Bring On Spring

Bring On Spring

Planning for spring is like placing a bet: If you do your homework thoroughly and manage the factors you can control, you increase your odds for success. If you prepare inadequately, conjure guesses or simply wing a production plan entering spring, you’re bound to fail.

And then there’s the biggest grower gamble of all: hoping for good spring weather. According to the results of Greenhouse Grower’s recent Industry Pulse Survey, 70 percent of growers say weather is the most important factor in determining their success this spring–even with a down economy like ours.

“The key is weather. It always has been and always will be,” says Abe Van Wingerden, president of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C. “Many other factors come into play, but they are mainly controllable or manageable. Weather is something we just hope works in our favor. Eight straight sunny weekends equals success for everyone. Eight straight rainy weekends, and only the strongest survive.”

Changing Up

Although the majority of survey respondents believe their success again hinges on the weather, their preparations were anything but a repeat of last year’s. Nearly 40 percent of growers report hiring fewer employees, and 75 percent report changing the number of crops and varieties grown.

The majority of respondents (44 percent) report growing more of some varieties and less of others, while 32 percent report they’re strictly growing more varieties. Perhaps those growers see opportunity in areas where others are pulling back.

“Difficult times often present opportunities,” says Erik Jacobsen, owner of Parkway Gardens, a grower/retailer in Ontario, Canada. “We intend to market to the mood of the times, emphasizing do-it-yourself, increased real estate value and healthy lifestyles. We’re also keeping in mind that while unemployment is more than 7 percent, that figure is only 1 percent more than a year ago and 93 percent of people still have as much disposable income as ever.”

Wholesale grower Jim Clesen, vice president of Ron Clesen’s Ornamental Plants Inc. in Maple Park, Ill., is also optimistic about spring. He sees opportunity like many other growers, but seizing the opportunities available requires a different approach than past years.

“What worked yesterday won’t necessarily work today,” Clesen says. “Adjust your procedures, not your goals. Make better business decisions. Reduce speculation. Lower the amount of an item on your benches. Create your own co-op of other growers/suppliers for when product is in short supply. Give your customers added value and remind them why they’re doing business with you.

“We’ve all learned this before. Now is the time to implement and remain positive.”

New Opportunities

Many growers are indeed thinking positively, but they’re being cautious at the same time. Twenty-five percent of survey respondents report growing more crops later this year, and several growers wrote to us about the potential of vegetables specifically. Those who already grow them are considering growing more, and those who don’t are at least aware of a potential mass movement toward herbs and veggies.

Still, it’s important to distinguish trends from fads. A grower’s take on a crop taking off is one thing. Now, let’s see how consumers react to vegetables and other trendy crops.

“There is no longer business as usual,” says grower/retailer Mark Landa, owner of Boulevard Flower Gardens in Colonial Heights, Va. You can no longer just grow a few plants, sell them and survive. You have to do your homework the best you can and now market so the customer wants to buy. They must feel good about what they’re doing.”

Many survey respondents see opportunities for growth with customers, as well. Fifty-nine percent of respondents indicate they serve independent garden centers, and 46 percent say they see opportunity for growth with them. Thirty-four percent of growers see potential for growth within their own retail shops, an area which they obviously can control, and 28 percent think farmer’s markets have potential to take off.

Respondents also see opportunities with other growers (22 percent), eCommerce sites (11 percent), mass merchandisers (8 percent) and home improvement chains (8 percent). Several respondents even wrote in “landscapers” as customers to pursue. Karen Ross, a Canadian grower/retailer at Valleyview Gardens, built much of her business up over the last two years because of landscapers.

“We have seen increases in the number of outdoor landscape customers the last couple of years and expect this to continue,” she says. “The reason for this is the quality of our product, as well as the level of service which we provide. Our existing customers give us great references, and our prices are not low. A bedding plant flat of 48 impatiens, for example, is $10.80 Canadian wholesale while our competitors are between $7 and $9.”

Conclusions

How will you fare this spring? We’ll soon find out, but good weather is a must. A vastly improved economy would be nice, too, but many survey respondents are confident their products will sell if the sun makes enough spring appearances.
Many growers cut back production based on uncertain market conditions. Maybe that approach will be the right one for this year. Most growers are hoping otherwise, and those who’ve increased production are ready to pounce on additional sales should a few windows open.

