The State Of The Young Plant Market

2013 Top 20 Young Plant Growers

The young plant market remained relatively stable in 2013, according to Greenhouse Grower’s annual Young Plant Grower Survey. While there was some shifting of position among the Top 20 growers as compared to our 2012 list, the shifts were mainly small, just up or down one position. The exception was Aris Horticulture. The combined total production from its three divisions — Keepsake Plants, Aris and Green Leaf Plants — was 29 to 33 million units, a drop of 47 million plants, which took the company off the Top 20 list this year.

Overall, the results of our survey showed a net loss to the market of 94 million units compared with 2012 among our Top 20 young plant growers. Total production among the Top 20 in 2012 was 2.96 billion plants, so it was a reduction of about 3 percent.

Annuals Continue To Decline
Last year we reported that production of bedding annuals was declining, as indicated by respondents to the survey. The trend continued this year, with the majority of growers who answered this question saying they had cut back on annuals.

However, specialty annuals led the way in categories that are growing, followed by blooming potted plants. Again, this follows the trend reported last year. Perennials seem to be bouncing back a bit, with several growers reporting they are seeing gains in this category.

A Trend Toward Larger Sizes
The majority of young plant growers in our survey say there is a trend toward larger sizes, in particular toward 288 trays.

“Larger size plugs reduce the finish time for the purchaser,” says Bobby Barnitz of Bob’s Market & Greenhouses.

Doug Cole of D.S. Cole Growers agrees, saying he is seeing more interest in larger liners for items that would otherwise need to be started in January or early February.

“More and more growers are moving away from the 512 tray and starting with the 288 tray,” says Bill Swanekamp of Kube-Pak. “Sales of 162 and 102 trays are up, as well.”

However, it depends on the customer, because a few growers see a trend toward smaller sizes and others are seeing increased demand for both small and larger sizes.

“Small sizes are growing in popularity due to the price point and the lower freight costs,” says April Herring of Pacific Plug & Liner.

“For smaller customers, the trend is toward bigger inputs; for larger customers it’s the opposite,” says Paul Karlovich of C. Raker & Sons.

His view is seconded by Andrew Bishop of Green Leaf Plants, who also sees more demand for both smaller and larger sizes. “The distribution is getting flatter across a broader range,” he says.

Handling Late Orders
Every young plant grower has to grapple with the issue of late orders, but our survey respondents deal with the issue in different ways. Some plan for it, growing extra product on speculation; others are pulling away from growing on spec because they find it to be unprofitable.

“The trend is for orders coming in later and later, but as a producer you have to put certain stipulations in to handle those late orders,” Barnitz says. “There is nothing easy about it, because it affects your space allotments and overall efficiencies of how your production is handled.”

“As an organization, we have put procedures in place to deal with the lateness of orders,” says Kathy Pantzlaff of Floral Plant Growers. “We try to make the ship dates for as many late orders as possible. When we cannot meet a required ship date, we present other options to the customer.”

Spec production is still a key strategy for some. Pacific Plug & Liner, for example, grows product on speculation based on previous years’ sales of very popular or new items, says Herring.

“Filling last-minute orders is important to us,” says Larry Silverman of Silverleaf Greenhouses. “We grow quite a bit of spec material during certain times of the year.”
Quality considerations help make decisions on late orders for Gro ‘n Sell.

“Ninety percent of our business is grow-to-order,” says Dave Eastburn of Gro ‘n Sell. “If there is insufficient lead time or deadlines are missed, we don’t attempt to fill the order. The product won’t finish with the correct specs and everyone will be disappointed.”

Gary Knipe of the Keepsake Division of Aris Horticulture, says his division has a bit more flexibility because it produces vegetative cuttings from the company’s own stock.

“We can handle late-season orders by keeping our stock in production longer,” he says.

Freight Costs, Labor And Profit Margins Are Top Concerns
While the challenges are many, three stood out, and they are familiar ones to most growers — not just young plant producers. Careful attention to detail and efficient business practices are how growers are dealing with increased price pressure, labor costs and shortages and skyrocketing freight costs.

