December 30, 2008

Notes On Neonicotinoids

Neonicotinoids are highly effective insecticides, but many questions remain about their use. James Bethke, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside, will discuss neonicotinoids at the 25th annual Pest Management Conference next month. He recently shared a few thoughts on his topic as the conference approaches. What is the significance of neonicotinoids to growers? “Obviously, there is a push to reduce the amount of pesticide use in agriculture and horticulture. There is also a concern about neonicotinoid movement in the environment and its effect on pollinating bees, butterflies, drinking water contamination, etc. In addition, there is a concern about the development of resistance to the neonicotinoids. The results of our research will increase grower knowledge of the neonicotinoids, and how to use them more efficiently.” Are we at a point where much more research needs to be conducted in order to develop best practices for neonicotinoids? “We are finding […]

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December 30, 2008

Conserving Water And Shelf Life

Petunias and impatiens aren’t your standard petunias and impatiens these days. They are bred for outstanding performance as well as vivid, unique colors and patterns, and will only get better. We currently see a trend towards plants that require little or no maintenance and conserve water. Demand for these products will no doubt increase across most horticultural product lines. Breeders have also started to develop genetics specifically created to have outstanding holdability at retail, reducing shrink and increasing profitability in an increasingly competitive environment. Breeders like PanAmerican Seed will continue to launch XP (eXtreme Precision, eXtra Performance) series within their genetic lines, focusing efforts on enhanced uniformity leading to production efficiency and greatly improving retail appearance. XP products will continue to offer strong garden performance to meet and exceed consumer expectations. On the technological front, I believe that in 25 years we will see on-line ordering systems such as Ball’s […]

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December 29, 2008

Online Only: Retail Dos and Don’ts

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery visited hundreds of garden centers last year and shared his findings on plant size and color with us. He also shared hundreds of photos from his stops last fall in Atlanta, Baltimore, Long Island and South Florida. We picked five photos that stood out for a job well done‚Äďand five that simply stood out for the wrong reasons.  

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December 22, 2008

Opportunity In China

Over the past 30 years since the opening of markets in China, the flower industry has continued to develop. In recent years, the development has escalated to a point where almost every province is aggressively developing its flower industry niche. China’s 1.33 billion people want a better life, and some regions are closer to that dream than other areas. Each area wants to be recognized as the largest in the country. Some areas like Yunnan province are best known for their cut flowers, and Guangdong province is best known for its tropical foliage. Each geographical area seems to have its strong points. The rapid development of China’s economy is in the Yangtze River Delta consisting of Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang areas. The population was 16,740,000, 74,380,000 and 46,770,000 in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, respectively, for a total of 137.8 million people in the region as reported in 2006. The population […]

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December 22, 2008

Fabulous Foliage

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., becomes the fashion runway for tropical foliage plants each January, when new varieties and interiorscaping concepts make their debut at the Tropical Plant Industry Expo (TPIE). The theme of this year’s event is “Tag It Tropical,” Jan. 15-17 at the Broward County Convention Center. Check out the following varieties and many more at the show. For more information about the show, visit www.tpie.org. Corn. Bak B.V. Dutch breeder Corn. Bak B.V. has introduced three new guzmania varieties that fit together as a series. Plants are fast-growing and suitable for 4-inch pots. ‘Ritmo’ (top) has an orange star-shaped inflorescence and is a welcome addition to the current assortment. ‘Tinto’ (middle) has a bordeaux red star-shaped inflorescence, bringing a new color to the collection. ‘Glossita’ (bottom) has a salmon-colored, star-shaped inflorescence. Florica Farms Florida grower Florica Farms has introduced two new dracaenas. ‘Art’ is similar to the old standby, […]

