December 2, 2008

Walmart To Adopt RFID In China

Starting in 2009, Walmart will require all of its Chinese suppliers to use RFID rather than bar codes. RFID is expected to cost about 20 times more for each of Walmart’s 1,000-plus suppliers in China. Could the demand next be shifted to U.S. suppliers like greenhouse growers? It very well could be, considering an estimation by RFID provider Invengo Information Technology that Walmart should save $8.35 billion. According to Chen Chang’an, general manager of Invengo, Walmart can now check production information, brand name, production location and price very quickly. Those advantages should, in turn, reduce Walmart’s chain and distribution costs. The adoption of RFID in China is just one of several steps Walmart has taken to impose stricter standards on Chinese suppliers. Just two months ago, Mike Duke, vice president of Walmart who will soon take over as company CEO, said Walmart would be specifically asking Chinese apparel suppliers to […]

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December 2, 2008

Bedding Plants Of The Future

We at Selecta believe in developing plants for the future considering three main aspects: contentment, convenience and conscience.  What do we mean by that? It is obvious that ornamental plants are used for decorating homes and gardens. They are there to enrich our lives and to bring beauty and a feeling of being in touch with nature. A nice garden area offers us a private haven. To achieve this, breeders are constantly developing new and exciting plant types, such as hanging petunias and calibrachoas, and interesting new colors. But ornamental plants need to be not only beautiful. As an industry, we need to meet the consumer’s desire to achieve more with doing less. Not everyone is a hobby gardener; hence we need to breed plants that are more forgiving and tolerant to less water and wrong planting spots, as well as parasites. These traits will offer consumer and producer benefits […]

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December 2, 2008

Benary’s Breeding Objectives

As we look ahead at our breeding objectives, one thing that remains a centerpiece of our focus is garden performance. We feel that breeding for garden performance must be a primary objective and not an afterthought in breeding. While color trends may change, scent and texture preferences may vary, one thing will always remain the same, end consumers must be successful in their own gardens if our industry and our products are to thrive. Garden performance is equally important with the landscape trade but performance is only one of the factors in product selection. To meet their needs, we will expand our offerings in products like BIG begonias, where minimal maintenance and adaptability are important features. And we are constantly looking for products like Northern Lights pentas that can tolerate cooler conditions not typical of the species, so that the geographic range of a product’s use can be increased. But […]

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December 2, 2008

Garden Retailers Dish On Black Friday

Black Friday was a mixed bag for garden center retailers. Despite the uptick in sales many retailers saw throughout the country last Friday, garden retailers in some locations couldn’t make the same claim. Meanwhile, others saw heavy traffic Friday that dropped the rest of the weekend. “The traffic was normal for us, but the sales were down,” noted Sandi McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist in Washington, Mo. “People were buying, but just not near as much as in the past. We have a more open set up in the store, and have had many great comments about it. Cut Christmas trees moved well, as well as fresh greenery.” Gali’s Garden Center in Beachwood, Ohio, saw sales jump about 20 percent versus the year before on Black Friday via an open house, but tree sales remained steady with the previous three years. “So what does that mean for the season?” asks […]

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December 2, 2008

More Than Flying Cars

When Greenhouse Grower began in 1983, the general public started getting its hands on some of the first personal computers. Leaps in technology made the future seem limitless. Looking to the year 2000, even flying cars made sense. Asking someone to predict the next 25 years isn’t easy, especially when talking about the greenhouse industry. It requires a good deal of imagination and market know-how. For Greenhouse Grower’s anniversary issue, we asked prominent companies in the greenhouse-floriculture industry to explain where they plan to be and what new developments will make a difference for growers by the year 2033. We received some great responses, but no flying cars. They gave us something growers can actually sink their teeth into and look forward to. And it’s somewhat fitting that the bulk of our responses come from greenhouse software companies. It really is a sign of the times, isn’t it? Software Partnerships […]