“Our customers don’t have any appetite for price increases, so we are constantly striving to lower our production costs,” says Walter Gravagna of Van de Wetering Greenhouses.

“A big challenge is maintaining quality in an environment of relentless pressure on prices,” says Green Leaf’s Bishop.

Staying competive and still remaining profitable is another concern for growers.

“We are looking closer at each quote and at freight charges to make sure that every order going out the door produces profit,” says Tom Van Vugt of Plainview Growers.

Mike Rinck of AG 3, Inc. says his main challenges are finding growers that are detail-oriented, skyrocketing freight charges and overall labor issues.

Nobody has any definitive solutions, but everyone is looking at every detail.
“I don’t know if you solve these issues,” says Silverleaf’s Silverman. “You learn to work hard at controlling costs, whether they be materials, energy or labor. All are challenging in today’s marketplace.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Crop Inputs...

April 20, 2015

Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offer Effective Strategies For Insect And Disease Control On Vegetables

The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.

Read More
Celosia dragon's breath_Sakata

April 20, 2015

Sakata’s Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ Steals The Show In Salinas

Since January, when I first saw celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ in the landscape at Costa Farms’ Season Premier, I knew it looked like a great plant that would garner some serious attention. And sure enough, up and down the trials road, people were talking about Sakata’s hot new introduction. Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is a seed-propagated, plume-type celosia that is said to actually perform better with less fertilizer and water. If it’s fed too much, its dark leaves lose their reddish-purple coloring and turn green, and by restricting water, it tends to bloom more. It tends to be a more vigorous plant than other plume-type celosias, and its large blooms are quite attractive. Sakata also introduced a new series of African Marigolds. Proud Mari comes in Orange, Yellow and Gold, and has huge, fist-sized flowers that bloom vigorously. New colors in SuperCal petunias are L.A. Yellow and Pink, and they are fabulous additions […]

Read More

April 17, 2015

Sakata Seed Uses California Spring Trials Display Plants To Give Back

Sakata Seed America is putting its post-CAST (California Spring Trials) plants and flowers to good use to support events in local California communities of Salinas and Morgan Hill. The plants, along with donations through Sakata's Charitable Giving Program, will support three fun-filled community events that promote healthy lifestyles and support the agricultural industry.

Read More
Latest Stories

April 20, 2015

Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offe…

The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.

Read More

April 15, 2015

BASF’s Pageant Intrinsic Fungicide Registration A…

The state of California has approved the supplemental label registration of Pageant Intrinsic brand fungicide for disease control in the commercial production of greenhouse-grown tomatoes and tomato transplants for the home consumer market.

Read More
Egg card used for insect control in Parkway Garden’s retail area.

April 13, 2015

Biocontrols Use Requires Commitment

For some companies, a switch to biocontrols is an easy decision to make. Parkway Gardens of Ontario, Canada, began using biocontrols nine years ago after Erik Jacobsen, the company’s owner, wanted to expose Parkway, its customers and the environment to fewer pesticide products. “Many pesticides were increasingly ineffective, and in Canada, new product registration moves with glacial slowness,” Jacobsen says. “The labor cost of applying pesticides is much greater than using biocontrols.” In addition, it was also an opportunity to market the company’s eco-friendliness to a younger demographic, he says. In a Q & A with Greenhouse Grower, Jacobsen explains what biocontrols and methods have proved effective for Parkway Gardens Greenhouse Grower: In what types of greenhouse structures are you using biocontrols? Erik Jacobsen: Our greenhouses are all poly covered. About half the range is a Westbrook 14-foot at peak gutter-connected block, and the remaining half a mix of quonset-style […]

Read More

April 11, 2015

Lowe’s Announces Commitment To Phase Out Neonicotinoids…

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s companies announced April 9 that it has committed to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides from its stores in a gradual phase-out over the next 48 months. In response, horticulture industry associations issued a statement that Lowe’s position is surprising, considering the most recent and positive reports on the state of honeybee health and recent peer reviewed research, and that this is an issue for which sound science must take priority.

