Sheridan Nurseries’ John McLaren Shares Advice For Commercial Growers

Sheridan Nurseries’ John McLaren and his award for being a finalist for Head Grower of the Year

Keeping informed is imperative to staying on the cutting edge in a competitive and ever-changing marketplace. In the greenhouse industry, there are constant innovations in production techniques, cultural practices and plant introductions, as well as improved technologies. These advancements can help any grower, from the most basic of operations to leaders of the industry. It is critical to understand the importance of how we gather and process this information to benefit and grow our businesses.

First, it is imperative to know what you are after. There are a number of outlets for gathering and sharing information. You can choose from publications, magazines, industry associations, professional organizations, trade shows and the list goes on. Understanding what you want to improve and targeting the appropriate source can save you time and money. Ensuring this information is handled properly is the next step to gaining the maximum value from the time and money spent to find it.

Utilize Partnerships

Sheridan Nurseries has partnered with a local university to conduct studies that are published and presented at trade shows. We are currently working on a study focusing on the effective and efficient use of controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs) in containerized crops. We use a significant amount of CRFs in containerized tree, shrub and perennial crops. When this study is completed, we will have the valuable information required to maximize our fertilizer inputs and minimize waste. We have also conducted studies to identify the best management practices for controlling diseases of plants that comprise a major portion of our business.

Suppliers are a great resource for growers. A good supplier understands that the success of their customer directly affects their success. Our suppliers invest significant time and money researching and developing their own products to ensure they are the best in the business. We can use this information to increase our yields and stay competitive in the marketplace.

Grow Your Business

The number of new plants introduced each year is staggering. Deciding which varieties will perform best for you is a challenge. Collecting the information required to make the decision about which plants will perform for you and your market can dramatically reduce wasted time and resources. Visiting trial gardens, attending trade shows and conferences and consulting with suppliers can help pin-point the best candidates.

Sheridan Nurseries is proud to be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year. We have worked closely with our plant suppliers to develop six new and exciting plant varieties. Tulipa ‘Sheridan Sunburst,’ Hosta ‘Flash Forward,’ Heuchera ‘Tropical Burst,’ Rosa ‘Sheridan’s Anniversary Blush,’ Syringa ‘Purple Be Dazzled’ and Physocarpus ‘Mahogany Magic‘ will be brand new to the industry next year, and we hope to create a buzz in the marketplace. The relationships we have developed over the years with our suppliers allow us to be involved with these initiatives.

These collaborative efforts are great examples of the ways growers can utilize information sources to improve their plant quality, yield and, ultimately, their bottom lines. Identifying your goals and needs before heading out to gather information on new ideas is a wise philosophy that can keep your company profitable and successful.

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