December 28, 2009

Make It Happen Again

Every obstacle presents an opportunity. Our industry has taken advantage of opportunities before, and now we have to do it again. At Christmas, you could see big changes in approach occurring at the major retailers. The major Christmas toy sales started in mid-October, and the major toy stores and mega-chains started selling toys at year-end prices. Walmart had a Black Friday sale that lasted all day and all night. Brand name toys were selling at $10 apiece, with hundreds of different toys priced in this range. Kmart advertised layaway plans with little or no interest that attracted many early buyers and also helped them pay for purchases made in October over a three-month period. If you read any of the business magazines, you’ve realized the large retailers were going to get their product early and sell as much as they could at discount prices. Their goal was to make certain […]

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December 28, 2009

State Of The Industry: Overview

Last year was hardly a cakewalk for growers. In fact, some will argue it was the most challenging they’ve ever faced. The weather was uncooperative in certain regions, competition became a bigger challenge for more growers, and labor, energy and input costs didn’t provide many breaks.   No greenhouse operation is immune to these challenges − although some face them with more ease than others − as we saw El Modeno Gardens, a Top 100 Grower, close its doors along with other operations in 2009. Times are indeed tough, but you can argue our industry is faring better than others. Many growers have found there’s still demand for their products − even in a down economy − and there’s opportunity to increase demand more if growers listen closely to customers and offer products consumers want. Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Report hones in on what those opportunties are. […]

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December 28, 2009

Dutch Horticultural Developments

The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of The Netherlands brought horticulture magazine editors from around the world together in October to showcase the latest innovations, systems and technologies Dutch growers currently employ. Editors visited Horti Fair, the FloraHolland Trade Fair and the Dutch Flower Auction, among other places throughout The Netherlands. We present the highlights here, and you’ll find more Dutch horticultural developments at GreenhouseGrower.com/OnLocation/International. Horti Fair’s Top Product Labor is a killer, right? It might even be the biggest issue your greenhouse operation deals with. But if you’re a Phalaenopsis orchid grower and you didn’t attend Horti Fair, you’re likely unaware of Hortiquip, a Dutch company that recently designed a labor-saving machine for you. Hortiquip’s new machine is a staking machine, and it uses laser technology to position stakes to support plants, including the automatic attachment of clips. It works something like this: Imagine you’ve potted your […]

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December 28, 2009

The 99-Cent Poinsettia

I sifted through the Black Friday ads like many people Thanksgiving morning to see which products retailers were offering at mega-low prices. Big-screen TVs, digital cameras and navigation devices, many of which were displayed on ad covers, were some of the biggest draws. The cover of Home Depot’s Black Friday ad in my region had a different look: 6-inch poinsettias originally priced at $3.98 were being offered for 99 cents. There was a limit of 10 poinsettias per purchase, and the offer was for Friday only. For the record, Lowe’s also had a 99-cent poinsettia promotion on the cover of its ad, but Home Depot’s was the one that shocked me most because of the space dedicated to the 99-cent doorbuster. The promotion, appearing near the top of the ad’s first sheet with a block of white lettering that read “99¢,” was the first thing my eyes were drawn to. […]

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December 23, 2009

Checking In With Rocket Farms

Based in Salinas, Calif., Rocket Farms is the largest poinsettia grower on the West Coast, devoting 4.4 million square feet of greenhouse space to producing the signature Christmas crop. Sales Manager Doug Brothers shares the trends from this season. Outside of floriculture, Rocket Farms is known for vegetable transplants. Poinsettias were its first big floriculture crop and the company has since expanded into phalaenopsis orchids. Rocket Farms is unique from most large operations growing poinsettias in that it still grows and maintains mother stock plants to take cuttings from instead of receiving cuttings from offshore.  As the season was getting under way Dec. 8, Brothers shared details on this year’s crop and retail demand. GG: How many poinsettias will Rocket Farms produce this year?  1,400,000 – In what sizes?   2.5″–4.5″–5″–6.5″–8″–10″  – Colors?  72 percent red, 28 percent colors.    – Varieties?  Too many to list..  Including red, we grow 45 different varieties from four different […]

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December 22, 2009

Not Shipoopi – ‘Fubuki!’

