May 25, 2010

Perspective: Sakata’s Ron Cramer

With a 30-year tenure at Paul Ecke Ranch before directing Sakata’s marketing activities on the cuttings side, Ron Cramer offers a unique perspective in bringing innovative varieties to market globally. At Ecke Ranch, Cramer managed licensing activities in Europe and Asia, working directly with breeders like Sakata and Kientzler in vegetative annuals, while also managing poinsettia propagation licensing abroad. Sakata has a long history of introducing innovative genetics in both seed and cuttings. Noteworthy recent introductions include Profusion zinnias and Kong coleus from seed and SunPatiens and SuperCal petchoas from cuttings. GG: What is the role of the independent breeder in today’s globally more consolidated and vertically integrated marketplace? RC: While of course some independent breeders like Sakata have relatively broad assortments, they are able to devote more resources to creating totally new categories like xPetchoa (SuperCal and Calitunia) or SunPatiens since they do not have to use breeding resources […]

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May 21, 2010

View: Industry Power Shift Approaching

Growers proved they weren’t immune from change and accountability when retailers began putting downward pressure on them in the 1990s. Now, marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery says another power shift is coming, and it involves growers making suppliers just as accountable. Below is Jerry’s commentary: Our industry was in the era of “Grower In Charge” up until the 1990s. The retailers followed the growers during that era, and the growers made almost all of the decisions relative to green goods marketing at retail. Growers selected the sizes, the varieties, the packaging and in many cases dictated the seasonality. Of this was also the period where the supply was less than the demand and the hay days of industry growth, where it was not unusual for the wholesale value of bedding plants to increase 8-10 percent annually. In the early ’90s, as the national retailers were becoming the leaders in retailing green […]

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May 3, 2010

Mother’s Day Weekend Forecast

Mother’s Day is the second biggest holiday for consumer spending after the winter holidays, so it stands to reason weather plays a large factor in retail success. Planalytics, a company that looks at weather forecasts in retail terms, predicts the week leading up to Mother’s Day will include near seasonal temperatures throughout much of the United States and Canada. That means typical spring-like weather, and not the volatile conditions some areas have seen in the last few weeks. For the actual Mother’s Day weekend, the Northeast will trend back toward normal (versus near-record highs predicted for the weekend of April 30-May 2), so sales will remain similar to last year but trend down from the previous weekend, according to Planalytics. New England and Eastern Canada could be cooler than normal, and showers and thunderstorms could disrupt sales in the Central Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley. In the Southeast, warmer-than-typical temperatures […]

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April 28, 2010

Three Questions With … OFA CEO Michael Geary

Michael Geary began his tenure as OFA’s new CEO about two months ago. We caught up with Geary shortly after he started and asked him about his attraction to floriculture and his vision for OFA: GG: What attracted you to floriculture? MG: As a child, my father was a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Ph.D. in botany sciences. He had an opportunity early on, before I was even born, to work at a research station in Northern Rhodesia on the African continent. As a little kid, I have memories of going with him to the research station, and I was in the labs with him. I was measuring things and doing calculations. I would go out to the greenhouses and turn on the water. I never thought, at some point in my life, I would be working with it. Beyond that, my parents were big gardeners. We […]

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April 27, 2010

The Ash Cloud’s Grower Impact

The Icelandic volcano that erupted earlier this month, filling the atmosphere with ash, shut international flights down and prevented a number of exhibitors and attendees at this year’s California Spring Trials from flying home as they had originally planned. But as unfortunate as those major flight delays were, they weren’t the only consequence to impact those in the greenhouse floriculture industry internationally. According to Flowerweb, the international supply of flowers, particularly the supply of roses and summer flowers to FloraHolland in The Netherlands, was greatly slowed. The shipment delays resulted in price increases on crops like roses, gypsophila, carnations and goldenrods. Pricing for other products has been more stable in the aftermath of the ash cloud, and pricing for roses, gypsophila, carnations and goldenrods is gradually dropping as supply increases. Over the last week, 5 to 10 percent of the product at the FloraHolland Trade Fair was sourced outside The […]

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April 20, 2010

Privatizing The Pipeline

For nearly a century, flower growers have benefited from publicly funded research from USDA and the land-grant university system. As state and federal budgets tighten, these programs are often listed on the chopping block. In other countries the model has changed where there is no more public support for floriculture research. It is all privatized and supported by the floriculture industry. Leading faculty members have told me this could happen in the United States within the next 10 years. We’re also at a point where many iconic industry educators are ready to retire. Several who come to mind who are of retirement age include Terril Nell and Jim Barrett at the University of Florida, Paul Nelson at North Carolina State University and our own Allan Armitage at the University of Georgia. Floriculture positions that were filled in the 1970s and ’80s are disappearing through attrition. In my March column, I […]

