Whipker Wins National Award

Dr. Brian Whipker in a plant nursery.

NC State University’s Dr. Brian E. Whipker, an internationally acclaimed expert in the fields of plant growth regulators and plant nutrition, is the 2016 recipient of the Society of American Florists’ Alex Laurie Award. The honor was presented Sept. 24 at the society’s annual convention in Hawaii.

Established in 1948, the award honors research and academic contributions. It is named for an eminent professor at The Ohio State University who helped revolutionize the floriculture industry.

Whipker, a professor of floriculture in the Department of Horticultural Science, has a long history of researching and understanding plant responses to the environment including diagnosing and solving plant disorders. He has worked on specific plant disorders, developed nutritional diagnostic tools across species, and applied his research to create grower guides that help identify many different deficiency symptoms. These guides are designed to help greenhouse workers more rapidly identify plant problems.

According to the SAF, “Whipker’s research on plant growth regulators has helped the average greenhouse grower make better educated production decisions. Most research prior to his came from cooler climates and had little relevancy in 100-plus degree greenhouse temperatures in mid-May. Today, any grower especially in the southern half of the U.S. is likely using Dr. Whipker’s research on growth regulators.

“One of his signature achievements was to apply the PourThru method to floriculture crops. He developed simple, repeatable protocols and hands-on training to assist growers and other educators identify and address nutrition and pH problems that previously required burdensome and expensive lab testing. The method is now the most popular one growers use.

“But helping growers with production and nutrition problems is just half the battle, growers also need to be successful in sales and profits. Dr. Whipker has always emphasized economics and profits in his research, teaching and extension work. This has set him apart from many other extension educators. He is recognized by his peers, students and growers alike for delivering what is most important, practical and relevant information for commercial growers.”

Whipker was also recognized for using technology to share information. He is the co-founder of e-Gro electronic grower resources, a collaborative effort of several floral academics to share information with growers through weekly alerts, webinars and research reports; has published several electronic books; and has produced many podcasts and online videos.

– Staff Report

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