Metrolina’s Flower Trials Go The Extra Mile

Metrolina's Flower Trials Go The Extra Mile

Metrolina Greenhouses’ trial gardens began as a few planted beds along the driveway to Tom and Vickie Van Wingerden’s house. The gardens have grown to 4 acres with more than 2,600 items in the ground and 200 combination planters. Varieties are planted in rows by genus. They are assigned a number and are not identified by breeder in the beds.

“We send out requests for plants to more than 50 breeders and brokers every October,” says Metrolina’s Research and Development Director Mark Yelanich (pictured above), who manages the trials. “The main items we request are new items the breeding company is introducing. This year alone, we have about 700 items that are new for the season. For comparison, we include every item we currently produce.”

Retailers appreciate the trials, too. “We are constantly searching for ways to separate ourselves from the competition and to offer customers an exciting experience with new, as well as established, varieties that perform for them,” says Kevin Measel, Lowe’s vice president of merchandising. “We do have several trial gardens in key locations where we test new varieties in the landscape, in containers and baskets. We want to be sure the plant not only looks great but performs.”

Trials can be a great tool for developing programs. One year Metrolina planted 200 coleus varieties to choose the seven for the Colors of Coleus collection. This approach is being used for other crops. Now, instead of growing 140 varieties of pansies, Metrolina chooses the best of each color from a dozen series on the market. Metrolina also conducts extensive trials for garden mums, poinsettias, pansies and violas.

A big part of Yelanich’s job also is production trials in the greenhouse, determining the effects of fertilizer regimes, day length, plant growth regulators and chemical controls.

“This year alone, we have evaluated 5,000 different items through our testing program,” Yelanich says. “The products we sell must do well in the greenhouse, hold up in stores and perform for consumers. A trial garden allows you to find out what does well in your area and climate.”

Leave a Reply

More From Top 100 Growers...
ISO Cutting Machine

May 16, 2017

The Top 100 Growers are Investing in More Technology to Offset Labor Shortages

Labor has traditionally been among growers’ most significant costs, but the continued rising costs and lack of available labor are currently two very heavy burdens that growers have to bear. As the labor supply dwindles, the Top 100 Growers discuss their next steps toward investing in technology to streamline efficiency at their respective operations.

Read More

May 16, 2017

The Top 100 Growers Speak Out on Changes Needed in Immigration Reform

Opinions about the new administration’s approach to immigration reform vary widely among Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers. Many say they are “very concerned” about the potential impact on agriculture’s guestworker programs. Others say the entire guestworker program needs to be overhauled to be simpler and easier to use for growers, and hope that this will be part of the reform efforts. And some seem to be generally in favor of the current methods. “I am in favor of securing the borders but want a simple system for legal residency.” — Dale Buist, Countryside Greenhouse and Farm Market “All this talk has made huge waves in the migrant labor workforce. Continuing this path will create an even greater shortage of employees willing to do our type of work.” — Mark Worley, Speedling, Inc. “[Trump] is only enforcing and not reforming. We will lose a lot of our best employees if this […]

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers List

May 12, 2017

How the Top 100 Greenhouse Growers Tackle Managing Costs and Prices

The country’s largest growers continue to strive to maintain a balance with price and costs while making sure they stand out from the competition.

Read More
Latest Stories
ISO Cutting Machine

May 16, 2017

The Top 100 Growers are Investing in More Technology to…

Labor has traditionally been among growers’ most significant costs, but the continued rising costs and lack of available labor are currently two very heavy burdens that growers have to bear. As the labor supply dwindles, the Top 100 Growers discuss their next steps toward investing in technology to streamline efficiency at their respective operations.

Read More

May 16, 2017

The Top 100 Growers Speak Out on Changes Needed in Immi…

Opinions about the new administration’s approach to immigration reform vary widely among Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers. Many say they are “very concerned” about the potential impact on agriculture’s guestworker programs. Others say the entire guestworker program needs to be overhauled to be simpler and easier to use for growers, and hope that this will be part of the reform efforts. And some seem to be generally in favor of the current methods. “I am in favor of securing the borders but want a simple system for legal residency.” — Dale Buist, Countryside Greenhouse and Farm Market “All this talk has made huge waves in the migrant labor workforce. Continuing this path will create an even greater shortage of employees willing to do our type of work.” — Mark Worley, Speedling, Inc. “[Trump] is only enforcing and not reforming. We will lose a lot of our best employees if this […]

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers List

May 12, 2017

How the Top 100 Greenhouse Growers Tackle Managing Cost…

The country’s largest growers continue to strive to maintain a balance with price and costs while making sure they stand out from the competition.

Read More

May 8, 2017

Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Behind the Scenes: How (and W…

It’s more important than ever to have good data that allows us to accurately measure the size and scope of our industry.

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers List

May 8, 2017

2017 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Growers: The Complete Li…

Growth signifies a healthy industry, and indeed, several of Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers expanded their operations significantly between 2016 and 2017.