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December 22, 2008

Classic City Awards For Annuals

The Classic City Awards are presented in November after months of evaluation in The Gardens at UGA. Of the thousands of species and cultivars, only a few performed well enough all season to earn the coveted award. Plants are evaluated on foliage quality, flowering performance, disease and insect resistance, and most of all on the ability to sustain landscape performance through heat, humidity, drought, rain, open houses and fall football games. All evaluations are based on a rating of 1-5, with a 5 being excellent. The plants must have extraordinary flowers or foliage that caught the eye over the season, and in general, received a final grade of at least 4.5 out of 5.0 in the final tallies. We awarded 10 winners in annuals and 10 in perennials. Geranium ‘Calliope Dark Red’ Every year, we receive about 60 new geraniums to trial, and often, it is difficult to get excited […]

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December 22, 2008

Managing Complexity

Walmart pulled the rug out from a couple hundred large growers last fall, when it downsized its vendor base for spring 2009. The growers were essentially given less than three months’ notice, sending shockwaves through our industry. While those who weren’t cut will be doubling their store base, those who were have been scrambling to find buyers for spring production. The same thing happened heading into poinsettia season, with the base of grower vendors reduced from 100 to 30, sources tell us. Walmart still needs the same number of plants for its stores. It just doesn’t want to deal with the complexity of our supply chain. No other product line has the level of fragmentation and complexity that ours has at mass retail, as far as I know. Other perishable products, like produce, are more streamlined in their distribution. A base of 400 flower growers probably was at least 200 […]

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December 22, 2008

Different Is Not Always Better

The U.S. economy has been weathering recession-like conditions for a while now, including job losses, home foreclosures, declining consumer confidence, lower business spending and inflationary pressures on some of our key production inputs. Due to the cumulative impacts of these stressful economic conditions, we find several of our friends and colleagues are no longer working in the industry. Of those remaining, several I have interacted with have indicated their business activity is way down, but others say they have either been “holding their own” or “doing OK.” There has, however, been another (yet smaller) subset of growers that has indicated its “sales are up” or business has been “expanding” this year. Surviving & Thriving So naturally, this has prompted me to ponder how this can be. What is it that separates the folks who are just doing “OK” from those who are doing well? As usual, there is no easy […]

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December 22, 2008

Walkway Collapse At Atlanta Botanical Garden Kills 1

A construction worker was killed and 18 others injured Friday when an elevated pedestrian walkway currently being constructed collapsed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The workers had just begun pouring concrete into the steel framework of the new attraction, which was set to open in the spring, according to a story in The New York Times. The 600-foot-long canopy walk, which peaks at 45 feet tall, would allow visitors to view the treetops in the garden as well as the Atlanta skyline. It’s part of a $55 million makeover to the gardens. The gardens had invited the news media to watch workers pour the concrete. After the collapse, paramedics had to hike down a ravine to rescue injured construction workers. The executive director of the botanical gardens, Mary Pat Matheson, wrote on the website Saturday: “From Monday through the end of the year, the Atlanta Botanical Garden will donate all […]

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December 22, 2008

On Safari With Fides

Right after Horti Fair last fall, Fides hosted a group of North American growers in South Africa. This was an opportunity not only to see where their kalanchoe cuttings come from but visit growing operations in another part of the world and take in cultural attractions while cultivating new friendships and business relationships. The tour was hosted by Reinoud and Rian Hagen of Fides North America, and the following growers participated: – Ed and Joanne Boekestyn, Boekestyn Greenhouse, Jordan Station, Ontario –Mickey Ferragine and Tony Gutta, Bradford Greenhouses, Barrie and Bradford, Ontario –Bert and Jane De Bolster, Hanemaayer Greenhouses, Vineland, Ontario –Sim and Debra McMurry, Metrolina Greenhouses, Huntersville, N.C. –Bob and Joanne Newhouse, Walden Gardens, Wainfleet, Ontario –Duane and Marion Van Alstine, Balfour Greenhouses, Fenwick, Ontario –Stuart and Liz Van Staalduinen, Bayview Flowers, Jordan Station, Ontario Based in Holland and owned by Kirin in Japan, Fides is a flower breeder-producer […]

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December 22, 2008

Video: 25th Anniversary Editors’ Roundtable

Surely, you’ve soaked in some of our commemorative 25th anniversary issue by now, but you probably haven’t heard what Greenhouse Grower’s editors had to say about it themselves. Group Editor Richard Jones, Editor Delilah Onofrey, Online Editor Sara Tambascio and Associate Editor Kevin Yanik offered their thoughts on the year-end issue from the Meister Media Worldwide office in Willoughby, Ohio.

