December 16, 2008

Talking Shop: Maximizing Space

For more than 10 years, growers at Four Star Greenhouse in Carleton, Mich., have finished many spring crops outdoors, beginning in early April, with tremendous success. A wide array of container crops are finished outdoors, including 4.5-quart, 1-gallon and 13-, 18-, 10- and 12-inch containers and hanging baskets. Four Star feels its spring crops grown outdoors produce a high-quality finished container that can equal or rival those grown indoors, no matter how high tech and high quality the greenhouse structure may be. With the higher light levels, cooler temperatures and natural air movement provided by the outdoor areas, plants specifically selected for growing outdoors tend to finish fuller, tighter and have better branching and higher bud counts than identical containers grown in the greenhouse. A Little More Roomy By using these outdoor areas for growing on crops, not only is quality maintained, or in many cases improved, but also additional […]

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December 16, 2008

State Of The Industry: A Snapshot

         

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December 16, 2008

Online Only: Complete Industry Pulse Survey Responses

We surveyed readers to create a profile of the typical greenhouse grower in 2009 and to gauge the current state of the market. Here are the complete findings from our 250 respondents. Which of the following best describes your business? Wholesale grower, finished plants    32%    Grower/retailer    32%    Wholesale grower, young plants (plugs & liners) 8% Wholesale grower, finished & young plants    16% Other 12% What percent of the plants you grow was sold through each of the following outlets in 2008? Mass merchandiser (e.g. Wal-Mart,Target)     11.63    Home improvement chains (e.g. The Home Depot, Lowe’s)11.54   Supermarkets         8.92    Independent garden centers    45.83       Own retail operation         57.43   Where is your business located? Northeastern U.S.20.8%   Midwestern U.S.    29.2%   Southeastern U.S. 20.0%   Southwestern U.S. 6.0%   Western U.S.    16.8%   International    7.2%   How long has your greenhouse operation been in business? 5 years or less    14.0%   6 to 10 years    8.6%   11 to 15 […]

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December 16, 2008

2009 State Of The Industry Report

If you stop to think about the developments our industry has seen over the past couple of years, your head will spin. There’s been plenty of change lately but through it all, your goals as growers have remained the same: You still strive to produce quality plants in the most efficient manner possible, and all the while turning a nice profit. Lately, though, profitability has been more of an uncertainty than a guarantee. There’s no room for error in production anymore. And with the current state of the economy, while some growers see the opportunity to invest in their businesses and push ahead, others are nervously pulling back into wait-and-see mode. Despite all this turmoil, however, there’s reason to be upbeat. Greenhouse Grower’s 2009 State of the Industry report looks at all these challenges and focuses on actions growers can take in the new year. We went to a panel […]

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December 16, 2008

Constant Variables

Some growers were raised into it, and for some, their customers demand it from them. But for Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm, going organic was more like an epiphany. Traven vividly remembers the moment that forced him to rethink his approach as a grower: After delivering herbs to a customer, Traven recalls standing around chatting with the buyer and watching what the customers were doing with the herbs. “The first thing they do is rub them and then sniff their hands. Second, they start picking the leaves off the plants and start chewing them.” This struck a nerve with Traven. “Every instinct I had was screaming at me to yell ‘No, don’t do that! This came out of my greenhouse. You don’t want to eat this.’” Think about what you ingest. Fertilizers are used in herbs, vegetables and edible ornamentals. They are something you can’t just wash off in […]

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December 16, 2008

Understanding Plant Nutrition: Managing Media EC

High fertilizer levels can be too much of a good thing, leading to excess growth, nutrient toxicity and potential runoff of nutrients into the environment. Conversely, low fertilizer levels can lead to nutrient deficiency symptoms. A basic goal for a nutrition program is to supply nutrients to the crop within an acceptable range for healthy and controlled growth. One way to ensure that nutrients are being supplied at adequate levels is with a soil test. So long as your irrigation water has salt concentrations within an acceptable range and you use a balanced fertilizer containing both macro- and micronutrients that doesn’t contain a lot of useless salts (like sodium or chloride), then there is a good relationship between the nutritional status of the root medium, and the media electrical conductivity (EC) measured using common soil testing methods (Table 1). This last article of our series discusses how to manage media […]

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December 16, 2008

State Of The Industry: Building A Collective Voice

We’ve all heard about the need for one unified message the industry could deliver to consumers, and several organizations are already on the right track promoting the benefits of the crops you grow. Here’s a breakdown of a few industry organizations and the specific messages they’ve been delivering lately. America In Bloom Last year, 30 U.S. communities participated in America In Bloom (AIB), the national grassroots community enhancement program that engages communities in a friendly beautification competition each year. Nearly 160 communities have been involved in the program since the organization was founded in 2001, and several cities have made their participation in America In Bloom a regular affair. Many times, in fact, communities enter the competition after a neighboring community has already done so. The benefits, AIB finds, are economical, environmental and in the human lifestyle. Next year’s annual symposium and awards gala will be held in Hershey, Pa. […]

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December 16, 2008

Manipulating Crop Fertilization For Better Pest Management

Reducing fertilization is one solution to decelerating pest population growth rate and increasing the effectiveness of pest control. Carlos Bográn, associate professor and Extension specialist at Texas A&M University, will lead a discussion on manipulating crop fertilization at the 25th annual Pest Management Conference presented by Society of American Florists and Greenhouse Grower, and he shared a couple of thoughts about the topic with us. What are some of the benefits growers should know about reducing crop fertilization? “Optimizing fertilizer use to match the plant/product requirements for the specific production system and market will have multiple advantages for growers, including reduction of production costs, reduction of environmental pollution risks and enhanced efficacy of chemical and biological pest control.” OK, reduced costs and environmental impacts are logical benefits. But in a nutshell, how does reduced fertilization impact pest control? “Insect pest populations respond positively to increases in plant nutrition. Excess of […]

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December 15, 2008

Back To Basics

Mitch and Patty Rabin know in tough economic times, it’s best to stick with what you know. The duo, who are partners in life as well as in business, have streamlined their business–Living Colors Nursery in Homestead, Fla.–to focus primarily on their bread and butter: guzmania bromeliads. When the operation started in 1993, they had the idea of selling guzmania bromeliads along with orchids. The orchid production had to wait several years, though, until they could find the proper tissue culture labs to work with and receive quality young plants. They found a variety of quality labs over the years, despite the challenges of cloning Phalaenopsis orchids, and offered many options in color and form. In the 1990s, they even worked with a California breeder to start a line of seedling Phalaenopsis orchids in art shades–new shades from the traditional colors that had dominated the marketplace at the time. From […]

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December 15, 2008

Industry Leader Named As Replacement To Standards Committee

The three open seats on the committee developing a national standard for sustainable agriculture have been filled, and one representative from the floriculture industry is among the recent additions. Theodore Johnson of Freshblooms and its parent company, Delaware Valley Floral Group, was named to the committee. He replaces Tom Leckman of Sierra Flower Trading, who resigned from his post about a month ago. Other industry members include - Jim Barrett of the Environmental Horticulture Department at the University of Florida–Hans Brand of B&H Flowers–Will Healy of Ball Horticultural Co.–Juan Carlos Isaza-Cassolis of Asocolflores–Stan Pohmer of Pohmer Consulting Group–Jacques Wolbert of MPS-ECAS; and–Mark Yelanich of Metrolina Greenhouses For more information on the standards committee and its progress, visit www.leonardoacademy.org.

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