In Japan, “Fubuki” means “snowstorm.” So ‘Fubuki,’ the new Hakonechloa ornamental grass from Briggs Nursery featuring white variegated Japanese Forest grass, lives up to its name. The contrasting tones of white and green foliage endure throughout the summer making Hakonechloa macra ‘Fubuki’ an outstanding plant for shade gardeners and partial sun locations. And for even greater impact, as soon as the weather changes in autumn, ‘Fubuki’ reveals a stunning pink color among the blades. “Our never-before-seen white Hakonechloa is a striking superior form adding unique sculptural features and wonderful color to landscapes,” says Dave Jarzynka, president of Briggs Nursery. ‘Fubuki’ is a compact and mounding habit plant that tends to be lower in height than comparable cultivars and reaches 14 by 18 inches. ‘Fubuki’ makes a great choice for beds, borders, as a specimen or grouped with three to five plants. It grows best in USDA Zone 5. For more […]

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December 22, 2009

Five Questions With … Denise Godfrey

Denise Godfrey of Olive Hill Greenhouses in Fallbrook, Calif., shares her take on the state of the industry this week. How would you describe the state of the greenhouse floriculture industry today? Like the rest of the economic sectors, we are suffering from decreased demand and we hope to maintain during this uncertainty by looking at old and new ideas and technology; by relying more on relationships and working together with fellow growers, suppliers and customers to better define and react to what is happening; to take advantage of opportunities; and to maintain a positive outlook in order to overcome adversity and persevere. Has our industry entered a new era or paradigm shift? Please explain why or why not. We no longer grow in a vacuum, growing and selling plants and the customer deciding their purchase on beauty and a fair price. The public is having more and more influence […]

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December 21, 2009

Emerald Coast Growers Taps Friel For Marketing

Emerald Coast Growers has hired John Friel as its marketing manager. Friel brings over 30 years experience in the greenhouse industry to his new position. A familiar face on the lecture circuit, Friel served in a number of positions in transportation, sales and marketing with Green Leaf Enterprises, Yoder Brothers and the Green Leaf Plants division of Aris Horticulture. Emerald Coast Growers is a family-owned propagation nursery headquartered in Pensacola, Fla, with greenhouses in Lancaster County, Pa. Founded in 1991 by David and Wyona Babikow, the firm specializes in starter plants of ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennials, which it ships throughout North America. Friel is a former regional director and current president elect of the Perennial Plant Association. For more information on him or Emerald Coast Growers, visit ECGrowers.com.

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December 21, 2009

Wishing Will Well

A friend to hundreds of growers across the country, Will Carlson was hospitalized with a serious illness in late November. Will retired from Michigan State University in 2002 and has been active in his retirement writing his column for Greenhouse Grower, “One to Grow On,” and consulting for growers. This March will mark 36 years Will has been writing columns for Greenhouse Grower and before that American Vegetable Grower–a wonderful record of service to the horticulture industry. While Will recovers, we will be publishing a few of his best columns that continue to stand the test of time. These can also be found in the book we published in 2003, “One To Grow On.” Will’s friends and loved ones are pulling for his recovery. Cards may be sent to his home at 6330 Pine Hollow Drive, East Lansing, MI 48823. While Will recovers, he asks growers interested in getting in […]

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December 20, 2009

Metrolina’s Tom Van Wingerden Dies In Accident

We lost one of our industry’s greatest visionaries on Saturday when Tom Van Wingerden, founder of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C, died in a utility vehicle accident early in the morning at the greenhouses. He was 63. Born in Holland on Feb. 12, 1946, Tom was one of the eldest children of Art and Cora Van Wingerden, who are credited with building the modern greenhouse floriculture industry in the United States. Tom immigrated to the United States in 1971 and started Metrolina a year later in his mid 20s. Today, Metrolina Greenhouses is ranked at No. 6 on our Top 100 Growers with the largest single-site location in the nation with 5.4 million square feet of greenhouse production on a 150-acre site. Beyond sheer size and excelling at serving the nation’s largest retailers, Metrolina has always been known for its pioneering use of technology, on the cutting edge of automation. […]

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December 18, 2009

North Florida Poinsettia Retail Report

With cool and wet weather, the traffic in many stores on Friday, December 4 was much lower than I anticipated. However, with less rain on Saturday, many stores experienced an increase in consumer shopping. By the afternoon of Saturday, December 5, the sun came out and more consumers were out shopping. Poinsettias were seen in many shopping carts and live Christmas trees were moving out at a furious pace. Walmart Walmart focused on high-volume items offering 6-inch, 6.5-inch, 1-gallon, 8-inch and a really nice poinsettia/foliage 12-inch bowl. The 8-inch poinsettia retailing for $9 was an exceptional value, as well as the poinsettia/foliage Bowl at $15. Walmart’s overall product quality from Metrolina Greenhouses was above average with good packaging and well-placed displays. The biggest challenge Walmart faces is having enough covered selling areas with some stores forced to sell in shade structures and outside areas. Overall, Walmart continues to upgrade its […]

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December 17, 2009

PIA Honors Todd Bachman Posthumously

Three long-time industry leaders were inducted into the Interior Plantscape Hall of Fame at the Interior Plantscape Hall of Fame and Plantscape Industry Alliance (PIA) awards banquet held during CalScape Expo in October. The 2009 Interior Plantscape Hall of Fame inductees are: –Richard Parker, Plantscaping Professional; –Tom Acklin, Allied Trade Professional; and –Todd Bachman, Posthumous Inductee   Nominations for the 2010 Interior Plantscape Hall of Fame are currently being accepted. All nominations are due January 8. Complete information about the Hall of Fame inductees and program may be found by clicking the Hall of Fame navigation bar at PIAgrows.org. CalScape Expo 2010 will be held in San Diego. E-mail [email protected] for more information.