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December 22, 2008

Strategies For Resistance Management

There are a few new ways to reduce the likelihood of developing resistance to insecticides labeled for thrips. Scott Ludwig, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service entomologist and integrated pest management specialist who will discuss those methods and resistance issues in other pests at the 25th annual Pest Management Conference, recently shared a couple of thoughts on his topic as the conference approaches. What is the significance of your topic and recent findings growers should know about? “Insect pests go through cycles where they can be controlled and periods when the insecticides on the market are no longer effective. If proper insecticide resistance management plans are followed, then it is possible to prolong the length of the products that are currently on market. I will be discussing how growers can effectively manage thrips, whiteflies and other insects while preventing them from developing resistance.” Can you give us a snapshot preview of […]

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December 22, 2008

From Breeder To Market

On the way home from the group trip Fides hosted in South Africa (page 108), I spent two days visiting growers in Holland and Germany. I had the pleasure of spending an entire day with Ike Vlielander, who has devoted his career to breeding kalanchoes for Fides and helping growers succeed with their crops. In addition to visiting three Dutch growers who built their businesses on kalanchoes, we got up bright and early to visit the Flora Holland auction, which merged with the other large auction house in Aalsmeer this year. Inspired early on by legendary breeder Claude Hope, who had also worked with kalanchoe, Vlielander has introduced more than 160 varieties including the double-flowered Calandivas, which won six international awards in 2004. “When you think back 32 years ago, about 1 million kalanchoes were sold at the auction and grown from seed,” he says. “Now 100 million kalanchoe plants […]

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December 19, 2008

How Many Poinsettias Can You Fit In A Car?

While the poinsettia season has been disappointingly soft for growers and retailers, consumers are taking advantage of bargains. Gary Mangum of Bell Nursery shared a picture his representative Kevin Spear took in the parking lot of a BJ’s Wholesale Club in Philadelphia. The customer bought 30 10-inch poinsettias to give as gifts. The year before, he came too late and all the 10-inch were gone. Do you have any pictures to share of your holiday crops or a recap of the season? Send them to Editor Delilah Onofrey at [email protected] and we’ll present them in a future edition of Benchrunner.

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December 19, 2008

Mercer Botanicals Now VeriFlora Certified

Mercer Botanicals, a tropicals grower featured on our January 2008 cover, is among the latest greenhouse growers to earn sustainability certification through VeriFlora. Last January, we wrote how Mercer Botanicals adopted the Southern Nursery Association’s Best Management Practices as a guide for environmentally sound growing. “We have committed to minimizing nitrate runoff by using both controlled release and liquid feed fertilizer in order to maintain an ideal EC and pH in our crops,” Co-owner Wayne Mercer said at the time. “Our feed schedule uses minimal pounds per yard of slow-release feed in 100 percent peat mix with supplemental liquid feeds only as required. We irrigate through low-volume heads with 85 percent plus uniformity.” Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) recognized Mercer Botanicals for those practices, among others. Five acres of the 50-acre nursery, for example, contain ponds that capture 100 percent of rainwater from Florida’s summer storms, and it operates by an […]

