Growing In Sync

Growing In Sync

If you really want to know what’s going on in the ever-changing floriculture market, there may be no better place to look than at the leading young plant growers. They are in a unique position because they are close to breeders, brokers and global distribution channels, as well as their finished grower customers. Many are diversified, growing finished plants wholesale and even retail for their own garden centers.

The way they respond to trends mirrors the marketplace, as they are the ones supplying most of the market. The rule of thumb seems to be that young plant growers only keep about 10 percent of their plug and liner production to grow on and finish themselves. Most of the millions of baby plants are headed to other greenhouses, by truck or by air, on carts or in boxes or new pallet shippers. (See “Pushing Pallets”)

Tracking Trends

Many of this year’s survey respondents reported a trend toward larger plug sizes for quicker turns and to fill out larger finished containers. “Growers are starting to realize the benefit of starting out with a larger plug: less heat, less loss, quicker turns and less chemicals,” says David Van Wingerden, whose family owns Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, Ohio.

Green Circle is absorbing its customers’ heating costs by investing in a wood-burning furnace that will keep its costs under control. While Green Circle heats its greenhouses cost-effectively, grower customers can fire up their own houses later with the larger plugs.

However, the shift to larger plugs does present production challenges for the young plant grower, because more space is needed to grow the same number of plugs, he adds.

Bobby Barnitz, whose family owns Bob’s Market & Greenhouses in Mason, W. Va., confirms the switch from 512s to the larger 288s. “In the year 2000, 512 plugs had 57 percent of production. Now it is 288s with 57 percent,” he says.

On the flip side, perennial propagator Northwest Horticulture of Mt. Vernon, Wash., has seen demand for smaller plugs, specifically its new 24-cell perennial. Yoder Brothers in Barberton, Ohio, also reports a shift to smaller liners and unrooted cuttings.

Overcoming Obstacles

The top challenges reported by this year’s respondents are:

– Managing growth

– Recruiting and retaining labor and higher quality personnel

– Transportation logistics and delivery costs

“We are not alone, but everyone struggles with delivery,” Van Wingerden says. “We have continued to implement Truckstops Software with quite a bit of success with more on-time delivery. The next step is GPS.”

Plainview Growers of Pompton Plains, N.J., is working on a combination of in-house and outsourced trucking to ensure short times in transit for live plants. Speedling Inc. in Sun City, Fla., is coping with delivery costs by offering expanded plant selection to fill trucks and condensing order ship weeks to distant geographical locations.

On the labor side, several respondents say they are implementing Lean manufacturing techniques and aggressively recruiting future employees. 

Forecasting Orders

One of the biggest challenges has been responding to later orders and commitments. Growers are producing more plants on speculation than they have in the past instead of turning business away.

“With the trend in later ordering, our organization has to be more flexible and be able to reorganize strategy in an instant,” says Susie Raker, whose family owns C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, Mich. “We’re also offering items on an at-once basis.”

Barnitz says he is contracting with other growers for finished plants so he can devote more space to plug and liner production.

Glass Corner Greenhouses has extended its order deadlines. Northwest Horticulture is preplanting for target accounts before commitments are made.

Paul Gaydos of GroLink in Oxnard, Calif., says, “With the rate of growth we are seeing, we are doing our best to plan and speculate what and when our customer needs will be. We will try to accommodate any request. We’re a small company and make all the decisions as a small group, so we can react quickly to customer requests. We callus cuttings, pre-pinch cuttings, add rooting hormone to cuttings and many other small details that help our customers succeed and make money.”

Leave a Reply

More From State of the Industry...
Pot Mum Combos (Syngenta Flowers)

February 8, 2016

Syngenta Has A New Buyer, Will Not Divest Flower Seeds Business

Syngenta has announced that it will likely approve an offer from ChemChina to acquire the company, which means it no longer plans to divest its flower seed business.

Read More
State of the industry 2016

January 21, 2016

Green Industry Is Set For Continued Growth In 2016

Economist Charlie Hall says the outlook for the green industry is promising despite the havoc wreaked on plant sales by the downturn in housing.

Read More
How will growers' production in 2016 compare to 2015

January 18, 2016

2016 State Of The Greenhouse Industry Numbers At A Glance

Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows some promising trends for the new year. Here’s a look at the greenhouse market for 2016, in graphics.     For a more in-depth analysis of where the industry stands, read Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry article, “Growers And Suppliers Move Forward With Cautious Optimism In 2016.”

Read More
Latest Stories
Pot Mum Combos (Syngenta Flowers)

February 8, 2016

Syngenta Has A New Buyer, Will Not Divest Flower Seeds …

Syngenta has announced that it will likely approve an offer from ChemChina to acquire the company, which means it no longer plans to divest its flower seed business.

Read More
State of the industry 2016

January 21, 2016

Green Industry Is Set For Continued Growth In 2016

Economist Charlie Hall says the outlook for the green industry is promising despite the havoc wreaked on plant sales by the downturn in housing.

