many days Holder goes without seeing another person on campus.

“We are dealing with living things,” Holder said. “Some plant collections are several years old and are irreplaceable. Within controlled environments, things change daily due to mechanical failures, changes in weather, etc., so we need to check in regularly to care for the plants.”

We are thankful for Wayne and the entire Method Road staff for their often behind-the-scenes work to make our breeding programs possible.

Beyond changes in communications, the team is also diligently sanitizing surfaces at a more frequent rate to keep greenhouse occupants safe.

“The greenhouses at Method Road house the critically important plant breeding collections supporting the multimillion-dollar row crop and turf industries in North Carolina,” said Crop and Soil Sciences Department Head Jeff Mullahey. “Researchers use these greenhouse plants to develop breeding traits resulting in higher yields or improved pest resistance for farmers or turfgrass managers in North Carolina. During the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, our staff has gone above and beyond to ensure these critical plant collections remain viable for future research.

“Wayne Holder and his team have wisely and effectively followed safety best practices to ensure the health and safety of the team and the plants. We are thankful for Wayne and the entire Method Road staff for their often behind-the-scenes work to make our breeding programs possible.”

Thank you for all you do for everyone at CALS.

White fabric isolates plant specimens in greenhouse