2012 Field Trials: C. Raker And Sons

The Surfinia Collection at Raker's trials gardens

Trials manager: Greg Michalak, Trial Gardens Manager, gregmichalak@raker.com

Location: Litchfield, MI 49252

Weather conditions: Spring and summer weather conditions at C. Raker & Sons have been extremely hot and dry. For May, we had an average high temperature of 76.7°F and an average Low of 63.8°F. In June, we had an average high temperature of 73.6°F and an average Low of 59.7°F. So far in July, we have experienced an average high of 83.6°F and an average low of 69.1°F.

These numbers don’t really tell the full story, however. We’ve had record highs and sustained highs in the mid-90s throughout the period. Our rainfall for the months of May, June and July has been significantly lower than average. We had a total of 2.57 inches of rain for the months of May, June and so far in July.

Trial Garden Preparation
Row trial preparation began May 21 and was completed June 1. All varieties were planted from 70mm Ellepots (approximately 3-inch pots). The material was pinched at transplant into the 70mm Ellepots and again at field planting. Everything was planted outside by June 20.

Hanging baskets were planted mid-May (week 19) and moved outside the first week of June (week 23). Each 14-inch hanging basket has 5 to 7 inputs. Vegetative cuttings were pinched at planting. No growth regulators were used at any time during production (after transplant). At sow/stick, all inputs were treated the same as Raker production crops.

Containers were built inside week 19 and moved outside week 23.

Trial Garden Maintenance
Within each variety, each plant is treated the same to ensure a proper trial. Irrigation is performed as needed, based on weather conditions. Sponsor Beds utilize overhead watering and the rows, hanging baskets and containers have drip irrigation.

Plants are fertilized every 7 to 10 days. Sponsor beds and containers are fertilized by hand using Dosatrons attached to a trailer with a 1000 gallon tank. The rows are fed with variety specific mixes through inline irrigation. The hanging baskets are fed through their drip irrigation. Initial feed in June was 18-3-18 at 200 ppm. Feed switched to 20-10-20 at 300 ppm the first week in July.

Japanese beetles are always the major concern. The grounds are treated in early spring with Dylox. All areas of the Trial Gardens were sprayed the first week in July with a tank mix of Discus/Decathlon. Sevin has also been applied on specific “hot spots” for various insects. Due to the extremely dry conditions, we have had higher than average insect pressure. The Japanese beetles emerged earlier and we have been battling thrips. On the plus side, we are seeing significantly less wet weather diseases.

Top Performers

Sponsor Bed: Benary

Begonia boliviensis ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’ (Benary): This was shown in 20-inch containers, hanging baskets and in the ground. It was spectacular in every area, all summer.
• Petunia Surfinia Series (Suntory): Uniform habit and huge flower power.
• Verbena Temari Series (Suntory): Lots of color early, didn’t like the heat, though.
• Verbena Lanai Series (Goldfisch): Lots of color all season, heat had little effect.
• Cuphea Trend Lavender (Cohen): Full flowered.
Begonia ‘Whopper Red with Green Leaf’ and ‘Whopper Red with Bronze Leaf’ (Ball): Huge, full habit, many flowers.
Heuchera villosa ‘Kassandra’ (McHutchison): Excellent fall colors.
Zinnia ‘Dreamland Coral’ (Takii): Very full, long-lasting flowers.
Scaevola ‘Suntastic Yellow’ (HMA): Unique, very full yellow flowers.
Coleus ‘Under the Sea King Crab’ (Hort Couture): Continues the successful series. Very full, interesting foliage.
• Vinca Cora Series (Syngenta): Every color is vibrant with uniform habit.

Our Great Lakes Native Plant display is in its third year. The area has really filled in, showing that natives can be used in a landscape setting. It is located in the northeast corner of the gardens. This year, we also have multiple “overwintering” areas for various perennials trials.

In addition to the Sponsor beds, All-American Selection Beds and Comparison Trials located in the Trial Gardens, we invite you to explore the grounds and view the Raker landscape. Our team of designers and growers utilize the grounds to flex their creative ideas and skills.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Lavandula 'Meerlo' (Sunset Western Garden Collection)

March 3, 2015

Why You Will Still Grow Today’s Big Perennial 10 Years From Now

What will be the next big perennial? Breeders say it takes more than a splashy plant to distinguish itself in the market. Therefore, the question is not what will be the next big perennial, but rather what perennial performs well enough in the garden to have staying power in the market for years to come.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Avoid Surprises On The Delivery Dock

A call in advance about problems with a plant shipment to a retailer you supply goes a long way toward customer satisfaction.

