June 12, 2012

Update: Seed Holdings Acquires Ferry-Morse Seed Company And Shuts Down Operations

U.S.-based Ferry-Morse Seed Company and Canada-based A.E. McKenzie from Jiffy International AS on May 18, 2012. According to Lauren Pratt, office manager for Plantation Products, Ferry-Morse products will be sold under the same name and to the same clients, provided those clients would like to continue doing business with the new company. Immediately after the company was sold, nearly 200 employees from the Ferry-Morse plant in Fulton, Ky., were laid off. A distribution center in Fremont, Ind., closed and one in White City, Ore., will close at the end of the year. The company still has staff in Kentucky helping to produce the Ferry-Morse products and approximately 100 employees will stay to help the company transition through the end of the year, Pratt says. Seed Holdings owns the following home-and-garden brands: NK Lawn & Garden American Seeds Fredonia Plantation Products With the new acquisition, the company will now also produce […]

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June 5, 2012

Visa Fee Increases For H-2B Workers

Effective April 13, 2012, the Department of State increased visa processing fees. The rate for petition-based visas (including H visas) changed from $150 to $190 per applicant. This change resulted from an interim final rule. The fees for most nonimmigrant visa applications and Border Crossing Cards increased, while all immigrant visa processing fees decreased.   Although the fees went into effect, the State Department allowed for an open comment period. The American Hotel & Lodging Association, the American Nursery & Landscape Association and the Professional Landcare Network, along with organizations from various industries, have submitted their comments to the Department of Labor regarding the effect of these increases. The following letter, dated May 29, 2012, illustrates the objections these organizations have to the fee increases: To Whom It May Concern: Thank you for providing the H-2B Workforce Coalition the opportunity to comment on 22 CFR Parts 22 and 42, Schedule of Fees […]

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May 15, 2012

April Garden Sales Mixed

Following a March that broke sales records for much of the garden retail industry, April sales are proving to be more mixed. Spring broke early for much of the country in March, whereas April was more typical, with varied weather patterns. In those areas with mostly good weather, April continued the strong sales trend. “April 2012 is up about 40 percent over 2011 due to the warmer weather and some aggressive marketing we did in March,” says Weston Nurseries’ Peter Mezitt. Weston Nurseries is located in Hopkinton, Mass. “It is right up there with our best April ever.” Likewise, Ken Lain, owner of Watters Garden Center in Prescott, Ariz., saw a strong April. His sales were up 8 percent from 2011 sales, and close to his strongest April ever – 2006. “Numbers are still out,” Lain says, “but we may have set an April profit record. We definitely hit our […]

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May 2, 2012

Judge Issues Injunction, Blocks H-2B Rules

On April 26, a federal judge in northern Florida issued a preliminary injunction blocking the United States Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing a new rule that would have fundamentally altered the H-2B temporary and seasonal worker program. This program is used by many nursery and landscape industry employers to fill seasonal labor positions when too few American workers apply for these jobs.  Judge Rodgers’ preliminary injunction prevents DOL from implementing the H-2B program rewrite, which was set to take effect on April 27.  While the ruling was in Florida, the decision applies nationwide.  The ruling will also impact DOL’s plans to implement the wage rule on October 1 and is considered to be a huge victory for the entire vertically integrated green industry. The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA), a Washington, D.C.-based trade association that represents green industry workers, and many state nursery and landscape associations have provided […]

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May 2, 2012

Dümmen USA Announces New West Coast Rooting Station

Dümmen USA has announced Plug Connection will be its newest West Coast Rooting Station for Red Fox plants. Located in Vista, Calif., Plug Connection joins Bob’s Market and Greenhouses, CF Greenhouses, Genesis Plant Propagation Ltd., Harts Nursery, Plainview Growers and Timbuk Farms in producing Red Fox genetics in North America. Plug Connection has worked with Dümmen for years and has been a Root and Sell station for Dümmen poinsettias since 2008. It was through this relationship that Plug Connection approached the breeder about additional partnership opportunities in fall of 2011. “After an initial conversation both teams agreed it was a great fit to move forward with Plug Connection as a new rooting station for Red Fox,” says Plug Connection’s sales and marketing director Nicole Jackson. “We believe there is significant demand to expand our vegetative program with our traditional customers for Red Fox genetics as a rooted liner. Currently, both […]

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April 17, 2012

Store Displays, Customer Service & Pricing In Southern Florida Retailer Locations

The temperatures were ideal with days in the high-70s and nights in the mid-60s, but there was some intermittent rainfall.  The stores were jammed with product. April 7 was a strong retail day with good, but not overwhelming, consumer traffic. Flamingo Road Nursery Davis, Fla., however, had so many cars it took me 15 minutes to finds a parking spot. It was by far the busiest garden center of the more than 30 visited. The tables in most garden centers were still fairly full, possibly with the exception of hanging baskets where we saw a lot of empty basket lines.  It seemed to me that traditional bedding plants were not that strong, especially seed grown basic annuals, and that many shopping carts had more of the premium items along with landscape foliage plants. The vegetable displays were not as busy as one would expect this time of year, and it […]

