Another Take On The Live Goods Market

Another Take On The Live Goods Market

We took a look at live goods buying habits with Express Seed general manager Dave Watt last weeek. This week, we caught up with Menachem Ganon, vice president of international business for McGregor Plant Sales, who offered his own thoughts on the live goods market and some insightful approaches growers should be taking.

What has been happening with orders as spring approaches?

“There is an increasing amount of last-minute changes with additions and deletions. It is critical to be working with producers and suppliers that give you easy access to confirmed orders so you can stay on top of what is scheduled. Surprises cost money. Smart buyers lock in orders early with conservative estimates on what they think they will need. This way, they can ensure production schedules start on the right weeks. Typically, when they get within four weeks of the delivery date, they amend the orders as needed.

“As spring gets closer, we are moving toward the quick-turn crops like herbs and coleus. We’ll also start to see some speculation orders begin to arrive for particular growth or special interest segments.

“Lastly, growers will be filling out partial boxes with new material for performance evaluation. They want to see how the new genetics will perform in season and this is the time.”

Are certain products creating more issues than others?

“The long crops–orchids, bromeliads, nursery stock–are a bad idea right now. All of this is tying up cash for a long time and in a tough economy, cash is king. Growers are migrating from these items for consumer interest reasons as well. Landscape is down and expensive house plants are not as popular today.”

What strategies do you recommend for growers looking to get more bang for their buck?

“Growers absolutely need to stay on top of the improvements in genetics. Labor is almost always the highest production cost in a greenhouse and today. For example, you can grow Kientzler’s new Nino New Guinea impatiens now, and they require no pinching labor and no plant growth regulator application labor. They also finish up to three weeks faster so other labor management practices are cut by 25 to 30 percent.

“There are significant savings opportunities for growers when they change their plant start forms. Many costly tissue culture items such as heuchera can be purchased as URC for dramatically less prices and faster, easier production.

“Another example is bare root grasses that can be purchased for prices that are less than liners–and you get freight efficiencies, too. In some cases, we’ve seen growers getting another dollar per pot in profit on their gallon production of grasses. There are a lot of opportunities to save by making better selections of plants that fit your needs. Your broker must be able to recommend items to you on criteria such as lower freight, lower temperature, lower light and lower labor. They should also be able to recommend complimentary plants to fill out partially utilized greenhouses or to sensibly round out a new retail program.”

What are some common mistakes you see growers making?

“Growers who do not trial new items end up at a disadvantage down the line. The better growers not only trial new items, they give their customers a chance to see what’s coming and partner with them in decision making for next season.

“Over the last five years the biggest mistake I saw was watching growers get overleveraged with too few customers. They lost pricing and terms as a result. You absolutely need a broad enough customer base to protect your business. One decision from a new buyer who has no relationship with you can cost you your entire business. That’s ridiculous if you stand back and look at it. Talented growers are out of business today because of this one fact. It’s very sad.”

What are the “smart” growers doing?

“I can tell you they are listening. They are externally focused. They are clever. They negotiate value, grow value and sell value. They are on a journey of continuous improvement. It is difficult to benchmark the best today because they will be producing differently tomorrow. The smart growers are hunting for better ideas and better people all the time.

“Everyone makes mistakes. Smarter growers tend to understand taking a risk is not gambling. A risk is something you can try and if it does not work, you can roll back to an existing position. A gamble does not afford a roll back to a sustainable position.

“Another trait of the smart grower is that he or she is in a network with other growers. This is a unique industry in that regard. You can get help in forms of co-ops, alliances and joint projects that give you some economy of scale. The trick is not getting over committed to something that takes away time and resources inefficiently.”

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Another Take On The Live Goods Market

  1. I am a grower/retailer heading into my third year. I teach hort. and thought I could easily handle selecting plants that customers would want. Started w/the old standard bedding plants, which sold ok. What I know now is they want new,new,new varieties w/knock-your-socks off color. And of course, in droughty NC, easy to grow, drought tolerant plants. Being small time, I accomplish this by choosing some of the best rooted cutting varieties and seed propagating small amounts of cool plants not normally sold in greenhouse bus.’s in this area. Last year I saw more twinkle in the eye and comments like…you have such unusual plants.
    I’m in a rural area, so customer base is not quite enough. This Spring I’ve decided to hawk them at the state farmer’s market.
    Now if I can just curb my enthusiasm for picking plants that I adore and just really listen to my customers needs, I think I may make a good profit this year.
    J Freeman

  2. I am a grower/retailer heading into my third year. I teach hort. and thought I could easily handle selecting plants that customers would want. Started w/the old standard bedding plants, which sold ok. What I know now is they want new,new,new varieties w/knock-your-socks off color. And of course, in droughty NC, easy to grow, drought tolerant plants. Being small time, I accomplish this by choosing some of the best rooted cutting varieties and seed propagating small amounts of cool plants not normally sold in greenhouse bus.’s in this area. Last year I saw more twinkle in the eye and comments like…you have such unusual plants.
    I’m in a rural area, so customer base is not quite enough. This Spring I’ve decided to hawk them at the state farmer’s market.
    Now if I can just curb my enthusiasm for picking plants that I adore and just really listen to my customers needs, I think I may make a good profit this year.
    J Freeman

More From Varieties...
Begonia Spectre Silver Terra Nova Nurseries

April 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries Releases Two New, Attractive Begonia Varieties

Stardust is the latest addition to Terra Nova Nurseries’ existing T Rex Begonia series, and Silver is the first introduction to the company’s new Spectre Begonia series.

Read More

April 18, 2017

Cool Combos From CAST 2017 – Editor’s Choice

With container gardening becoming more of a lifestyle among consumers than a trend, and breeders continuing to put more effort in container mixes and components, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't share some of the special combinations that not only caught my eye at California Spring Trials, but absolutely took my breath away and made me want to immediately get started gardening.

