December 22, 2010
State Of The Industry: 2011 Economic Outlook
The recovery remained lackluster in the third and fourth quarters of 2010, with GDP (gross domestic product) growth coming in at around 2.0 percent. We should, however, start to see the economy begin to reaccelerate in 2011. Consumer spending is expected to regain momentum as long as the increases in employment that are expected actually come into fruition. Housing should start to respond to record-low rates and exports and equipment spending are expected to remain strong. On net, real GDP is forecast to rise 2.5 percent in the first quarter and move back into the 3 percent range in the second quarter. Again, as I have said before, this will be a slow recovery but hopefully a smarter recovery this time around. Two Lifestyles During Recession One very interesting outcome of the Great Recession is that it has divided America into two groups that are roughly the same size yet […]
September 28, 2010
Change Is The Only Constant
The most difficult task for any columnist is to project, due to publishing deadlines, what the major industry-related issues will be and what readers will be interested in three months down the road. But one would literally have their head in the sand not to recognize that the upcoming elections in November will be one of the issues causing the buzz when this issue hits the streets. Everyone already knows the 2010 elections are significant and competitive. Let’s add record-setting to that description. Why? – 2010 features the most U.S. Senate seats on the November ballot (37) since 1962. – 2010 also has the most elections for governor ever on the same ballot (also 37). – 2010 has produced one of the highest percentages of Democratic-versus-Republican House lineups in modern history. Fully 405 of 435 House races have both a Democrat and a Republican running for the seat. Democrats have […]
June 18, 2010
Breaking Down Our Economy
As I am writing this, Mother’s Day weekend has come to a close and we are in the midst of a strong lawn and gardening spring season. Indications across the country have pointed to robust sales, albeit some regions have experienced stronger sales than others. I would anticipate with the weather patterns evidenced this year, summer may even surprise us. Of course, fall is our next biggest time of the year and as long as weather cooperates, the other major influencing factor is the economy. The good news is the economy continues to show signs of recovery. Real GDP grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter this year, as strong growth in consumer spending and inventory rebuilding contributed to the bulk of the improvement during the quarter. Business investment was supported by equipment and software spending, but investment in structures continues to lag. Government outlays were […]
March 23, 2010
Reasons For Optimism
Unbelieveable. That’s the best way to describe some of the events that have occurred since my last column. The Massachusetts special election has rocked the political world and profoundly affected the prospects for health reform just when it looked like passage was a lock. Efforts are under way to put health reform legislation together again on Capitol Hill, but it will look dramatically different than the version proposed by either the House or Senate. All of this goes to show the one thing that is certain in politics is uncertainty. Unfortunately, that uncertainty carries over into the marketplace and affects the confidence of businesses and industries, sometimes to the point that the level of business investment is hindered – which is precisely the situation we have found ourselves in recent months. However, heading into spring, several of the leading business confidence indicators reflect a more optimistic mindset on the part […]
November 20, 2009
The Other ‘R’ Word
Several signs are pointing to the likelihood that we are now in economic recovery. The gross domestic product (GDP) for the last half of 2009 was positive and most indices are reflecting a turnaround scenario. Even the housing market has been showing signs of stabilization. Not exactly a robust recovery, but certainly an end to the precipitous decline we saw in 2007 and 2008. The recovery phase will be marked by ongoing price declines in many locales, albeit more gradual ones. We will also see a gradual stabilization in sales rates, a gradual decline in the level of inventory for sale and a gradual bottoming out of construction activity. Again, though, the word to emphasize is “gradual.” The new home industry has done a good job of reducing supply with inventory for sale now in line with the long-term average. But the existing home market is still oversupplied, and we […]
September 16, 2009
Economy Poised For Glacially-Paced Recovery
Optimism about the apparent ending of the recession has been tempered by the reality of substantial further deterioration in employment conditions and ongoing struggles with state and local government budgets. Real GDP is expected to rise slightly during the third quarter, as inventory liquidations slow dramatically and consumer spending is revived. The end of the recession, however, does not mark the end of the economy’s troubles. Economic activity will likely remain somewhat subdued well into 2010, and the unemployment rate will likely rise through the middle of next year, topping out at around 10.5 percent. On the upside, there is a great deal of stimulus in the pipeline, including the $787 billion economic recovery act, low interest rates, the completion of a colossal drawdown in inventories and the prospect of falling gasoline prices. On the downside, employment losses remain massive and the unemployment rate continues to increase, albeit at a […]
June 18, 2009
Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Even though the first estimate of the year’s first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) shows overall economic growth contracting 6.1 percent, the latest BEA report contained good news for economic prospects later this year. Businesses dumped $104 billion in inventories, compared to reductions of less than $30 billion in each of the previous two quarters. That means companies will need to stop laying off workers and start producing goods again in order to meet even a modest uptick in demand. Most economists expect gross domestic product to contract 1.4 percent at a seasonally adjusted annualized pace in the second quarter of 2009, compared with the 6.1 percent drop recorded in the first quarter. Slow, but positive, growth is expected to return by the third quarter, with the economy expanding more than 2 percent in the first half of 2010. One bright spot in today’s economy is consumers seem to be spending […]
April 25, 2009
Value Never Needs A Stimulus
Much attention has been placed in the media of late regarding the economic stimulus package, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At various meetings I have attended, growers have asked how the stimulus package will impact their business. The following are some of the major provisions of the stimulus package of interest to small business, according to Small Business Legislative Council: – It allows small businesses to take upfront deductions of up to $250,000 on the cost of equipmentâ€“such as computers, vehicles, furniture and manufacturing machineryâ€“instead of depreciating the investment over a number of years. The deduction was slated to end in 2008, but was extended through 2009. – It extends a bonus depreciation allowing small businesses to deduct half the cost of new qualifying capital equipment expenditures purchased in 2009, if the equipment is put into use by Jan. 1, 2010. – It temporarily broadens the […]
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 […]
May 3, 2016
5 Things Gardens Bloggers And Writers Learned At Califo…
For the second year in a row, the National Garden Bureau hosted five popular garden bloggers and writers on a trip to California Spring Trials. Here’s what each of them had to say about their experience.
