Planning For Greenhouse Production

Dennis Crum, Director of Growing, Four Star Greenhouse, Inc.

by DENNIS CRUM

EACH year, growers devote more time and focus toward planning the next spring’s production. Businesses are under pressure to reduce shrink, increase sales and margins and satisfy market demands more than ever before.
Because production planning is so critical to an operation’s profitability, growers should consider these factors for success.

1. Sell-Through
Detailed records of the amount started versus the sold history for each line item should be kept and analyzed. Sales history by container size and type is helpful, but detailed records for each individual item is best. These records will better show the under- and over-performing items.

2. Timing Of Sales
Tracking the sales of specific items is important, but it is equally important is to analyze the timing of these sales. Knowing which items sold out very quickly in relationship to their scheduled finish date is very helpful information. This data should be compared to other items that sold through well, over an extended period of time. Growers can use this information to plan for additional production of the one crop and possibly reduced levels of the other. Sell-through is crucial, but crop turns are critical.

3. Good Crop Notes
Be sure to walk the crops at various stages of the growing schedule and shipping. Take good notes on what looked good, what didn’t and what adjustments were made and planned for the future. There can easily be a short list of items recommended for dropping from the program due to poor performance. At certain times, there may also be crops that grow and finish very nicely, but just don’t sell through at retail. Remember, looking solely at sell-through numbers and not at the crops doesn’t paint the complete picture. It only shows a portion of the situation.

4. Customer Feedback
Discuss the crops produced with your sales staff, merchandisers, retailers and consumers, if possible. Sales numbers do show what they liked and were willing to purchase. However, we should also be asking what they liked about the crops, why they purchased, and why they didn’t purchase other items. It’s much easier to sell the consumer what they are looking for than to continually try to anticipate or create new demands.

5. New Varieties
It’s important to gather and evaluate information on new varieties each year. There are too many new plants introduced each year to simply grow a few of each. Attend trade shows, read catalogs, talk to salesman, visit trial gardens and grow some trials of your own. Based on observations and discussions with your staff and customers, select varieties that not only fit into your greenhouse production plan but also serve the needs of your customers.

6. Profitability
After reviewing the factors already discussed, growers must also address the profitability of all crops grown. Again, if good sales records and accounting practices are followed, growers should have information available to measure the profitability of each crop, determine a pricing strategy, and decide whether or not the crop should be grown. Remember, input costs are only one factor when determining profitability. Growers should not blindly allow input costs to influence crop selection or planning.

Other Key Considerations For Successful Planning
• Select container size and type. Based on sales records, profitability and customer feedback, offer a selection of container sizes that meet the demands and perceived value of your customer. As with plant varieties, there are countless container types and styles in each size available. Select the container style and color best suited to meet the need of the customer. When selecting containers, their cost and effect on profitability must also be considered.
• Combination planning. The production of combination containers has become a huge portion of growers’ production planning and requires great care and attention to detail. Good growing notes from the previous season, sell-through information, customer feedback, new varieties and trialing of new combinations all need to be considered. Plan a good mix of combinations to satisfy customers’ needs. These combinations should also be selected to grow well together and perform well for the consumer.
• Plan the growing environment. While developing a production plan, it is very helpful to plan the space required for each crop. This thoughtful foresight often provides the best growing environment for each crop.
• Plan production numbers to best use the plants ordered. When planning production numbers, most growers account for the amount of space available and for the number of containers wanted. These numbers are often in multiples of 10, 25, 50 or 100. If not already doing so, try planning production numbers to use full liner trays. It’s amazing how many partial trays can be avoided if this idea is used.
On many grower visits, I have seen a 10 to 15 percent overage of seedlings or rooted cuttings. Another option would be to calculate in advance any amount of expected overage and have a plan in place for their use. This could involve planting additional containers (of the same or different size), additional combinations or save to use towards the next week’s plantings. How the additional plants are to be used is important to both profitability and labor efficiency.

Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail
Consider using these factors as a guideline when preparing for upcoming production planning. Hopefully, growers can create a production plan that meets customer needs, and does so with increased profits and with less guesswork and stress.GG

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Trays move on an overhead conveyor to the end of the production line, where workers carefully pack the cleaned, sized, graded, counted and sorted Calla tubers

November 29, 2016

Texas Judge Halts Overtime Rule; Here’s What It Means For Greenhouse Growers

According to Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort, the injunction against the overtime rule is welcome news for horticulture.

Read More
griffin-andrea-nelson-and-bill-watson

November 22, 2016

Griffin Adds Two Industry Veterans To Its Sales Team

Bill Watson and Andrea Nelson, the newest members of Griffin, answer questions about the state of the horticulture industry, and their role in moving it forward.

Read More

November 21, 2016

How Building New Markets Can Reduce Dependency On Your Current Business [Opinion]

Greenhouse Grower Editor Laura Drotleff says a smart and sustainable business goes beyond boundaries to create more demand outside of traditional channels.

