August 25, 2008

Winter Tire Tips

With temperatures continuing to dip and clouds beginning to form, it won’t be long till Old Man Winter’s wrath of rain, sleet and snow begins to pelt roadways. Combine nature’s moisture with cold temperatures and you have many factors to consider in preparing for winter driving. Below are tips from Tim Miller, Goodyear’s commercial tire marketing communications manager, on how to prepare for winter driving. Choose the Right Tread Having an “aggressive” drive-axle tread pattern is very important for single drive-axle tractors and straight trucks. A pattern with lots of lugs will dig into snow and provide better traction. If you run a tandem-axle rig, you’re doubling the drive and traction and, depending upon the severity of weather, can get enough grip with traditional over-the-road drive tires that are designed for good traction and long miles to removal. The key thing for traction is having lots of gripping edges for […]

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August 25, 2008

Ones To Watch: Alex Fell

As part of Greenhouse Grower’s 25th anniversary celebration, we are profiling industry people we expect to shape the industry for the better over the next 25 years. Now in its ninth week online, our Ones To Watch series continues with Alex Fell of Kraft Gardens. Age–35 His Job–Alex is sales manager at Kraft Gardens, his uncle’s greenhouse operation in Florida. He graduated from Florida State in 1996 and held a sales management position outside the industry before joining the family business in 1999. Satisfaction - Rolling out new products with success is gratifying to Alex, especially because the indoor foliage segment of the industry doesn’t enjoy as many new introductions as the color or outdoor landscape segments do. Staying Up To Speed–In the last few years, the development of Lean Flow manufacturing processes has improved productivity in all areas of operations. Optimizing efficiency in plant movement and production has also […]

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August 25, 2008

Wal-Mart Sticks With Politics

Wal-Mart is preparing to launch a series of TV ads during the Democratic and Republication National Conventions that will highlight how consumers worried about the economy can save money by shopping at its stores. Reuters reports ads will run on cable news networks like CNN and MSNBC through September 7. The conventions are ideal for Wal-Mart ads, a company spokesperson says, because more than half of all Americans surveyed by Voter/Consumer Research of Washington, DC said they are more likely to shop at Wal-Mart now compared to six months ago.  “Americans are facing unprecedented financial challenges and we see them in our stores every day–working men and women living paycheck to paycheck and faced with difficult decisions,” says Eduardo Castro-Wright, a Wal-Mart CEO. “This new advertising campaign reinforces that we will continue to be there for them.” To read the full Reuters story, click here.

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August 25, 2008

USDA Objects To Sustainability Standards Movement

The wheels are in motion toward the establishment of a national standard for sustainable agriculture, but USDA recently spoke out against the potential impact of the proposed standard and the process that will create it in a letter to Leonardo Academy President Michael Arny. OFA revealed the letter in a recent e-bulletin. USDA Deputy Secretary Charles F. Conner wrote the letter to Arny, arguing inconsistencies exist between the proposed draft standard and United States domestic and international policies. “The wording of the law indicates a broad definition of sustainable agriculture, recognizing sustainability can be achieved by employing various methodologies and practices,” Connor wrote. “The definition is intentionally broad and does not exclude particular practices or technology that may contribute to achieving that sustainability. “We believe that standards developed for U.S. agriculture, whether public or private, need to be consistent with U.S. laws and policies.” Connor also wrote USDA has always […]

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August 20, 2008

Adjust Is A Must

Our country has gone from being on top of the world to working its way toward the bottom. The Wall Street group has gone from making millions to losing billions. The housing industry has followed the same pattern from boom to bust and foreclosure. I’ve pondered how the bedding plant industry should react to this period of time when the entire economy goes from boom to bust. This year will also be recorded as one of the worst plant seasons because of very poor weather conditions. You had wildfires in the West, record floods along the Mississippi River, late frosts in the Midwest and northeastern states and drought in the Southeast. It’s hard to sell plants to people whose houses have just burned down. It’s also hard to sell plants to people whose yards are under 10 feet of water. While we can’t control the economy or the weather conditions, […]

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August 20, 2008

Perennial Personalities

The perennials side of our industry is an interesting and eclectic mix. You will find some of the most creative, passionate and progressive horticulturists. As part of Greenhouse Grower magazine’s 25th anniversary celebration, we thought it would be fun to present 25 “Perennial Personalities.” Just like perennials, they come back year after year and can be seen at all the perennial conferences, as educators, attendees or exhibitors. We present 12 of the 25 this month and the remaining 13 next month in our October issue. DARREL APPS - Hybridizing daylilies has been a passion for Apps, who was an ornamentals educator for 25 years as an Extension agent in Wisconsin and Kentucky, associate professor at Penn State and the head of the education department at Longwood Gardens. With Centerton Nursery in New Jersey, he developed the Trophytaker Daylilies and Happy Ever Appster brand. He is retired in Wisconsin and still […]