Read More
Janeen Wright

March 2, 2015

Deliver Plant Quality That Trumps Price [Opinion]

The industry's goal is to have loyal customers who return to the same plants time and time again, not because of price, but owing to a plant brand that shouts top-notch garden performance and is synonymous with excellence, which gives them the secure knowledge that their investment will be worth every hard-earned cent.

Read More
Latest Stories
Lavandula 'Meerlo' (Sunset Western Garden Collection)

March 3, 2015

Why You Will Still Grow Today’s Big Perennial 10 Years …

What will be the next big perennial? Breeders say it takes more than a splashy plant to distinguish itself in the market. Therefore, the question is not what will be the next big perennial, but rather what perennial performs well enough in the garden to have staying power in the market for years to come.

Read More
Heuch Pink Fizz_featured

March 2, 2015

Intergeneric Crosses Are A New Perennial Trend

Intergeneric crosses, oddities some botanists say are an impossibility, have made serious inroads in the perennial world.

Read More
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The G…

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More

February 18, 2015

California Spring Trials Sneak Peek: New Annuals For 20…

If you're like us and you can't wait until the 2015 California Spring Trials to see some of the new genetics that will be hitting the market in 2016, never fear. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out our slideshow to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Athena Brazil Salvia 'Brazilian Purple'

February 18, 2015

ForemostCo And Athena Brazil Unite To Supply Unrooted P…

ForemostCo, Inc. and Athena Brazil have forged a working relationship to support each other in the unrooted perennial cuttings market for North America. The partnership, geared toward accommodating increasing demand for unrooted perennial cuttings in North America, adds diversity to a recently consolidated market.

Read More

February 17, 2015

Poinsettias Had Their Best Year In Many In 2014

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Growers were encouraged by high plant quality, enthusiastic shoppers and a stronger, less saturated market for poinsettias throughout the selling season. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish.

Read More
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

February 17, 2015

Geranium Hybrid ‘Biokovo’ Dubbed 2015 Peren…

Geranium xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,' a naturally occurring hybrid of G. dalmaticum and G. macrorrhizum, is the Perennial Plant Association's top pick for 2015 Perennial of the Year. Learn why this tough, landscape geranium took home the prize.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Holiday Plant Trends And New Varieties

Growers had mixed feelings about the 2014 poinsettia season according to Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Poinsettia Survey. Read about their plans for 2015 and stay up to date on 14 of the newest cyclamen and poinsettia varieties on the market.

Read More

January 21, 2015

Pantone Marsala Plants To Grow In 2015 [Slideshow]

Marsala, an earthy wine-red color, is the Pantone Color of the Year for 2015, and it presents a great marketing opportunity to showcase Marsala-colored plants for outdoor and indoor decorating. Enjoy this round-up of plants with Marsala hues.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Liven Up Indoor And Outdoor Living With 24 New Tropical…

Uniquely colored foliage and vivid blooms are just two of the great features new tropicals and foliage plants add to energize indoor and outdoor spaces.

Read More

January 13, 2015

Take Purdue University’s Survey On Vegetatively P…

Do you have problems callusing or rooting vegetatively propagated perennials? The Purdue University Floriculture Lab would like to help you with these problems, but first the research team there needs your help.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Charon Red'

January 6, 2015

Dan Schantz Farm 2014 Poinsettia Trial Recap And 2015 D…

The 2014 Dan Schantz Poinsettia trials featured more than 170 poinsettia varieties. Here's a summary of the event, as well as a 2015 date for your calendar.

Read More

December 31, 2014

Engage Busy Consumers With Modern-Day Tropical And Foli…

Contemporary tropical and foliage plants fit right in with the hustle and bustle of the twenty-first century. Their versatility lends itself to countless uses both inside the house and out on the patio.

Read More

December 30, 2014

2015 California Spring Trials Are Just Around The Corn…

Are the California Spring Trials on your schedule for 2015? Before the busy growing season sidelines your plans, use this handy resource to get a jumpstart on registering for your trip.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Top 5 Slideshows Of 2014

These popular slideshows from 2014 highlight everything from new perennials, to new veggies, to California Spring Trials.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Suntory Makes Spirits Bright With Princettia Displays

Suntory Flowers started to introduce its varieties to sister company Beam Suntory by collaborating on a holiday interiorscape featuring Princettia at Beam Suntory's offices in Deerfield, Ill., near Chicago.

Read More