December 30, 2010

Costa’s Top Field Trial Performers

New coleus, lantana and pentas were among the best performers by genus in the field trials this past summer at Costa Farms. Below, we present a list of the top-performing varieties by genus, as well as the best standalone performers in the trial. Click the images to the right for a slideshow of a few top performers at Costa. Top Genera Coleus–’Redhead’ and ‘Henna’ (Ball FloraPlant)–’Stained Glassworks Eruption’ and ‘Stained Glassworks Green Autry’ (Ecke Ranch) Begonia–’BIG Bronze Leaf Rose,’ ‘BIG Bronze Leaf Red’ and ‘BIG Green Leaf Red’ (Benary)–’Emperor Pink,’ ‘Emperor Red’ and ‘Inferno Pink’ (Sakata) Lantana–’Landmark White’ and ‘Lucky Pot of Gold’ (Ball FloraPlant)–’Lola,’ ‘Tropic Pineapple’ and ‘Tropic Pink Bird’ (GroLink)–’Dallas Red,’ ‘Pink Bird’ and ‘Starfruit’ (Dömmen)–’Bandana Trailing Gold,’ ‘Bandana Lemon Zest,’ ‘Bandana White,’ ‘Bandito Rose,’ and ‘Bandito Orange Sunrise’ (Syngenta Flowers) Gomphrena–’Las Vegas Purple,’ ‘Las Vegas Rose’ and ‘Las Vegas White’ (Benary) Pentas–’Graffiti Red Lace,’ ‘Kaleidoscope Deep Red’ […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: Modernizing The IGCs

The frustration in Jason Parks’ voice mounts as he discusses the independent garden center (IGC) market in the southern United States. As Parks describes, once great IGC retailers are approaching retirement age, and there isn’t a generation on their heels to take their place. The next potential retailers watched their parents or bosses work their back sides off to barely make a living. So why, Parks asks, would potential up-and-comers want to make a career as an IGC retailer? “It is different here in the South, with some exceptions, because the people we deal with are mostly small and mid-sized garden centers,” says Parks, the operations manager at Parks Brothers Farm in Van Buren, Ark. “A lot of them are hanging on for dear life.” Most retailers in the South are at least 50 years old, Parks says, and his family’s wholesale greenhouse operation has been doing business with many […]

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December 29, 2010

Kickin’ Around Combos

Sixteen different combinations are available in Four Star Greenhouse’s Streamliner program, but head grower Dennis Crum and his staff didn’t settle on those combos overnight. Instead, Four Star trialed more than 100 combinations before ultimately finding the 16 genera combinations that grow well together and bloom into beautiful finished products. “There are a number of things we have to look at,” Crum says. “One is rooting time. For the third genus, we’ll pick a scaevola or an ipomoea that stays in propagation longer. But it means if the one genus stays in an extra week, another one is going wild. It’s hard to even everything out without a lot of hand labor and plant growth regulators.” Still, despite the work that goes into producing combination baskets and planters, growers are finding there’s a market that’s becoming increasingly receptive to them. Growers have been producing combos for decades, yes, but the […]

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December 29, 2010

Which PGRs Growers Prefer

Imagine you only have the option of using one PGR in production for all time: Which product would you use and why? “Although there are newer products on the market, I have had great success with the paclobutrazol family of products, such as Bonzi and Piccolo. I use them as a spray on some varieties, drench on some plants and a sprench on others. It really keeps my annual bedding plants in check during our colder and cloudier months of January and February when plants in small cell packs and containers get out of control right before spring sales." – Michael Pawelek, Pecan Hill Nursery “We use [Bonzi], especially for Wave petunias – even growing Waves on the dry side or growing cool. We used B-9 on annuals many years ago until we got Bonzi down to an art.” – Robin Waldrop Sr., First Stage Greenhouse “First there was sliced […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: Survey Says!