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April 15, 2010

Perspective: Michael Geary, CEO of OFA

OFA’s search for a CEO ended at the start of this year when Michael Geary, an 18-year veteran of association management, was named to the position. Geary’s experience includes serving as executive director of the American Institute of Architecture Students and senior director for the National Association of Home Builders. Now, Geary is the newly minted leader of one of our industry’s premier organizations. He recently shared his vision for OFA and the industry with us. GG: When you were one of six finalists for the CEO position, one of your homework assignments was to address OFA’s strategic plan. Is there anything that was revealed in that process that excited you? What ideas did you share that support the vision for an association in our industry and OFA’s strategic plan? MG: The big push is thinking about the future and who will be in this industry. We aren’t doing enough […]

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April 7, 2010

A Look At The Global Supply Chain

California Spring Trials are the place to see breeder consolidation in action. Jerry Montgomery presents a critical assessment of the green goods supply chain in light of recent consolidation: According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, supply chain management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing, procurement, conversion and logistic management.  It also includes the crucial components of coordination and collaboration with channel partners which can be suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers and customers.  In essence, supply chain management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies. Consolidation has arguably impacted the supply chain particularly in the supply of seed and vegetative inputs.  There are fewer companies in the seed supply chain because of consolidation and fewer companies dominating in the vegetative segment.  A prime example is Syngenta acquisitions of Goldsmith Seeds, Yoder Mums, and Fischer, Syngenta from a niche player to a […]

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April 5, 2010

Jackson & Perkins, Park Seed File For Bankruptcy

The Geo. W. Park Seed Company, Park Seed Wholesale Company, and the Jackson & Perkins Company voluntarily filed Friday to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of South Carolina. Park Seed Company says customers should not be affected by the filing. Park Seed and Jackson & Perkins’ South Carolina-business office, garden Center, call center and websites are open and functioning normally. Shipping and receiving areas are continuing their daily operations, delivering products to gardeners around the country. “The horticulture industry is challenging and highly seasonal in the best of times,” says an unidentified company spokesperson. “As the general economic situation declined starting in 2008, demand for luxury, non-essential purchases dropped sharply. All of our brands experienced significant decreases in sales for core products, including roses, perennials and garden-inspired gifts. This created cash-flow issues that worsened with each passing season. “Despite deep […]

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March 30, 2010

What Will Spring Bring?

How will your greenhouse operation fare this spring? Only time will tell, but two factors in particular were weighing on the minds of growers leading into spring: the weather and the economy. In fact, 93 percent of the growers we surveyed listed the weather (66 percent) or the economy (27 percent) as the most important factor to their success this spring. Competition, energy costs and other factors are important, growers say, but spring success regularly comes down to rain or shine. “The past three springs we have not had very good weather and this has been a major factor in our performance, along with the economic situation and our traditional internal organization and marketing methods,” says a Southeastern grower-retailer. “Our economic outlook has improved, we’re due for a good spring weather wise and we are changing our approach to marketing to deal with the changes in communication and media.” The […]

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March 25, 2010

Syngenta & Costa Partner On Plugs

Costa Farms has launched a whole new division, Total Growth Solutions, to market and distribute plugs and other young plants through Syngenta Horticultural Services. Up until this point, Costa Farms has grown plugs and liners primarily for its own use. Grower customers started receiving sample plug trays in mid-February. We anticipate Costa’s entry will challenge other leading young plant producers in Florida, including Speedling, ForemostCo and Knox Nursery. Why did Costa choose Syngenta Horticultural Services (SHS) as a distribution partner? “We have a strong relationship with SHS and are pleased to be their new plug partner,” says Jose Smith, president of Costa Farms. “This alliance combined with our southern growing location is a recipe for top quality production for our customers. Bringing Total Growth Solutions’ plant production and distribution capabilities together with SHS’ integrated system of sales and service open up a wealth of business opportunities.” SHS Senior Business Manager Jeff Burkholder […]

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February 22, 2010

OFA Short Course Staying In Columbus

The OFA Short Course, one of the largest educational and trade show events in the United States for the horticulture industry, will remain in Columbus, Ohio, through 2016. The annual July event, held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, attracts more than 9,000 industry professionals from around the world to see what’s new, conduct business, learn new skills and network with peers. “As a result of OFA’s due diligence and research, it was evident Columbus remains the best option as the home of the organization’s signature event,” says Danny Takao, OFA president. The OFA Short Course moved back to Columbus in 1998 after several years in Cincinnati. OFA–an Association of Horticulture Professionals is a national organization of greenhouse and nursery growers, garden center operators, interior plantscapers, florists, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, educators and students. OFA’s mission is to support and advance professional horticulture. For more on OFA visit its website at […]

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