Top 100 Growers

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Top 100 Growers

Growers are taking charge with production, transportation and vendor management, meaning they look after their crops from cradle to grave, in many instances. This year, we take a look at changes in this market segment, including how these growers deal with challenges, including tight margins and rising fuel and energy costs, all while keeping retail customers and their customer’s customers–consumers–happy.

Read on for details on how the largest growers in the country are dealing with transportation, brand demands including the sustainability movement, and the labor drain.

Bigger, Faster, More

The growers on our list are controlling more square footage than ever before. These operations are now looking after 2.5 million more square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse area compared to last year (see The Big Get Bigger).

A few new growers jumped up on our radar screens and a few list veterans made some major moves to change square footage in this year’s Top 100 Growers list. Color Spot Nurseries leaps to the top of the list this year, adding 4.8 million square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse area, including that gained through the acquisition of Powell Plant Farm, last year’s No. 18. Kurt Weiss Greenhouses added about 500,000 square feet of greenhouse this year, but moves down to No. 2 on the list from the top spot last year. Yoder Brothers moves down one spot to No. 3, subtracting about 250,000 square feet of greenhouse area. Costa Nursery Farms added about 500,000 square feet of greenhouse area from last year and ranks No. 4 on the list. Paul Ecke Ranch (No. 5) went down slightly in size, but retained the same position on the list as last year. Metrolina Greenhouses didn’t add square footage, but moved up the list from No. 9 to No. 6. Rocket Farms, a new addition to the list, blazes to No. 7 with the addition of the former Pajaro Valley Greenhouses in Watsonville, Calif. Rounding out the top 10 are Hines Horticulture, Speedling Inc. and Altman Plants.

How We Compile The Top 100 Growers List

In February and March, we collect survey results from growers through the Web and by fax. Any growers on last year’s list who did not respond to the survey are contacted by phone to confirm current production square footage and crop breakdown. Unconfirmed square footages are estimated from the best information available to the editors.

Top 100 Grower rankings are determined based on environmentally controlled greenhouse area. Outdoor production and shade house area is not included.

Change It Up

Changes in the industry over the past year have affected the list. In addition to Powell Plant Farm and Pajaro Valley Greenhouses, Boven’s Quality Plants and Ulery Greenhouses are no longer on the list. Boven’s was sold to two grower operations, including Plants Unlimited, No. 99. Ulery Greenhouses and Virginia Growers were purchased by Bell Nursery, leading to a big shift on this year’s list. The purchases boosted Bell’s square footage to just shy of 4 million square feet and moved the producer from No. 20 last year to No. 13. Baucom’s Nursery also closed its 1,089,000-square-foot operation in the last year.

Rising Stars

Several growers moved up the list, adding production space. GroLink Plant Co. moved up 12 positions from No. 23 to No. 11, adding more than 2.2 million square feet of area. Timberline Nursery added 700,000 square feet of leased space to production, jumping from No. 82 to No. 36. Henry Mast/Masterpiece Flower company added 214,000 square feet, moving from No. 85 to No. 63. Esbenshades Greenhouses also moved up the list significantly, from No. 99 to No. 87.

Other than Rocket Farms and Plants Unlimited, new growers on the list are Armstrong Growers (82), Twixwood Nursery (89), Ever-Bloom (97), Nash Greenhouses (98) and Lucas Greenhouses (100).

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