Characterizing the state of the commercial greenhouse industry is a daunting task considering how segmented the industry is. Some growers supply box stores while others serve independent retailers. Some specialize in bedding plants while others primarily grow container perennials or flowering potted plants. And some have facilities that warrant their own zip codes while others produce plants in single greenhouses. The list of differences between U.S. greenhouse businesses is certainly a long one. At the end of each year, though, we survey growers to find out how the industry is doing as a whole. We ask growers about the year’s sales and their sales expectations for the coming year, as well as questions about opportunities and challenges their businesses are facing. This year, we also surveyed suppliers of growers (i.e. chemicals, containers, fertilizers, etc.) about their sales, prices and priorities for 2011. Here’s what we learned. Sales Analysis Both growers […]

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December 29, 2010

Supplementing The H-2A Program

A Midwestern grower, like many of his colleagues across the country, has a difficult time pinning down reliable, hard-working Americans to work in his greenhouses. He’s turned to H-2A on occasion for labor solutions, but the program is a costly one and litigation prone, so he’s looked for help elsewhere. Two places the grower has turned are the Communications for America Education Program (CAEP) and the Minnesota Agricultural Student Trainee (MAST) program. Both have become great labor sources for him and easier to manage than H-2A. Both are also programs many growers know little about. “What I like about CAEP is they’re nice people to deal with, they are flexible and they try to find you the people who best match your individual situation,” says the Midwestern grower. “Some other programs do that, too.” MAST is a flexible program, as well, and it’s one the Midwestern grower heard about through […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: Greenhouse Trends And Predictions

  Is the greenhouse floriculture industry a healthy industry? Your answer likely depends, in part, on the health of your own business. Sales are up for a number of growers–or at least flat compared to 2009–and expectations are high as we enter a new year. Still, whether you’re pleased with your past year’s sales or not, every business is but a drop in the bucket that is the greenhouse floriculture industry. Collectively, growers tend to agree the industry has work to do to achieve everyone’s ultimate goals: reaching more consumers and selling more plants. Growers, of course, are big believers in the value of plants, as are the retailers they serve. So why, industry leaders continually wonder, can’t a grower’s passion carry over to consumers on a bigger scale? It’s a question to which growers have always been searching for answers. And when the answers are found, the possibilities, growers […]

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December 29, 2010

State Of The Industry: What Keeps You Up At Night?

A grower’s list of concerns these days is a long one. From poor spring weather and disinterested consumers to increasing government regulations and succession plans, growers have more weight on their minds than ever. But as stressful as rainy spring weekends and wondering whether your kids are willing to handle the load of your business, the issue keeping more growers up at night than any other is, perhaps no surprise, the economy. “I sleep well but the economy is my number one concern,” says Steve Free, Grass Creek Greenhouse. “In the past, I felt our industry was relatively recession proof, but growing federal debt and the current administration’s intent to raise taxes troubles me.” In our annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked growers to rate their level of concern about a list of 10 topics on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being not concerned at […]

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December 29, 2010

Petitti And Eagle Creek Unite

Sometimes, the best career move one can make is to take a step back. Jill Bonner Cain reached that point with the birth of her baby boy in May and decided to sell the retail operation she founded in 2002, Eagle Creek Garden Center in Bainbridge, Ohio. “The biggest thing was starting a family for me,” Cain says. “There are not enough hours in the day and  I want to raise my child, not just put him in daycare. With retail, it’s a 365-days-a-year, 24/7 kind of business.” When Cain and her family began to discuss the idea of selling the upscale, destination garden center, one local garden center chain came to mind as a possible buyer: Petitti Garden Centers. Owned and operated by Angelo Petitti and his family, the Petittis had seven garden centers located throughout Northeast Ohio. “There was really only one person who could take over an […]

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December 29, 2010

Avoiding Rookie Mistakes With PGRs

“Every grower moves the decimal point at some point,” Morris says. “Instead of putting a 1 down you put a 10. I laugh about it, because it happens. I don’t know a grower who hasn’t done it once. You’re in a hurry and you know better, but it still happens.” Fortunately, some PGR mishaps are correctable. In Morris’ case, applying 10 times the amount of Bonzi wasn’t the end of the world. Certain chemicals, she’s found, can help prevent simple mistakes from wiping out a crop. “I have growers who beat themselves up about it,” Morris says. “But did you learn something? As long as you learn from it and don’t do it again, it’s OK.” Even if a mistake isn’t correctable, the key is learning from it. All growers will make mistakes–some may be mistakes to which you can look back and laugh–but taking those experiences and pocketing them […]

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