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December 18, 2008

A Last-Minute Holiday Gift Option

The American Florists’ Exchange and Los Angeles Flower Market recently published a book titled, “Sending Flowers to America: Stories of the Los Angeles Flower Market and the People Who Built an American Floral Industry.” The book retails at $64.95 and tells the tales of a few industry families. The Ecke family is among those featured, and the book is broken into chapters that tell the American floral industry’s story in chronological order. “Sending Flowers to America” contains 288 pages and more than 350 photos. “We are very pleased to present this archival quality record of the milestones in our history,” says Johnny Mellano, manager of the Los Angeles Flower Market and a grower whose family story is among those featured in the book. “These stories have been passed down to us through generations. It’s time we record them for those who follow in our footsteps and those across America who […]

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December 18, 2008

Rocky Mountain Poinsettia Report

Two weeks ago, marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery shared his assessment of retail poinsettias at North Florida box stores. This week, he offers his thoughts on poinsettias at independent garden centers and box stores in Denver, Colo. Introduction With less than 12 shopping days left, the roads were clogged and some retailers were extremely busy on Saturday, Dec. 13. Poinsettia inventories were fairly large, and most retailers were offering discounted prices ranging from 20 to 25 percent. At the national retailers, inventories were 90 percent red whereas independents like Paulino’s Garden Center, Echter’s, and Tagawa Garden Center offered an array of colors, novelties and painted poinsettias. Paulino’s Garden Center: One of the best marketers of poinsettias anywhere, featuring high-quality products that are very well merchandised on tables with appropriate spacing. They have really used the painted concept to differentiate themselves with unique artistic offerings. Echter’s Garden Center: A high-end retailer offering […]

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December 18, 2008

Too Much White Christmas

Louisiana growers have come to expect the multiple hurricanes that plow through their region each year to cause structural damage to their greenhouses. But snow? Two to eight inches of it fell in a single day across the state a couple of weeks ago, and the snow’s weight caused many greenhouses to collapse. Fifteen of 18 greenhouses at Poole Brothers Nursery’s main location were damaged recently by unexpected Louisiana snowfall. Thirty-five of the 70 greenhouses at Poole Brothers Nursery in the central Louisiana collapsed under the weight of the snow. Owner Debbie Head says six inches fell at the nursery’s main location in Lecompte, where three of 18 houses were left standing. Poole Brothers has five locations in all, and some of its affected structures were new. Astoundingly, Head says the snow-caused damages are worse than the wind and heavy rain damages her nursery’s structures sustained from hurricanes Gustav and […]

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December 18, 2008

The Classic City Awards: Perennials

The Classic City Awards are presented in November after months of evaluation in The Gardens at the University of Georgia. Click here for the lowdown on the top 10 perennials from 2008 for the 2009 market. Miscanthus ‘Gold Bar’ ‘Gold Bar’ has exceptional posture, providing a highly useful structure as a border plant. The half inch creamy yellow bars that accent each bright green blade are striking and lure the viewer as they approach the plant. In this, its second year in the garden, plants were two and a half feet tall at the peak of summer. Tricyrtis ‘Kohaku’ What an exquisite beauty! The lavender petals gradually fade into a blue center. From the center of the bloom, a light yellow pistil and stamens arise, speckled with burgundy. Gaura ‘Snow Fountain’  Cascading petals of white resemble falling snow frozen in time without the bite of cold weather. The brightness of […]

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December 17, 2008

Production Tips For Top Performers: Lavandula Stoechas

Figures 1a and b. The flowers of Spanish lavender or L. stoechas have showy, whimsical bracts on top of the inflorescence, reminiscent of bunny ears. Few plants can match the romantic appeal of lavender. The silvery foliage and drifts of flowers are lovely in their own right but are also evocative of old-world charm and idyllic sun-drenched Mediterranean settings. Lavender plants are surely one of the best choices to line a sunny garden path, where brushing against them as you pass will release that classic scent. In a container garden, people can enjoy the fragrance and spiked inflorescences up close. Lavender is produced commercially for its essential oil, valued in perfumes and also has some medicinal and culinary uses. In floriculture, lavender is a desirable and popular part of both the herb and ornamental segments of the market. Lavenders are also a very practical choice for modern gardeners since they […]

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