Read More

April 9, 2015

Survey Snapshot Shows Biocontrols Mainstreaming

Have you incorporated biocontrols into your greenhouse operation? If so, you’ve got plenty of company. An anonymous online survey by Greenhouse Grower magazine in December 2014 of more than 156 ornamental plant and flower growers across the U.S. found 81 percent used biocontrols in 2014.

Read More

March 31, 2015

Manufacturers Are Taking Biologicals To The Next Level

Through acquisitions and new products, many crop protection companies are making firm commitments to the future of the biocontrols industry.

Read More
OxiPhos_BioSafe2

March 23, 2015

BioSafe Makes Label Changes To OxiPhos And ZeroTol 2.0

There have been some recent label changes made to the BioSafe Systems product OxiPhos, a systemic bactericide/fungicide that reduces downy mildew spores when tank mixed with ZeroTol 2.0.

Read More
Nufarm_logo

March 23, 2015

Nufarm Fungicides Now Registered For Use On Edible Crop…

Nufarm Americas announced label expansions for two of its fungicides that will provide more pest management options for the ornamental industry. The Cleary 3336 F and EG fungicides are now registered for use across a wider range of edible crops, including select greenhouse vegetables and transplants, herbs and backyard fruit.

Read More
ColeusDMLeafSporulation_Daughtrey

March 11, 2015

Research Gives Clues For Preventing Coleus Downy Mildew

Maintaining awareness of coleus downy mildew is more important than ever to safeguard these attractive plants for reliable garden performance.

Read More
Rose Rosette on Knockout rose, May 2013. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 2, 2015

Rose Rosette Disease Fight Gets A Boost From Government…

In 2014, $4.6 million was awarded through the Farm Bill to tackle rose rosette disease, a devastating pathogen that affects one of the industry’s most important crops.

Read More
Fig 1 Leafy Gall On Leucanthemum Becky

March 2, 2015

How To Prevent Leafy Gall Before You Lose Plants

Leafy gall is a nasty disease that can go undetected until plant damage is done. Take these steps to protect your crops from infection.

Read More

February 17, 2015

A New Look At Biological Control: Can Plants Affect The…

The success of a biological control program depends on a number of factors including quality of natural enemies, timing of release, release rates and environmental conditions. However, what is typically not taken into consideration is how plants can affect the performance of natural enemies, including attack rate and searching ability. Biological control agents work hard to protect plants, but plants have ways to help themselves, too.

Read More

February 1, 2015

New Pest Control Products For Your Toolbox

Add one of these new insecticides to your IPM program for successful pest control.

Read More
IR-4_profile_Feb2015

January 29, 2015

IR-4: A Pest Management Resource For Growers

Almost 40 years ago, IR-4 (Interregional Research Project Number 4) began serving the ornamental horticulture industry, helping to facilitate the registration of pest management tools. IR-4 does this primarily by surveying growers about their pest management issues and then hosting workshops to review survey results and set priorities for the coming years. Most recently, IR-4 coordinated a meeting of researchers and industry members on pollinator health and neonicotinoid chemistries to start a discussion on the needed research. The next step will be to get the outcomes from that workshop out to the public.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow: Peace Tree…

Lloyd Traven, a speaker at the upcoming Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow, was one of the industry’s early adopters of biocontrols in the greenhouse. Traven, owner of Peace Tree Farm, is evangelical about the technology as an effective tool for resistance management, as well as improved plant quality that contributes to a grower’s bottom line.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Southwest Perennials Improves Production, Shortens Crop…

A father-and-son team find LEDs deliver a higher rooting rate for cuttings propagated under the lights.

Read More
Wainwright-web-620x349

January 22, 2015

Quality Control With Biocontrols

Make sure the shipment of beneficials that just arrived is viable and ready to go to work in your greenhouse, nursery, or field. Here are five steps you can take to ensure success with your biocontrols.

Read More

January 9, 2015

6 New Fertilizer Products For Healthy Plants

These five products add even more options for delivering nutrients to the root zone.

Read More