Read More
Latest Stories
Trays move on an overhead conveyor to the end of the production line, where workers carefully pack the cleaned, sized, graded, counted and sorted Calla tubers

November 29, 2016

Texas Judge Halts Overtime Rule; Here’s What It Means F…

According to Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort, the injunction against the overtime rule is welcome news for horticulture.

Read More
griffin-andrea-nelson-and-bill-watson

November 22, 2016

Griffin Adds Two Industry Veterans To Its Sales Team

Bill Watson and Andrea Nelson, the newest members of Griffin, answer questions about the state of the horticulture industry, and their role in moving it forward.

Read More

November 21, 2016

How Building New Markets Can Reduce Dependency On Your …

Greenhouse Grower Editor Laura Drotleff says a smart and sustainable business goes beyond boundaries to create more demand outside of traditional channels.

Read More
griffin-expo

November 11, 2016

Griffin Announces Dates For Its 2017 Grower & Retai…

The events will take place Aug. 23-24 in Massachusetts, and Sept. 27-28 in Pennsylvania.

Read More

November 8, 2016

AmericanHort Hosting Lean Flow-Focused Webinar On Novem…

The webinar is the first in a series that will cover how Lean Flow affects your marketing, your customers, and your product offerings.

Read More
oregon-lean-flow

November 8, 2016

Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium Welcomes New Grower Memb…

The Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium, which helps the horticulture industry learn and apply Lean principles, is inviting greenhouse and nursery growers — and their suppliers — to join its 2017 program.

Read More
Great Lakes Expo

November 7, 2016

Greenhouse Growers Expo Will Focus On Improving Plant Q…

Sessions at the Greenhouse Growers Expo, which takes place in Grand Rapids, MI, in December, will focus on maintaining and increasing plant quality through successful rooting of cuttings, disease and pest management, and plant disorder diagnostics.

Read More
hoffman-nursery-owners

November 7, 2016

Hoffman Nursery Embarks On New Opportunities In Green I…

Thirty years ago, John and Jill Hoffman set off on an epic adventure to grow ornamental grasses. Today, Hoffman Nursery continues to evolve, and through its leadership, the operation is helping to secure a position for horticulture on one of the next great frontiers — green infrastructure.

Read More
urban-crops-pieter-de-smedt-and-maarten-vandecruys

November 3, 2016

Belgium-Based Vertical Farming Specialist Urban Crops O…

The opening of the new office in Miami, FL, is part of a continued expansion plan for the company, which creates tailored growth structures that are turnkey, automated, robotized, and able to be integrated into existing production facilities.

Read More
giving-tuesday

November 3, 2016

American Floral Endowment Once Again Joins Giving Tuesd…

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, floral industry supporters are encouraged to make a tax-deductible, year-end donation to AFE to help it continue providing benefits for all segments of the industry.

Read More
americanhort-plug-and-cutting-conference-2016

November 1, 2016

AmericanHort’s Plug And Cutting Conference Tackles Bioc…

The event included a grower tour, biocontrols workshop, and educational sessions focused on water management, labor, pest and disease control, and smart production strategies for great plug quality.

Read More
2015 GROW Summit_discussion shot

October 28, 2016

How We Can Inspire Millennials To Get Involved In Horti…

By uniting our efforts, we can attract new generations of growers and consumers to the horticulture industry, starting when they are young.

Read More
americann-cannabis-facility-in-massachusetts

October 27, 2016

Large Cannabis Greenhouse On The Horizon In Massachuset…

A Colorado company is preparing to build the largest marijuana greenhouse in Massachusetts, a sprawling, high-tech complex that could eventually expand to nearly 1 million square feet, depending on whether voters in the state approve the sale of marijuana for recreational use in November.

Read More
The tradeshow at the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo — outside of the occasional 1960s vibe, perhaps — would feel familiar to most growers

October 26, 2016

Las Vegas Will Host Two Premier Cannabis Events In Nove…

The Marijuana Business Conference And Expo and the World Of Cannabis Summit each take place in mid-November.

Read More
Cannabis Close Up

October 26, 2016

Cannabis Growers Try To Become More Sustainable

As cannabis production continues to increase in some areas, one question seems to be coming up more and more: What is the most sustainable way to grow cannabis?

Read More
american-floral-endowment-horticulture-careers-video

October 26, 2016

New American Floral Endowment Video Creates Awareness A…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has created a video to promote careers in floriculture and horticulture and to inform students about AFE scholarship and internship programs.

Read More
greenhouseconnect-2016-welcome-reception

October 25, 2016

Growers And Suppliers Discuss Long-Term Strategic Needs…

Greenhouse Grower’s annual event, held in Park City, UT, earlier this month, brought 19 growers together with 25 suppliers for two days of one-on-one discussions geared toward solving problems and generating new ideas.

Read More
young-professionals

October 25, 2016

AFE Develops Employer Resource Guide For Floral Interns…

The guide was created to help greenhouse and floral companies build a successful internship program, with easy-to-use guidelines and steps to create meaningful learning experiences for the next generation of business leaders.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]