Read More
Danziger New Hires

April 16, 2017

Danziger Invests in Continued North American Business Growth

As part of a new business structure for its North American market, Mike Fernandez has been appointed Market Manager North America for Bedding Plants and Perennials, and Kate Zvara was named as Key Account Manager and Retail Specialist.

Read More
Latest Stories
Begonia Spectre Silver Terra Nova Nurseries

April 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries Releases Two New, Attractive Begon…

Stardust is the latest addition to Terra Nova Nurseries’ existing T Rex Begonia series, and Silver is the first introduction to the company’s new Spectre Begonia series.

Read More

April 18, 2017

Cool Combos From CAST 2017 – Editor’s Choic…

With container gardening becoming more of a lifestyle among consumers than a trend, and breeders continuing to put more effort in container mixes and components, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't share some of the special combinations that not only caught my eye at California Spring Trials, but absolutely took my breath away and made me want to immediately get started gardening.

Read More
Danziger New Hires

April 16, 2017

Danziger Invests in Continued North American Business G…

As part of a new business structure for its North American market, Mike Fernandez has been appointed Market Manager North America for Bedding Plants and Perennials, and Kate Zvara was named as Key Account Manager and Retail Specialist.

Read More
Florida Flower Trials

April 12, 2017

Looking for Info on New Varieties for Hot Climates? Che…

The Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association’s Florida Flower Trials, which are focused on new and improved varieties able to thrive in the extremes of Florida’s climate, are a great opportunity to connect with national breeders.

Read More
Lupinus Staircase Series (Green Fuse Botanicals)

April 11, 2017

Begonias, Celosias Among Dr. Allan Armitage’s Favorites…

Check out some of Allan’s top picks from his final day at CAST 2017, which included visits to Green Fuse Botanicals and Floranova.

Read More
Rex Begonia container mix at Green Fuse Botanicals

April 11, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals’ Rex Begonias and First Looks; Fl…

Here are the highlights from Green Fuse Botanicals and Floranova on the last day of CAST 2017.

Read More

April 7, 2017

Hort Couture Wows With Farm to Table; Florist Holland R…

On the last day for GroLink and the second to last for the Greenhouse Grower team, the wealth of genetics, marketing programs, and announcements were pleasing to our eyes, ears, and hearts.

Read More

April 7, 2017

California Spring Trials Day Five: Notable New Plant Va…

See some of the new varieties for 2018 displayed at Ball Horticultural and GroLink Plant Company on day five of California Spring Trials 2017.

Read More

April 7, 2017

PanAmerican Promotes Pentas, Plug-and-Play, and Veggies…

On Day 5 of the California Spring Trials, the Greenhouse Grower team hit the Southern California Trials and saw a multitude of new introductions and exciting programs.

Read More

April 7, 2017

CAST 2017: Musings of a California Spring Trials Rookie…

The number of opportunities presented to me are enough to make me rethink my location, but I still have a lot of big decisions to make for the future.

Read More

April 6, 2017

Dr. Allan Armitage’s Top Picks From Ball and GroL…

Here are Dr. Allan Armitage’s five variety picks, plus one display, from on Day 5 of CAST 2017.

Read More

April 6, 2017

Dümmen Orange Provides Retail Concepts; Terra Nova Offe…

Greenhouse Grower hit the Central Coast of California on our Day 4 of California Spring Trials, and what we saw was inspiring and exciting.

Read More

April 5, 2017

California Spring Trials Day Four: New Plant Intros fro…

The Greenhouse Grower team saw loads of memorable plants during day four, as it visited Dümmen Orange, Chisan Orchids, and Windmill Nursery. Dümmen had several notable introductions, including Wild Romance New Guinea impatiens in Blush Pink and White, which inspired the theme of its displays. One of the standout displays was its perennial combos with some new leucanthemum additions. Chisan Orchids in Los Alamos, CA, with Israeli breeders Hishtil, Jaldety, and Cohen Propagators, was a new stop on the route this year. Hishtil has a new gaura series out that includes a compact, low-growing variety, ‘Baby,’ with a mass of pink blooms. Cohen displayed Verbena ‘Mickey Red Rose,’ a unique bi-color that looks like a mixed combo, and Jaldety featured an interesting Cyperus prolifera. Windmill Nursery was the last stop of the day, with breeders Terra Nova Nurseries, Kientzler, J. Berry Nursery, and KiwiFlora. Terra Nova had several new heuchera for show, including ‘Onyx,’ which is a mounding, […]

Read More

April 5, 2017

CAST 2017: Musings of a California Spring Trials Rookie…

Set-aside all the varieties - I have come to the realization that being a grower is where I belong.

Read More

April 5, 2017

Dr. A’s Day Four Top Varieties for CAST 2017

Check out Dr. Allan Armitage's top five picks from visits to Dummen Orange, Chisan Orchids, and Windmill Nursery during day four of California Spring Trials 2017.

Read More

April 4, 2017

Dr. A’s Day Three Picks for CAST 2017

Take a look at Dr. Allan Armitage’s top five favorites from the American Takii, Sakata, and Floricultura stops during the 2017 California Spring Trials.

Read More

April 4, 2017

California Spring Trials Day Three – New Intros f…

Check out some of the great new plant introductions for 2018 the Greenhouse Grower team encountered on day four of California Spring Trials 2017.

Read More

April 4, 2017

Takii’s New Breeding Efforts; Sakata Seed America Turns…

Day three on the trail took us to the last three stops in the north, American Takii, Sakata Seed America, and Floricultura, which showcased a number of companies.

Read More