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December 2, 2008

Poinsettia Open Houses In Ohio, North Carolina

OFA and Ohio State University kicked off their poinsettia trial open houses today at Krueger Maddux Greenhouses in Indiana, and they’ll continue next week with three stops across the state of Ohio. North Carolina State University, meanwhile, is hosting its open house for growers and consumers tomorrow and Saturday. The schedule and locations for the remaining OFA and Ohio State poinsettia trials are as follows: December 8, 1–3:30 p.m. Bostdorff Greenhouse Acres 18832 N. Dixie Highway Bowling Green, OH 43402 419-353-7858 December 10, 1–3:30 p.m. Dill’s Greenhouse 5800 Rager Rd. Groveport, OH 43125 614-836-3700 December 12, 1–3:30 p.m. Barco and Sons, Inc 6650 Branch Rd. Medina, OH 44256 330-725-5400 North Carolina State has an event planned for growers tomorrow (Dec. 4) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Another event for both growers and consumers will follow Saturday (Dec. 7) from 1-5 p.m. The event is free and no registration is […]

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December 2, 2008

Orlando Neighborhood To Get Garden Makeover

Fiskars Project Orange Thumb, a community program that’s helped establish neighborhood vegetable plots, install gardens and revitalize parks, has a one-day garden transformation planned next week in Orlando, Fla. More than 50 people, including Master Gardener Joe Lamp’l, will gather next Thursday, Dec. 11 with members of the Willows neighborhood and staff from Fiskars, Home Depot and the city of Orlando. The goal of the project is to fill neighborhood spaces with shade-giving trees and flowering plants while developing a relaxed sitting area for residents. For more information on this particular project or Project Orange Thumb, visit www.fiskars.com.

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December 2, 2008

Succeeding With Bedding Plants

Floriculture plants of the future must be both grower friendly and consumer friendly. Growers must make a profit on each plant they grow and consumers must be drawn to the plant on the retail shelf and receive value in postharvest and/or garden performance. The breeding at Dömmen is focused on producing plants that combine both grower and consumer traits. Important grower characteristics are disease resistance/tolerance, plants that require less greenhouse energy inputs, less plant growth regulator inputs, better branching, day-length neutral for spring plants, cold/heat tolerance, plants that fit automation, excellent shipping and excellent flower/plant “wow” on the retail shelf. Plants with these characteristics reduce production costs with more plants per square foot, less inputs of heating and cooling, less photoperiod lighting requirements, reduced chemical applications, less labor demands and reduced shrink without sacrificing the most important consumer demands. Plant characteristics important for consumers are postharvest/garden performance that include disease […]

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December 2, 2008

Ravin’ Traven: No Cutting Back

Each week, wholesale grower Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm in Pennsylvania sends out an engaging and highly opinionated rant to his garden center customers along with the most current availability, order forms and pictures of plants in the greenhouse. Here is his most recent rant, in which he encourages grower-retailers to stock great plants and hope for the best rather than assume customers simply won’t buy in these uncertain times. November 28 Steely Dan had a GREAT tune called “Black Friday.” Call it up on iTunes–it’ll cheer you and get you jumping. It should be required at 7 a.m. on this day, to get your employees moving and grooving. So, it is now 2:30 on Friday, well into the day after Turkey Day, and we’re all fully awake after the turkey coma. We hope you are swamped with people spending money. By Monday, no doubt, you WILL need to […]

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December 2, 2008

Irrigation Association Unveils New Brand Identity

The Irrigation Association recently has developed a new logo and tagline–”Smart practices. Sustainable solutions.”–as it expands its efforts to promote efficient irrigation and the importance of working with irrigation experts. “We need a brand that helps policymakers, consumers and those outside the irrigation industry understand who we are and what we’re about,” says Irrigation Association President Stephen W. Smith. The organization asked for input from members on its logo, and it concluded the logo no longer communicated the Irrigation Association’s role in the green industry. With its new logo and brand, the organization believes it can bring industry people together to define and implement best water management practices. For more information on the Irrigation Association, click here.

