December 9, 2011

3 Simple Ways You Can Defend Our Rights & Help Grow The Industry

Life comes at us so fast in our businesses that we spend most of our days trying to avoid slamming into the trees rather than worrying about the size and state of the forest. But given the downward trends we hear about on a daily basis and their effect on our sales and bottom lines, it’s in your own best interest to look beyond your own thicket and devote a small percentage of your time tending to the health of the woodland that supports us all. A few suggestions: 1 Volunteer. So many organizations and events within our industry depend on volunteers. From state associations to tradeshows and beyond, volunteers are needed to be board members, arrange tours, make phone calls and write letters to state and local political leaders. You may not think the benefits to your business will be substantial enough to merit your time and, perhaps, a […]

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December 9, 2011

Why We Must Demand Quality

I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at the ANLA Management Clinic a couple years ago. I asked the audience at the start of my talk, “How many of you feel your quality is better than anyone else’s?” Well, almost every hand in the room went up. I chuckled to myself and started my talk by telling the audience they were kidding themselves. But how were they kidding themselves? To focus on quality means to create a culture of quality within your company. It’s how we look upon quality within our own businesses, and how it relates to the quality of our products. It’s the responsibility of everyone involved with the creation of the products or services offered by an organization. In other words, true quality capitalizes on the involvement of management, workforce, suppliers and even customers in order to meet or exceed customer expectations. So, this all […]

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December 9, 2011

A Young Person’s Perspective On Attracting The Next Horticultural Researchers

Young people think of horticulture as farming, and they think of farming as hard labor and low salaries. In their mind, farming is something older “country” people do because they were born into it. I cannot count how many times, especially as an undergraduate, the people who questioned my choice of major. As soon as I said the word “horticulture,” the response was: “Huh? You want to be a farmer?” Although their views of horticulture are predominately row-cropping and food production, it is not what I do. Don’t get me wrong, those things are necessities for human life, but I am a scientist–who happens to love plants! There is so much more to horticulture than producing corn: what about the sweet peaches we eat every summer, the beautiful blankets of grass that are so well maintained on golf courses (“turf”) or those red flowers that make living rooms brighter at […]

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December 9, 2011

20 Annuals Worth Selecting

We take great pride in the trial garden at the University of Georgia. We don’t trial for the sake of trialing, to make us look good or to give us something to do. We trial in the steadfast belief that what we do makes a difference. When we provide real data under real-world conditions, we do so in the belief that someone–breeders, growers, retailers and consumers– will pay attention. That they are, as seen by better plants being put in front of my daughters, speaks to quality of selection and freshness in the marketplace. Quality is not limited to fertility standards and spacing; quality is also what consumers, from landscapers to buyers, see when they have a little money to spend. So, in the steadfast belief that what we do does make a difference, here are the Classic City Award-winning annuals for 2011–the very best plants in the trial gardens […]

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December 9, 2011

FRA: Floriculture’s Own ‘Consumer Reports’ Group

Kube-Pak joined the Young Plant Research Group under the University of Florida’s Paul Fisher in 2005. The Floriculture Research Alliance (FRA) more recently grew out of that group. By joining, we have access to some of the brightest minds in our industry. Newfound Fungus Gnat Results One initial research area Paul focused on was fungus gnats. In the past, we had seen much research on this subject. But Paul was able to take the results to another level. Not only did we see which chemicals were the most effective, but Paul provided us with the cost per pot. Cost Accounting Strides A year later, Paul embarked on one of his most ambitious projects: developing a cost accounting model that actually worked. Paul and I worked closely together for the past four years and have developed a model that accounts for many of the variables that previous models did not. This […]

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December 9, 2011

5 Tech Tips For Post-Production Plant Quality

1 Choose The Right Varieties Properly selected varieties grown in similar greenhouse environments limit the need to adjust cultural conditions and will reduce the risk of leggy plants, disease, insect pressure and irregular flowering. 2 Grow In The Right Conditions Reducing light levels to 250 to 700 foot-candles can lower air temperature and water usage. Reducing temperatures by 5 to 8°F slows growth and flowering, enhances tissue color and brightens petals. Additionally, proper ventilation and space prevent disease and air-pollutants. 3 Listen To Experts Adhere to production guidelines from breeders, trial managers and technical service experts for each variety. It’s also important to apply plant growth retardants during production for stronger, greener and more compact plants, and reduced post-production water demand. 4 Manage Water Closely Reduced watering prevents internode elongation, undesirable stretch and root rots. Another good reminder is to select a rooting substrate with sufficient water-holding capacity and proper […]