Read More
How will growers' production in 2016 compare to 2015

January 18, 2016

2016 State Of The Greenhouse Industry Numbers At A Glan…

Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows some promising trends for the new year. Here’s a look at the greenhouse market for 2016, in graphics.     For a more in-depth analysis of where the industry stands, read Greenhouse Grower‘s 2016 State Of The Industry article, “Growers And Suppliers Move Forward With Cautious Optimism In 2016.”

Read More
Top Concerns sidebar

January 18, 2016

Growers And Suppliers Move Forward With Cautious Optimi…

A year of growth in 2015 also had its share of challenges, and as a result, growers and suppliers are a bit more guarded going into 2016. After a few years of extreme weather and drought, a massive ongoing labor shortage, a shaky economy, and increased government regulation, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey shows growers and retailers are moving forward with cautious optimism. Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey included separate questions for growers and for suppliers. Of our 358 respondents, 103 were suppliers, 111 were grower-retailers, 109 were wholesale growers, and 35 were young plant growers. Among growers, 57% indicated their operations were small (less than 100,000 square feet), 21% were medium-sized (100,000 to 399,999 square feet), and 22% said they were large growers (400,000 square feet or larger). Sixty-eight percent of the grower respondents said their sales grew in 2015 over 2014, down […]

Read More
State of the industry 2016

January 14, 2016

Craig Regelbrugge Says 2016 Will Be A Year Of Waiting F…

The 2016 presidential election will make for slow progress on critical regulatory issues like health care, pollinator health, and immigration reform.

Read More

December 29, 2015

The Home Depot Says No To Neonics

The Home Depot plans to phase out neonicotinoids by 2018, according to a recent statement on the company’s website. The large home improvement retailer stated that its live goods suppliers have reduced the number of plants that they treat with neonicotinoids, and now more than 80% of all flowering plants sold at The Home Depot are not treated with neonicotinoids. The retailer said it will continue this decrease unless: Treatment is required by state or federal regulation, or Undisputed science proves that the use of neonicotinoids on live goods does not have a lethal or sub-lethal effect on pollinators Aside from these exceptions, the retailer has implemented a complete phase-out of neonicotinoid use on live goods by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, The Home Depot has required all of its live goods suppliers to label plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids. “The Home Depot is deeply engaged in understanding the […]

Read More
Pollinator-Conference-NC State

December 9, 2015

Pollinator Gardens Are On The Rise, Provide Opportuniti…

Thanks to the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, enacted in June 2015 by the National Pollinator Garden Network, scores of new pollinator gardens to be planted over the next year and beyond will provide growers with ample opportunities to produce, promote and sell plants that are ideal for pollinator forage and health. And with research underway within the industry, we’ll soon have more knowledge about which plants are the most beneficial and attractive to pollinators. At Bayer’s Bee Care Center, the level of consumer engagement and interest in planting pollinator gardens is very high, Bayer’s Sarah Myers says. Bayer now has 73 local and industry partners and counting in its “Feed A Bee Campaign,” launched in March. Educating consumers about what they can plant to attract bees, and the impact they can have with even the smallest amount of space, is highly important, Myers says. It’s worth explaining to them that […]

Read More
foodscaping at epcot - Foodscaping Goes Big At Disney

December 9, 2015

Foodscaping Challenges Conventional Ideas About Landsca…

Conventional ideas about what a landscape should look like are being challenged left and right, from young homeowners like Sarah Baker of Baker’s Acres, who are standing up for their right not to mow their lawns, to Brie Arthur’s passion to start a movement to incorporate food with flowers throughout suburban and urban landscapes nationwide. As younger generations step up as consumers and industry leaders, these changes are likely to continue, and the horticulture industry, which has the most to gain, would be remiss not to embrace and influence them. Well known for her personal foodscape, which she has promoted across social media, and her annual tomato-tasting fundraising event benefiting the nearby J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, N.C., Brie Arthur has also been working with schools and her local Homeowner Association (HOA) to challenge the traditional idea of the landscape to one that incorporates the growing of food with mainstream, […]

Read More

November 20, 2015

Lessons Learned From The California Drought

For those of us who live in the areas of the country that experienced harsh winters and significant rain over the past three seasons, water has become a nuisance in some cases, rather than a blessing. I can’t count the number of times I have wished to be able to send the snow or the rain to the West Coast, tied up with a big red bow. But think about how we’d feel if we didn’t have the snow and the rain, and we were experiencing the same dry conditions that the residents of California, Oregon and Washington have. With fresh water supplies dwindling in regions of the world, and the resistance of residents in states like Michigan to share water from the Great Lakes, it’s likely that the next civil or world war could be fought over our most precious resource. California’s epic drought should cause everyone to look […]

Read More
Kate Santos Operations Director Dummen Orange

November 18, 2015

Kate Santos Presents New Opportunities For The Horticul…

Dr. Kate Santos is a scientist, an artist, an advocate, a traveler, a dreamer, a visionary and a go-getter. Well-known for her work managing Dümmen Orange as Operations Director, Santos has taken on a new role as co-founder of Luxflora, an organization for women in horticulture.