Read More

April 11, 2017

Jerry Halamuda of Color Spot Nurseries Retires

The co-founder of Color Spot Nurseries has retired, effective immediately, and has named a replacement.

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers List

February 18, 2017

Top 100 Growers Survey for 2017 Is Now Open!

Operations with more than 400,000 square feet of environmentally controlled production are eligible to take the survey, which only takes a few minutes to complete.

Read More
Dan and Jerrys Greenhouse 1

February 17, 2017

Dan and Jerry’s Greenhouse Buys Iowa-Based DeJong Green…

The acquisition will allow Dan and Jerry’s, a bedding plant grower headquartered in Minnesota, to extend its seasonal product offerings and service a new customer base with local distribution.

Read More
Dallas Johnson

January 17, 2017

Dallas Johnson Greenhouses Owner Passes Away at 78

Dallas G. Johnson, who started the company in 1985, is survived by his wife, Kay, and two children.

Read More
Top 100 Breakfast Panel for 2016

July 19, 2016

Top 100 Growers Talk Labor, Automation, And Sustainabil…

More than 60 growers got up with the sun at Cultivate’16 to hear a four-person panel discuss hot topics such as labor, automation, and sustainability at Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers Breakfast, sponsored by BASF.

Read More
Costa Farms won International Grower of the Year. Representing the operation, (left to right) were Chuck Zala, Michael Vera, Menachem Ganon, Jose Costa, and Mike Rimland

May 24, 2016

AIPH Seeking Entries For Its International Grower of th…

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) is inviting ornamental growers from all around the world to enter the AIPH International Grower of the Year Awards (IGOTY) for 2017. Last year’s big winner was Florida-based Costa Farms.

Read More
Top 100 Drone Image Feature

May 16, 2016

Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers Talk Technolo…

The Top 100 Growers are already by nature some of the most technologically advanced greenhouse operations, due to their sheer size and need for efficiency. Many of the largest growers also serve big box merchandisers and home improvement chains, where prices are dictated, so producing plants at the lowest possible cost is essential to growers not only staying in business, but also profiting and expanding their operations. This year’s survey focused on the automation and technology the Top 100 Growers are investing in, and how these advancements have improved their operations, as well as how they have affected growers’ labor issues. We also asked growers about how they’re solving labor issues, where they’re recruiting new hires, and how they’re keeping their people committed. Lean management programs and sustainability certifications have become higher priorities in the past several years, due to growers’ needs to run efficiently and focus attention on sustainable […]

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers With Drone

May 10, 2016

Reading The 2016 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Ranki…

Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers survey reveals continued growth among the nation’s largest operations.

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers List

May 10, 2016

2016 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Growers: The Comp…

Check out the full list of Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Top 100 Growers, which includes nine newcomers and more growth in square footage at the top.

Read More
Scott Schaefer Aris CEO

April 22, 2016

New Aris CEO Scott Schaefer Looks Forward To Dealing Wi…

Schaefer, who has been with Aris for 15 years, grew up working at his family’s greenhouse operation in Illinois.

Read More
Top 100

March 8, 2016

Large Growers: Please Take Greenhouse Grower’s 20…

Has your operation grown in size over the past year? How have you changed your approach to investing in technology to ensure that your operation remains as efficient as possible? How are you recruiting labor and qualified growers? How can large growers work together to promote the benefits of plants, flowers, and gardening? These questions and others like them are waiting for your answers in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top 100 Growers Survey. If your greenhouse square footage is 400,000 square feet or larger, you are eligible to take the survey. Putting together our Top 100 Growers report has always been a great way to track industry trends and get an overview of changes among the biggest players. Your cooperation in filling out this short survey will help make our Top 100 Growers coverage a success. The deadline for completing this survey is Friday, March 18. The Top 100 Growers report […]

Read More
Costa Farms

January 29, 2016

Costa Farms Named International Grower Of The Year

Costa Farms was the night’s biggest winner during an awards gala presented by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) and held at IPM Essen in Germany. (Read more about the business culture that’s driven Costa’s success in Greenhouse Grower’s January 2016 feature story.) The Florida-based grower was named the International Grower Of The Year, and was chosen from a group that included eight other international companies. “This award is a reflection of our entire team, and we are all dedicated to being the best at what we do and making this company successful for the long term,” said Jose Costa, Executive Vice President of Costa’s foliage division. The AIPH awarded gold, silver, and bronze awards in three categories — Finished Plants And Trees, Young Plants, and Cut Flowers — prior to naming the big winner. Costa was the gold winner in the Finished Plants and Trees Category. Each of […]

Read More

January 20, 2016

Color Point Creates New Marketing And Communications De…

According to Color Point co-owner Ken VanWingerden, Maloney’s leadership in the new department will help the company better manage its recent growth both internally and with the entire industry.

Read More