Top 100 Growers: Growers Sound Off On Contract Growing

By |

Top 100 Growers: Growers Sound Off On Contract Growing

Contract growing isn’t for everyone, but the majority of the Top 100 Growers are involved in one capacity or another. Many are the principal growers of Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s who contract others to produce particular crops for their big box customers. Others are the growers taking orders from those principal growers, filling up their greenhouses when they can with 100,000 pansy flats here and 75,000 color bowls there.

But regardless of whether a Top 100 Grower is involved in contract growing or not, the majority of the Top 100 (67 percent) believe contract growing is a healthy way to do business. The benefits contract growers reap are numerous, after all.

“We have better space utilization, we’re able to maintain labor and spread overhead costs,” says George Lucas, the owner of Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, N.J.

The Top 100 Growers Survey
Greenhouse Grower conducted a survey earlier this year and sent it by eMail to a list of Top 100 Growers prospects. We also shared the survey with readers in Benchrunner, our weekly eNewsletter.

In the survey, we asked growers to report their total square footage of environmentally controlled greenhouse space, shade greenhouses and field production. We also asked growers for a breakdown of their crops and percentage of sales by customer, as well as questions about their involvement in contract growing. In all, 43 of the 100 growers featured on this year’s list responded to our survey. We collected the information needed to flesh out the Top 100 list by phone and eMail.

Greenhouse Grower will conduct its next Top 100 survey in early 2012. If you are a Top 100 Grower who adds or retracts environmentally controlled greenhouse space sometime in 2011 – or if you’re a non-Top 100 Grower who makes a significant structural addition to warrant consideration for the list – eMail Managing Editor Kevin Yanik at kmyanik@meistermedia.com. Keep in mind the 100th-largest operation in the United States this year has 677,000 square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse space.

Adds Speedling CEO Greg Davis: “Contract growing allows us to leverage a larger sales force and helps us to focus on quality and efficiency of production.”

In our surveys, we actually broke growers into four separate contract-growing categories:

1) Growers who produce plant material for other growers through contracts;
2) Growers who contract other growers to produce material for them;
3) Growers who produce plant material for other growers through contracts and contract other growers to produce material for them;
4) Growers who sell 100 percent of their material direct.

Many of the Top 100 Growers who responded share Lucas’s and Davis’s positive sentiments.

All seven growers in the contract-growing group who responded (Group 1), for example, indicate business as a contract grower has been steady from year to year. All seven also indicate contract growing is a healthy way to do business.

There is a flip side, though. The group of growers selling 100 percent direct (Group 4) are more skeptical about contract growing. Of the 15 growers in this group who responded, four (27 percent) indicate contract growing is not a healthy way to do business and eight (53 percent) aren’t sure whether contract growing is healthy or not. Ten of the 15 serving direct, however, indicate they’ve never tried contract growing.

Kevin Yanik is the former managing editor of Greenhouse Grower.
Tags:

    Leave a Reply

    One comment on “Top 100 Growers: Growers Sound Off On Contract Growing

    1. Susan

      We are looking for Contract growers for tropical plantings of various sizes. Please contact me @ sphatdwl@gmail.com. We are in Lakewood,Colorado. Thanks