“As always, we’re farmers (figuratively), and everything depends on a few sunny weekends in spring for our customers to do well,” says Dan Heims, president of Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon.

Leave a Reply

More From State of the Industry...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

February 2, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 State Of The In…

The Greenhouse Grower 2015 State Of The Industry Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, including comparisons on 2014 sales to past years, details on how 2015 production volume and prices will compare to 2014, crops that growers will increase and decrease production on, where growers stand on using neonicotinoids on crops, how many growers will pursue growing medical marijuana and more.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Benchmarks: Let’s Change Our Story

It's a new year. Time for our industry to change how consumers perceive plants by creating a new reality where plants are valued for more than their physical beauty.

Read More

January 21, 2015

AFE Wins Platinum MarCom Award For “Murder, Sex a…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) took home its fourth award for the animated awareness video "Murder, Sex and Greed." The organization also recently announced that there are two new members on its board of trustees.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 19, 2015

2015 State Of The Industry: Current Green Industry Tren…

Demand for green industry products and services is forecasted to increase in coming years as the housing market rebounds.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Terra Nigra Joins DNA Green Group

DNA Green Group will be expanding its range of cut flowers by incorporating Terra Nigra, a company specializing in breeding and propagation of gerberas and roses.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Florensis Receives Horticultural Entrepreneur Award

During the January 7, 2015 award ceremony in the Keukenhof, in Lisse, Netherlands, Florensis received the Horticultural Entrepreneur Award. Florensis was one of four nominated companies, which also included Arcadia BV, Artemis and Martens Asperges.

Read More
AmericanHort

January 9, 2015

AmericanHort Celebrates Its First Birthday

AmericanHort was formally launched one year ago on January 1, 2014, and the association is celebrating numerous successes of the first year.

Read More
Carol Miller

January 7, 2015

We’re All In This Together

Growers and retailers have a common goal — to serve customers better. In this new column, Greenhouse Grower will take a look at ways growers and retailers can work together to take advantage of profit opportunities and better meet customer needs.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Industry Speaks Out Against “Waters Of The U.S.” Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule change to the Clean Water Act, known as “waters of the U.S.,” has the potential to disrupt normal business practices for growers across the country.

Read More

January 7, 2015

Students Tackle Real-Life Challenges At National FFA Fl…

Top prize winners put skills learned in the classroom to the test at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Floriculture Career Development Event.

Read More
Lesley Judd

January 7, 2015

2014 Meister Scholarship Awarded To Ph.D Student

The Richard T. Meister Scholarship was awarded to Lesley Judd, a graduate student with a passion for horticulture and a desire to pass her knowledge along through teaching.

Read More

January 6, 2015

39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium Will Be Febr…

The Professional Gardener Alumni Association (PGAA) will hold the 39th Annual Today’s Horticulture Symposium program will be on February 6, 2015 from 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. in the Ballroom at Longwood Gardens, and will feature an array of engaging speakers.

Read More
Shawn McBurney

January 6, 2015

Society Of American Florists Hires New Lobbyist

Shawn McBurney joined the Society of American Florists' (SAF) staff starting January 5 as the new senior director of government relations.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Optimistic For A Strong Year In 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s State Of The Industry survey reveals that growers are being cautious about the inputs they use, and they’re worried about input costs and regulation, but enthusiastic about the rebounding economy.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

The 2015 State Of The Greenhouse Industry: Numbers At A…

Greenhouse Grower's 2015 State Of The Industry Survey shows some promising trends for the new year. Here's a look at the greenhouse market for 2015.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

January 5, 2015

Suppliers Will Increase Prices, Grower Education For 20…

Vendors' expectations are high for 2015, according to their responses on Greenhouse Grower's 2015 State Of The Industry Survey.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

December 31, 2014

2015 State Of The Industry: Major Changes In Washington…

Immigration, tax and regulatory reforms are a few important issues to watch in 2015. Still, the horticulture industry is on the threshold of change and has reason to be optimistic.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

December 31, 2014

2015 State Of The Industry: 2015 Brings More Debate On …

Pollinator health dominated regulatory discussions in 2014 and will continue to do so in 2015. Expect to see another busy year of regulatory changes and research.

Read More