Dr. Tom Fernandez

Michigan State University

1974-1982, Family greenhouse/nursery in Florida
B.S. 1986, University of Florida, Fruit Crops Department
M.S. 1989, University of Florida, Fruit Crops Department
Ph.D. 1992, Michigan State University, Department of Horticlture
Post-Doctoral Researcher, 1992-1995, Michigan State University, Department of Horticlture
Assistant Professor 1995-6, Louisiana State University, Department of Horticulture
Assistant Professor, 1996-1999, Clemson University, Department of Horticulture
Present Position: Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University (since Sept. 1999)
Responsibilities: 50% Research, 25% Teaching, 25% Extension

My research and extension program focus areas are on water quality and management, container substrate properties and nutrition, biodegradable plastics, and analyzing production costs. I am particularly interested in new technology for horticulture, both for research and industry use. I work primarily with the ornamental plant production industries but also with other commodity groups when my specific expertise in water quality/management or cost estimation is desired.

I am the co-founder of a USDA mulit-state working group: Water Management and Quality for Ornamental Crop Production and Health. There are five interrelated focus areas of the project: 1. Source water management and quality; 2. Irrigation management; 3. Runoff water management and quality; 4. Substrate and nutrition management; and 5. Pathogens and crop health management. I work primarily in areas 1-3 but interact with other the other areas as well.

I teach Nursery Management (HRT 310), a junior level course at MSU. The course covers management of wholesale container and field production nurseries including business development, basic management concepts, site selection, cost and introductory financial aspects, legal regulations, and production practices (nutrition, water management, pest management, pruning and training, storage and handling, shipping). The objectives of the course are to 1. develop an understanding of nursery business management (financial, marketing, personnel); 2. develop skills necessary to manage a wholesale nursery; and 3. acquire knowledge regarding theory and practice of cultural and production techniques and methods.

I began teaching Landscape Plant Identification (HRT 211) in the Fall 2012 semester. We cover identification characteristics and landscape use of 325 woody and hardy herbaceous plant species. I have delivered over 200 presentations for scientific and industry audiences within Michigan, nationally and internationally and have over 160 scientific, extension and trade journal publications. I work primarily with the ornamental nursery industry but have worked with the fruit, vegetable, and Christmas tree industries related to water quality and irrigation management.

My interest in horticulture arose from working in our family ornamental greenhouse/nursery business. I worked for 8 years in the business participating in all aspects from greenhouse construction to plant production.


Track: Grower
Jan 22 2018 - 2:10pm

The way you manage irrigation and other inputs affects how water moves throughout a nursery and what is being carried by the water in surface runoff or infiltration into groundwater.  This presentation will discuss what is possibly moving in...

Track: Grower
Jan 22 2018 - 3:10pm

Calcined aggregates -stones or clays expanded through heat treatment – have many uses throughout nursery production. Due to the capacity to adsorb and release phosphorus, calcined aggregates can be used as a container substrate component as well...