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April 11, 2012

A New Editor For Greenhouse Grower

Spring has sprung early throughout much of the country this year. The warm, sunny weather has customers streaming into neighborhood retailers, hungry for plants and anxious to get out into the garden. Signs are pointing to a very good 2012 for greenhouse growers. As I write this, we’re just back from a week at California Spring Trials, where the mood was also enthusiastic. After a rough couple of cold, rainy springs, everyone seems energized, excited, and ready for a fresh start.  And we have another reason to feel energized and excited here at the magazine.I’m pleased to introduce Robin Siktberg to you as the new Editor of Greenhouse Grower. Robin joins us well-prepared for the job with an impressive background in horticulture. She’s a graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Agricultural Communications with an emphasis in horticulture. Her career prior to joining us here at Greenhouse […]

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February 29, 2012

Why OFA Is Adapting – And Why Your Business Should Too

If you Google the expression “adapt or die,” you find thousands of references to books, whitepapers, newspaper articles, speeches and journal articles confirming the need to change. “Adapt or die” is not a creative phrase, but it’s certainly clear: Like death and taxes, we seem to have no alternative. The need to transform is not unique to horticulture. All industries have experienced pain over the last few years and still today. Businesses are struggling, consumers are just starting to gain some financial ground, and we know it’s going to be a few more years before the global economy is back to normal– whatever “normal” means. In the meantime, we cannot sit back and wait for change to come to us. OFA is certainly not going to relax and hope for the best. As we announced two years ago, OFA’s strategic plan includes an objective to expand our relationships with other […]

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January 25, 2012

The New USDA Zone Map: Why And What Opportunity It Offers Plant Retailers

The USDA has released an updated version of the Plant Hardiness Zone map, shifting many zones one half zone warmer than the previous version of the map, released in 1990. This new edition of the map is based on weather data over a 30 year period, from 1976 to 2005. So why the changes? The 1990 map used temperature as the basis for mapping the zones, whereas this version of the map uses data like elevation, slope, wind and proximity to water to determine zone. The new map also uses data from more weather stations than the 1990 map did. “The USDA was very careful to downplay that this has anything to do with global warming, and I was happy to hear that, because to me it’s comparing apples to oranges,” says Cornell’s Bill Miller. “The mathematical models are different. The ability to handle the data is different. I don’t […]

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January 20, 2012

The Home Depot Acquires Redbeacon

The Home Depot has acquired Redbeacon, an online home services platform connecting consumers with contractors for their home maintenance, repair and remodeling needs. Currently, users request a service on the Redbeacon website, such as house cleaning and home repairs, and the site matches the request with a service provider in the customer’s area. Quotes are sent to the user, and appointments for the service are booked through the Redbeacon site. The site and service were launched in 2009 at the TechCrunch 50 Conference. “One of the things that sets Redbeacon apart is the sophisticated algorithms we’ve developed to match consumers’ service needs to local providers who are best qualified for the job,” says Aaron Lee, Cofounder and Software Engineering lead at Redbeacon. The site began serving the San Francisco Bay area at launch, and then expanded into Seattle/Tacoma in September 2010, Washington D.C. in early 2011 and San Francisco, Seattle, […]

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January 19, 2012

Overcoming Spring Freight Challenges

Here we are again, with spring upon us as well as the worst freight market in modern history. What do I mean by “worst in modern history?” In the trucking and logistics world that I live in, we are experiencing the toughest capacity crunch in more than 50 years. It is a perfect storm of driver demographics, government regulations, lack of financing and shippers willing to pay top dollar to move their freight. Let me explain. Driver DemographicsDrivers are leaving the workforce faster than ever before. Many trucking companies are paying sign-on bonuses of up to $10,000 for drivers to change companies rather than allowing the truck and trailer to sit idle. Unused vehicles cost the trucking company money. As a whole, our workforce is getting older, and the drivers aren’t necessarily the youngest (nor the fittest) bunch. Moreover, strict immigration laws and government regulations have virtually stopped foreign drivers […]

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January 17, 2012

Evonik Names John Wynne Business Development Manager – Horticulture

Creasorb, a business under Evonik Industries, a Germany-based creative industrial group, is pleased to announce the appointment of John Wynne as Business Development Manager – Horticulture. In this capacity, he is responsible for developing sales of Stockosorb, a superabsorbent soil conditioner, to the horticultural, turf and ornamental markets in the NAFTA region. “John’s strong background in developing business and sales opportunities in green industry markets will be a great asset to our efforts in the NAFTA region,” says Bobby Mitra, Business Director Creasorb Wynne brings 12 years of industry experience, developing business relationships and sales both locally and nationally in the golf, lawn care and greenhouse businesses. Most recently, he was Territory Sales Manager for Agrium Advanced Technologies in Loveland, Colo., where he developed new business in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts.

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