Read More
MPS Sustainable Quality Logo

November 17, 2015

International Seminar Finds Broad-Based Need For Indust…

Achieving durability and maximum transparency is the responsibility of the entire floriculture supply chain, was the main conclusion of the seminar “Shaping the Future of Floriculture,” which took place on Monday 9 November on the S.S. Rotterdam in The Netherlands. With just under 300 participants, the seminar, organized by Union Fleurs, VGB and MPS, received plenty of attention.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry

November 11, 2015

Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State of The In…

The State of the Industry report, which uses input from both growers and suppliers, is designed to help you understand this year's crop and sales trends, as well as the issues that keep you up at night.

Read More

November 11, 2015

Drought Has Triggered A New Normal For The California L…

California is now entering its fifth year of the worst drought in 500 years, with no end in sight. Weather experts predict the current drought will continue into 2016, despite optimistic projections of increased rain patterns this winter caused by a strong El Niño ocean current. Residents have fully bought in to the emergency, and embraced Governor Jerry Brown’s April 1 mandate to reduce water usage by 25 percent. Even after an above-average hot summer, the state has exceeded its goal, with a per-month average of 28 percent water reduction. Some of the ways homeowners are being encouraged to reduce their outdoor water use are concerning, but the good news is, drought-tolerant landscaping and awareness of water-wise gardening is on the rise. Cash For Grass Rebates Have Landowners Trading In Their Lawns When Governor Brown’s water reduction mandate was announced in April, consumer reaction was reflected in the sales at […]

Read More

November 3, 2015

Two Floral Industry Leaders Die

Katharyn Elizabeth “Betsy” Demaree, 77, of Syndicate Sales, Inc. passed away on October 26, and Yoshimi "Shimi" Shibata, 100, formerly president of Mt. Eden Floral Company, passed away on October 31.

Read More
Charlie Hall

October 26, 2015

Charlie Hall Says Landscaping Services Are Trending Up,…

Everyone listens to Dr. Charlie Hall, professor and Ellison Chair in International Horticulture, in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University. And at his Cultivate’15 session, “The Future Value of the Landscape Services Sector,” attendees hung on his every word. According to First Research, the output of the U.S. landscaping industry is forecasted to grow at a compounded rate of 4 percent through 2016, indicating steady growth in the long term. In the landscape sector, regional firms are rapidly scaling up to achieve the economies of scale necessary to compete with the very large firms. Here are some of the points Hall made at the session where he projected his near-term forecast for the landscape sector: With 1.1 million housing starts now, the net demand is 1.5 million, and economists project there will be 1.2 million by the end of the year. That means, construction is behind in […]

Read More
cannabis

October 23, 2015

Consider Your Options With Greenhouse Cannabis Producti…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Cannabis. But wait, there’s more! All jokes aside, Cannabis is certainly a crop that comes fraught with controversy. Over the past few months, while we have been learning and reporting about the federal legality issues, financial risks and considerations and even the work and expense that goes into the application process to obtain a license to produce this crop, we have tried to remain as objective as possible. We’re not advocating that you produce Cannabis, nor are we opposing your choice to consider this crop as a future direction for your operation. Our goal in publishing eNewsletters and the print report found in the pages of the October issue of Greenhouse Grower, is simply to inform you of what production of this crop would include, from the challenges and risks to the opportunities. And no matter how you feel about the issue, as a business […]

Read More

October 21, 2015

First-Ever National Pollinator Protection Conference Co…

At the first National Conference on Protecting Pollinators in Ornamental Landscapes, in Hendersonville, N.C., October 12-14, 2015, attendees heard all sides of the pollinator health issue, from preliminary research findings on the effects of pesticides on bees, to the importance of urban gardens to pollinators, to the reasons why any changes to the availability of certain pesticides on the market need to be based on sound science. Co-organized by Michigan State University Extension and North Carolina State Extension, and sponsored by Bayer CropScience, Valent, Syngenta, Biobest, the American Floral Endowment and the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association, the conference drew several attendees from several different areas of the horticulture industry, including Extension agents, growers, plant protection companies and more. The conference kicked off with opening keynote speaker David Goulson of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. It followed with a day and a half packed with sessions […]

Read More

October 6, 2015

NASA Scientists To Discuss Indoor Agriculture Innovatio…

The University of Arizona’s Controlled Environmental Agriculture Center (CEAC) will host Dr. Jacklyn Green, CEO and founder of Agate Biosciences, and Dr. Roger Kern, president and founder of Agate Biosciences: Science & Systems Engineering, on October 30, as part of its seminar series. Both Green and Kern are former NASA scientists and engineers, and they will discuss their continuing efforts to develop technology and seek innovations to address issues concerning urban indoor agriculture, with a potential for application on Mars. Through the creation of Agate Biosciences LLC, Kern and Green have turned their attention to earth-bound issues of food production, to provide advanced technologies for plant nutrition, biosecurity and the undertaking of scientifically based research in greenhouse design and controls systems, and in plant health under controlled environment agriculture. A recent NASA news release reports that the Mars Rover 2020 mission is planned to deliver an extensive array of instruments designed to explore the habitability […]

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