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August 18, 2008

Van Wingerden Fire Investigation Continues

Authorities in Henderson County, N.C., are still investigating the fire at Van Wingerden International last week and have not revealed a cause just yet. The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office has, however, joined the Henderson County Fire Department investigation, and both parties seem to be convinced the fire was no accident. “We have ascertained that it was most likely not naturally occurring, but beyond that we cannot say at this time,” Henderson County Sheriff’s Capt. Charlie McDonald told The Times-News early last week. “There is still a great deal of investigation to take place, and saying anything further would be speculative at best on our part. “There is some interesting information that has come forward,” McDonald continued, declining to elaborate. Van Wingerden owner Bert Lemkes, meanwhile, met with an insurance investigator. The company was insured for the loss, Lemkes says, but Van Wingerden will ultimately still lose some money–even after a […]

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August 13, 2008

Van Wingerden Fire Causes $2.5M In Damages

  Firefighters battle flames late Sunday night at Van Wingerden International in Mills River, N.C. (Mike Dirks/Times-News) A fire at Van Wingerden International in Mills River, N.C., that investigators are calling suspicious destroyed a 3-acre greenhouse filled with poinsettias Sunday night and, according to the company, caused $2.5 million in total damages. The Times-News in Hendersonville, N.C., reported the story. As of Monday night, investigators had eliminated every accidental cause except smoking material like matches and cigarettes. Fourteen fire departments from three counties were called to the scene late Sunday night. The fire began at the south end of the greenhouse, and shade cloth draped across houses led to an easy spread. The blaze was especially difficult for firefighters to battle because the plastic roof melted and dripped onto firefighters in a hot lava form. The melted plastic also created toxic smoke. “It was one of the worst-case scenarios for toxic […]

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August 1, 2008

The Green List: Growers

Raymond Cloyd Associate Professor, Extension Specialist, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan. ❑ Sanitation: Remove weeds, plant and growing media debris regularly from the greenhouse. These are sources of insect pest populations. ❑ Scouting: Initiate a scouting program that is designed to detect pests (insects and mites) early so that populations can be controlled easily. ❑ Properly time applications of pest control materials: Use the information obtained from scouting to time applications of pest control materials at the most vulnerable life stages (i.e. larvae and adults). ❑ Use biological controls: Gather as much background information as you can and consult biological control suppliers and Extension entomologists before implementing a biological control program. This will increase the likelihood for success. Also, be sure there is a commitment to initiating a biological control program. ❑ Obtain information on what pest control materials may be used in “sustainable production” programs. Then know the benefits […]

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July 24, 2008

Negotiating Your Way To Better Profits

You may not think of yourself as a negotiator but Harvard Business School professor Michael Watkins says you are. “Whatever your business, much of your time is spent negotiating,” he says. “There is no skill more essential to success for a business owner or manager than the ability to carry out a successful negotiation.” Whether you’re dealing with suppliers, customers, employees, financial sources or prospects, you are involved in the complex process we call negotiation. Although there are many books and courses on improving negotiating skills, Watkins, a nationally recognized expert on business negotiations, believes that most are of little help in dealing with real-life negotiating situations. In his book, “Breakthrough Business Negotiations,” Watkins teaches his students to break the process down into four fundamental steps. “While every negotiating situation will have its own unique characteristics and cast of players,” he says, “learning and using the ‘breakthrough’ approach will help […]

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July 22, 2008

A Sustainable Greenhouse And Nursery

The concept of “going green” may be a fairly recent phenomenon, but it is something Bordine Nursery in Michigan has been practicing for more than 10 years. Bordine Nursery is known for its purple signage and marketing and recently added a section to its Web site called “Purple Goes Green.” The section explains the many ways in which the nursery is using environmentally-friendly practices. Co-owner Calvin Bordine says that even though the site touts the store’s green practices, he does not consider what they do to be a movement. “There was never a sit-down meeting to say, ‘from this day forward …'” he says. “It’s just trying to do what makes sense. It’s something we’ve been working on for over 10 years. It’s now just become very trendy.” Bordine adds that he has good employees that also come up with suggestions, and he tours other areas for ideas. “We like […]

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