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December 9, 2011

10 Perennials Driving Success Through Better Breeding

My mission at Terra Nova Nurseries is to cure the failures in plants with good breeding. The right cures make consumers successful and put smiles on the faces of growers and retailers. Here’s a look at 10 perennial genera that can help you bring the consumer success and a smile to your face. 1 Agastache. These are now beginning to fill a market niche once dominated by salvia. Agastaches are heavily reblooming plants with fragrant foliage and new, rich flower colors that provide a foil to echinacea and other perennials. They are inexpensive to growers because they can be provided as unrooted cuttings. 2 Echinacea. The wide range of colors in echinacea pleases the consumer, especially with the new, hot colors now available. The growers are receiving plants that are better branched with more shoots, thus increasing viability. 3 Gaillardia. Gaillardias suffer from falling open as the plant ages, making […]

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December 9, 2011

A Retail Perspective: 11 Ways Growers Can Help Us

As the green goods merchandise managers at Swansons Nursery in Seattle, Wash., Alex LaVilla, Liane Smith and Gabriel Maki  share their perspective on ways growers can improve their relationships with retailers. 1 Use available technologies for better consistency and accuracy in ordering and billing. The days of handwritten invoices are over! We need to be able to order, receive acknowledgements very quickly and receive the order in a few days. 2 Be interested in our specific market and how you can be successful partners in serving that market with us. Many growers do not know their own market share and are not knowledgeable of what other growers are offering. Often times, they are all offering the same plants and the only variation from one grower to another is quality, size or price point. The “branded” market is getting so homogenous that it is harder and harder to stand out. The […]

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December 9, 2011

3 Ways To Make Commodities Premium Items

Marc Clark, executive vice president of Rocket Farms in Salinas, Calif., offers advice to add value to your product: 1 Reposition existing plants. Bring outdoor plants inside with smaller, more compact varieties like sunflowers and coleus. Repackage them in ceramic pots or baskets. Most consumers won’t care that a sunflower is typically planted outdoors. If it’s packaged properly, consumers will accept it as a new product. Remember: Water used to come from drinking fountains; now we pay more than $1 for a plastic bottle full of it. This was unthinkable just a few decades ago. 2 Take advantage of containers and packaging. Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but ordinary commodity plants can become extraordinary with clever use of containers and packaging, including racks and shelf talkers. Ball Horticultural Co.’s seed and vegetative catalog is full of hundreds of varieties of inexpensive commodity items that can be potted up into decorative […]

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December 9, 2011

5 Takeaways To Re-energize Your Business

1 Cultivate New Customers By Examining Other Industries Tom Smith, the president of Top 100 Grower Four Star Greenhouse and a partner in Proven Winners, is adamant about greenhouse floriculture doing a better job of driving consumer success (page 16). But he’s also a proponent of cultivating new customers by looking for answers outside our industry. “We need to follow what every other industry has had success with,” Smith says, “We need to look at grocery, clothes, hobby, decorating–they all have looks in their stores and environments that make it very favorable to shop. More favorable than garden centers that merchandise their products from A to Z.” 2Drive Consumer Success By Categorizing Consumers Top 100 Grower Metrolina Greenhouses has broken consumers down into two categories: decorators and diggers. “We definitely see those two trends continuing, so we’re developing products and lines to accommodate both groups,” says Mariah Holland, Metrolina’s marketing […]

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December 9, 2011

Rolling Carts, Weekend Deliveries Are Musts

Growers need to continue to improve on efficiencies that will have a mutual benefit to both the retailer and the grower. Some of these efficiencies include: - Delivering product on rolling carts to help save time unloading. - Bar coding product by color and variety. This can help both the retailer and the grower gather more information and make more informed decisions. - Making weekend deliveries. This is especially important during the peak season. Weekend deliveries help growers because automobile traffic is lighter on the weekends. So growers can spend more time delivering and less time in traffic. We have a close relationship with our principle growers. We believe it’s very important to be partners with our best growers. They know we expect the highest quality product at a fair price. We work together to offer promotional items, and our best vendors help us keep in stock by offering us […]

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