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December 2, 2008

Ones To Watch: Martin Stockton

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 23rd week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Martin Stockton of First Step Greenhouses in Temecula, Calif. Age–40 His Job–Martin is the head grower at First Step Greenhouses, and he has 16 years experience growing plugs. “I enjoy the variability from day to day, season to season. I enjoy the fact that running an operation requires knowledge in many things and requires multiple talents.” Know When To Give Up–One of the best pieces of advice Martin has ever received is knowing when to dump a plant. “You have to get over all the time and effort put into the crop and realize it’s perishable. It is a sacrifice of the one for the many. If you retain an old and […]

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December 2, 2008

Farmers’ West Aids Rwanda With Flower Farm

Wilja Happé, owner of Farmers’ West Flowers & Bouquets in Carpinteria, Calif., traveled to Rwanda early last month, when she and General Manager Will Stewart established a community garden and flower farm as part of their visit with a relief group called Solace. Happé personally decided to get involved with relief efforts for Rwanda after her church was asked to donate money to purchase a dairy cow for widows and orphans through Solace ministries. The cow generated enough excitement in Rwanda that Happé’s church later donated money to pay for a nurse’s full-year salary. That, and an article about Dutch flower farms in the region, motivated Happé to visit Rwanda herself, and she did so with Stewart, a native of Zimbabwe. Together, Happé and Stewart shared their expertise and helped prepare cut flower gardens for the community’s farm, which is expected to be in full bloom with six to 10 […]

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December 2, 2008

Developing New Poinsettias

Today’s number one issue to solve is retail performance of the poinsettia. One of my biggest dreams is to see every poinsettia that is offered in the market looking as fresh as possible – not suffering shipping damage or warehouse stress – and at the same time have consumer appeal. It is interesting that this vision is not unique to today and was a vision of both my father, Paul Ecke Jr. and of my grandfather, Paul Ecke Sr. Twenty-five years can produce a lot of advancements that will help the grower be more efficient and reduce costs to produce, like having varieties that can grow at lower temperatures. Twenty-five years will provide the consumer with further exciting varieties just as we see today in ‘Ice Punch,’ ‘Jester’ and ‘Strawberries N Cream.’ As a breeder, we can already envision these products, but we hold before release, while we perfect conceptual […]

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November 24, 2008

Scotts’ Stance On Sustainability

Different companies have different takes on what sustainability really means. Some have the impression that sustainability is all about being organic, whereas others like the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company believe sustainability involves much more. Fred Hulme, technical services director for Scotts, shares his company’s take on it. “We believe that achieving sustainability is most simply expressed by the convergence of three equal elements–efficiency, economy and ecology–and how these elements can work together effectively,” Hulme says. “There’s just so much more to sustainability than the type of products you use, and it’s easy to lose sight of that fact. While sustainability does certainly entail leaving a smaller environmental footprint, it’s also about using the most effective products in the most efficient manner in order to increase profitability.” To express its stance on sustainability even better, Scotts developed a model it’s calling the e3 Approach–efficiency, economy and ecology–to challenge the belief that professional […]

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November 24, 2008

A Breeder’s Challenge

The last 25 years have seen dramatic changes for grower, retailers and the end consumer. Plants have become better performers in the garden and on the bench, with brighter, longer-lasting colors and enhanced resistance to diseases and pests. But there’s always room for improvement, and the industry’s leading companies are continuously looking for ways to improve their products to benefit growers, retailers and, of course, the end consumer. Here’s what some of those breeders think the next 25 years will bring in terms of new varieties, and what’s on the wish lists of some of Greenhouse Grower’s readers when it comes to breeding better plants. Developing New Poinsettias by Paul Ecke III Bedding Plants Of The Future by Nils Klemm Succeeding With Bedding Plants by P. Allen Hammer Breeding At Kieft by Jeff McGraw The Next “It” Plant by Steve Jones Perennials For Plant People by Mary Vaananen Benary’s Breeding […]