May 2, 2016
A Fire At A New Hampshire Garden Center Challenges Spri…
Petal Pushers Farm in Laconia, NH, suffered a two-alarm fire two weeks prior to Mother's Day Weekend. It is already back up and running, but is scrambling to replace its losses.
May 2, 2016
Surprise Customers With Over-The-Top Service This Mothe…
The day before Thanksgiving a few years ago, I reluctantly pulled into Central Market’s parking lot. Central Market is a popular, high-end Texas grocery store chain, the luxury brand for the middle-of-the-road HEB stores. As expected, the parking lot was packed. There wasn’t a space in the main part of the sizable lot, so I had to park some distance away. It wasn’t a promising start to what I fully expected to be an irritating afternoon. But I was making butternut squash soup and providing wine for the holiday dinner the next day, and so I couldn’t procrastinate any longer. I was doomed to endure the busiest shopping day of the year for grocery stores. I grabbed a mini double-decker cart, resigned to cranky crowds and jostling for space in the produce aisles. I walked in and paused to figure out where I could find the butternut squash. Almost instantly, an […]
May 1, 2016
Produce Marketing Association Plans Floral Supply Chain…
The PMA Fresh Connections: Floral events will unveil new market research and trends, while offering insights into the changing landscape of floral retailing.
April 30, 2016
Registration Is Open For Farwest 2016 In Portland, OR
This year’s show takes place Aug. 25-27 and features educational sessions, nursery and retail tours, and an expansive trade show floor.
April 29, 2016
Kelly Norris: Why The Plant Collector Market Is Set To …
In his latest column for Greenhouse Grower magazine, Kelly Norris says there are more plant collectors out there than we think, which opens the way for the gift plant market to explode.
April 29, 2016
Do Customers Really Care How Plants Are Grown?
The consumer uprising against neonicotinoids has roiled the industry over the past couple of years. In June 2013, someone applied pesticide to a tree in full bloom, using the product in an off-label manner. That misapplication killed tens of thousands of bees, capturing the attention of activists. A short three years later, that activism has led to policy changes for big chains like The Home Depot and Lowe’s. Several cities and towns across the country have banned the sale of neonicotinoids. All of this made me curious. How was all the publicity affecting consumer attitudes at local garden stores? Traditionally, customers have shown little interest in how flowering plants are grown, other than they like the idea that they are from a local source. They have been much more particular about food plants than they have ornamentals. So I sent questions out to a few retailers across the country, and […]
April 28, 2016
Why Ornamental Grasses Are Great For People In Condos A…
Allan Armitage says breeders need to do a better job of making growers, brokers, and garden centers aware of better ornamental grass cultivars for the increasingly shrinking garden space.
April 28, 2016
Holistic, Integrated Approach To Pest Control Rooted In…
Greenhouse growers have been practicing integrated pest management for decades, but it’s becoming increasingly more important with the continued scrutiny of conventional pest control by a number of “regulators” — government, retail, and consumers. I just returned from Meister Media Worldwide’s Biocontrols USA 2016 Conference, in Monterey, CA, at the beginning of March this year, which served 450 attendees and 50 exhibiting supplier companies. It’s clear from the presentations and the growing attendance at this specialized event — now only in its second year — that use of biocontrols in IPM will continue to be adopted widely, as more growers get past their personal hurdles of doubt and intimidation, and embrace a new way to approach pest and disease control. Many growers think of using biocontrols as an all-or-nothing approach, but ultimately, IPM is about balance. Growers will need to continue to focus on IPM, integrating chemistry with biology, because […]
April 26, 2016
Fine Americas Offers A Digital Resource For Plant Growt…
The blog section of Fine America’s website is updated regularly, with input from both technical managers and independent researchers
April 26, 2016
“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, Accord…
Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.
April 26, 2016
Cicadas Set To Emerge In Several Eastern States This Sp…
While there’s no immediate cause for alarm, experts say the cicada’s egg-laying process can damage woody ornamentals and make them vulnerable to diseases.