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December 16, 2009

Using Distribution Hubs

Producing a quality plant is just the first step. Finding an efficient and cost-effective way to get that quality plant from the greenhouse to the customer is something else entirely. A number of growers have responded by using distribution hubs to control delivery costs, get plants to their final destination in better shape, and in some cases, open doors to new opportunities and markets. Delivering New Relationships EuroAmerican Propagators’ efforts to refine its shipping schedules will most likely lead to improved deliveries for its propagation facility, as well as a number of fellow propagators in Southern California this spring. Rich Ouellet, EuroAmerican’s director of marketing and sales, says the Euro Transportation Team, led by manager Kenny Soles, spent a great deal of time over the last several months sorting through delivery records and building a historical picture of its last five years of orders. EuroAmerican used the information to develop a new […]

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December 16, 2009

The Palazzo’s Poinsettia Polar Bears

The highly anticipated poinsettia polar bears have been unveiled at The Palazzo in Las Vegas. The flower topiaries are made up of 8,000 ‘Polar Bear’ poinsettias, and the tallest stands 16 feet high. Audra Danzak, horticulture director for The Palazzo and Venetian, developed the concept and enlisted world-renowned designer Stephen Stefanou of Design Solutions in Texas for the actual design and construction. Armstrong Growers and The Ecke Ranch worked together with Danzak and Stefanou to devise a way to keep the poinsettias in place and looking fresh. The structure incorporates a drip irrigation system that is supplemented with hand watering to keep the poinsettia polar bears looking fresh. The ‘Polar Bear’ poinsettias were planted one at a time by a crew of 12 people during the night for nearly a week. For each ‘Polar Bear’ poinsettia sold, the Ecke Ranch will make a donation to Polar Bears International (PBI). PBI […]

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December 16, 2009

Bailey Nurseries’ Bee Balm For Summer

This third edition to the Grand Bee Balm series, the Grand Mum Bee Balm starts blooming in mid-summer, showing off large, pink flowers and fragrant foliage. Its compact height of 20- to 24-inches makes it a good addition to your perennial garden, attracting hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Grand Mum also makes a great container plant. Bred at the Morden Research Centre in Morden, Manitoba, Canada, Grand Mum features a tight, rounded habit with dark green leaves and square stems. Grand Mum is very disease resistant, easy to grow and hardy to Zone 3. For more on Grand Mum, visit BaileyNurseries.com.

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December 15, 2009

Poinsettia Retail Report

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery spent time last Friday visiting big box garden centers and supermarkets in Jacksonville, Fla. Here are his findings: December 11 was a cool overcast day with temperatures in the 40s, but it did not seem to deter shoppers as they were in abundance at most retailers. Poinsettias and live Christmas trees were moving off shelves at a good pace. As we get to the end of poinsettia season discounts were starting to appear on select items. Most inventories were leaning to more red with very few novelties available. Walmart With a focus on fewer but high volume SKUs and high-performing vendors, Walmart has clearly enhanced the poinsettia category. Some stores have built attractive displays that garner the attention of their customers. Walmart’s seemingly biggest challenge is the outside displays with the potential of frost and rain. Product quality and packaging has improved year over year and […]

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December 15, 2009

Growing In The Mountain States

The last 30 years have been a steady climb for Olson’s Greenhouse serving national retailers in the Rocky Mountain States. Based just south of Salt Lake City in Salem, Utah, the business began four generations ago in 1942, when Bart Olson’s grandfather, Roy, was working in the mines and produced tomato plants to sell to his fellow miners. He built wooden A-frame structures and expanded production to include bedding plants, which were sold retail and to other mom-and-pop retailers throughout the state. Meanwhile, Bart’s father, Jack, started his own operation three blocks away completely focused on producing greenhouse-grown tomatoes in three acres of wooden structures. “We all helped grandpa as well,” Bart recalls. “In the early 1970s my mother also wanted to grow bedding plants, and we bought grandpa’s place. Then in 1979, my two brothers and I decided we would really make something of this business and set up […]

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December 15, 2009

Proven Winners Announces Seminar Series

Proven Winners announces the dates and locations of its 2010 Outdoor Living Extravaganzas. –Dallas, Texas–February 6–Salt Lake City, Utah–February 20–Chicago, Ill.–March 6–Minneapolis, Minn.–March 13–Vancouver, B.C.–March 26 and 27–Boston, Mass.–April 24 Check the company’s event webpage to see the reviews from last year’s attendees, the list of nationally-known speakers and to register to attend the event. By purchasing your ticket prior to January 1, you will receive a $10 discount. If you are one of the first 100 people to register, you will receive a free Proven Winners wall calendar. Proven Winners recommends early registration–seats are limited and the events sold out quickly last year.

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