Montgomery, a marketing consultant who visited hundreds of garden centers this spring, shared highlights and trends from his tours with the Top 100. The Grow Your Own edibles program, for example, was a big plus this year for Lowe’s, Montgomery says. And perhaps the biggest winner in regard to edibles this spring was Scotts.
Mixed baskets and containers were also a big hit this year, particularly programs like Syngenta’s Kwik Kombos or Dummen’s Confetti liners that feature varieties that grow well together. Montgomery, however, says there were a number of mixed baskets and containers on the market that simply did not look good–maybe one variety took over the basket or the two or three in the container simply didn’t grow well together. Whatever the case, Montgomery says breeders and growers need to put thought into combos before putting them on the market.
Charlie Hall, the chairholder of the Ellison Chair at Texas A&M University, shared some of his findings of his own 50-state grower survey. Hall says 15 percent of the growers have vanished from the industry over the last few years. The biggest reduction of growers is on the nursery side.
Recession, of course, is a normal part of the business cycle. The government stimulus will help, Hall says, but much of the stimulus has not yet been felt.
One positive for growers like the Top 100 operations, Hall adds, is that the 15 percent of growers eliminated in recent years is reducing product oversupply.
Immigration An Issue
A key point ANLA’s Craig Reggelbrugge made at the Top 100 Growers Sound Off is he does not expect comprehensive immigration reform to happen this year–and it may not happen by the next presidential election in 2012. The reason: Health care took so much time and energy away from the immigration issue.
Additionally, Reggelbrugge discussed the H-2A guest worker program and said growers in the program should expect to be audited.