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November 24, 2008

Scholarships Available For Syngenta’s Grower Of Tomorrow

The Syngenta Grower of Tomorrow internship program is now in its second year and open to students pursuing degrees in agronomy or horticulture from 28 select universities in the United States. The first-place recipient will receive a $2,500 scholarship and a paid internship at Syngenta headquarters in North Carolina. Two other students will each receive $1,000 scholarships. To apply for a scholarship, click here or call (866) 796-4368. The internship is a great opportunity for any horticulture student. The intern may get to meet with mentors from Syngenta and its subsidiary companies, travel to industry events and trade shows like OFA Short Course and write an article on the experience.  Students from the following universities qualify for the Grower of Tomorrow internship program: –Auburn University–Clemson University–Colorado State University–Cornell University–Iowa State University–Kansas State University–Louisiana State University–Michigan State University–Mississippi State University–North Carolina State University–Ohio State University–Oregon State University–Penn State University–Purdue University–Texas A&M […]

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November 24, 2008

Ones To Watch: Jennifer Kurtz

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary, we are profiling people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its 22nd week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Jennifer Kurtz of Kurtz Farms in Cheshire, Conn. Age–36 Her Job – Jennifer is sales and marketing manager at Kurtz Farms based in Cheshire, Conn. She also invented Urban Gardener planters and created programs for it as a means to provide instant impact for consumers looking to decorate with plants. The Birth Of An Idea–As a wife, mother to a 3-year-old child and full-time worker, Jennifer didn’t have the time needed to tend to her vegetable and flower gardens like she preferred. It made sense, then, to develop a product that provided an “instant impact.” Thus, the Urban Gardener was created. “The biggest lesson I learned is that people were willing to […]

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November 24, 2008

Miami Recognizes Costa’s Contributions

Tony Costa, founder of Costa Farms, started his farm with a few acres for tomatoes 47 years ago and built his company into one of the world’s largest producers of tropical plants. The company’s success has obviously benefited South Florida economically, and Miami Mayor Carlos Alvarez recognized Costa’s contribution last Thursday by declaring Nov. 20 “Tony Costa Day.” “All of this growth is an outgrowth of Mr. Costa’s vision and dedication to the industry and our community,” Alvarez stated. “Individuals with extraordinary achievements should be praised and acknowledged.” Costa Farms now employs 2,000 people who work over 2,600 acres and generate more than $200 million in sales each year. Costa isn’t as active in the company as he once was, but he’s father to the current generation running the business. For more information on Costa Farms, visits its website here.

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November 24, 2008

A Changing Landscape by Vinny Naab

Think back 25 years ago and imagine what the retail landscape in the garden business looked like. Back then, Kmart truly was one of the few big box retailers that dominated the market. Wal-Mart and Home Depot were into huge growth cycles soon to be followed by Lowe’s. The garden business was driven by successful regional chains such as Bachman’s, Pike’s, Steins, Frank’s Nursery, Flower Time, Calloway’s, Gaudio’s and others. It was companies like these, along with thousands of independent garden centers, that ruled the roost in the garden retailing kingdom. Fast forward to today and notice the dramatic shift in the landscape. Consider that in the 25 years between then and now, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s combined to open about 5,000 retail locations between them. This has brought convenience to a new level, one never seen before for the gardening public. Customers have a lot more choices than […]

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November 24, 2008

VeriFlora Certifies South American Cut Flower Growers

Greenhouse growers of all sizes and even products have earned sustainability certification under the VeriFlora label this year. Add four prominent cut flower growers in Ecuador to the list of those who’ve earned certification after meeting the requirements of Scientific Certification Systems. The four cut flower growers, all of whom serve the North American market, are Valleflor, Sande Ecuador, SunRite Farms and Flower Village. Valleflor produces summer varieties like phlox, limonium and bouvardia; Sande Ecuador breeds and produces zantedeschia; SunRite Farms is a large producer of greenhouse roses; and Flower Village grows over 38 acres of roses, limonium, statice and eringium. “Cut flower farms in South America are leading the way in VeriFlora sustainability practices and setting important examples for others to follow,” says Roberto Boada, lead auditor for the Andean Sustainable Agriculture Certification Services Foundation, which is the first independent South American organization authorized to conduct VeriFlora certification audits.

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