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...
Bee on Lavender feature

March 23, 2017

Allan Armitage: Plant Consumers Don’t Talk About Varieties; They Talk About Solutions

Allan Armitage says it's time to get in touch with our true audience and market plant solutions, not plant products.

Read More
Spin Top Gaillardia Series (Dummen Orange)

March 22, 2017

New Perennials and Tender Perennials for 2018 from California Spring Trials

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the true perennials and tender perennials that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. Here's a sampling of some of the varieties hitting retail shelves in 2018.

Read More
Zinnia Solmar Series (Floranova)

March 17, 2017

Phlox, Zinnias, and More for 2018 From California Spring Trials

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new annuals that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. They didn't let you down.

Read More
Latest Stories
Bee on Lavender feature

March 23, 2017

Allan Armitage: Plant Consumers Don’t Talk About …

Allan Armitage says it's time to get in touch with our true audience and market plant solutions, not plant products.

Read More
Spin Top Gaillardia Series (Dummen Orange)

March 22, 2017

New Perennials and Tender Perennials for 2018 from Cali…

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the true perennials and tender perennials that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. Here's a sampling of some of the varieties hitting retail shelves in 2018.

Read More
Zinnia Solmar Series (Floranova)

March 17, 2017

Phlox, Zinnias, and More for 2018 From California Sprin…

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new annuals that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. They didn't let you down.

Read More
Cosmos ‘Apollo’ (Floranova)

March 14, 2017

Begonias, Dahlias, and More for 2018 from California Sp…

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new annuals that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. They didn't let you down.

Read More
Pennisetum First Knight Feature

March 11, 2017

Now is the Time for Growers to Plan for Fall Perennial …

If you haven’t already put in your orders for the items you’ll sell this fall, it’s time to start now.

Read More
Dianthus Pink Kisses Selecta Feature

March 8, 2017

Growing Tips for Selecta’s Dianthus ‘Pink Kisses’

Kyle Peterson, Production Manager at Fessler Nursery, grew Dianthus ‘Pink Kisses’ on a trial basis and says he was pleased with its performance.

Read More
Limbo GP burgundy picotee

March 7, 2017

New Petunias and Calibrachoas for 2018 from California …

We asked breeders to share with us pictures and information on some of the great new petunias and calibrachoas that you'll see at California Spring Trials 2017. They didn't let you down.

Read More
Butterfly on a Pollinator Plant Feature

March 7, 2017

Allan Armitage: Why You Should Focus on the Functionali…

New crops are great, but Armitage says selling plants by function makes more sense.

Read More

March 5, 2017

2016 Young’s Plant Farm Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Young's Plant Farm in Auburn, AL.

Read More
kelly-norris

March 4, 2017

Kelly Norris Describes How Growers Can Help Plant the F…

The tough plant varieties unique to their regions could be the urban superstars of tomorrow.

Read More
Welby Gardens field trials

March 2, 2017

2016 Welby Gardens Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Welby Gardens in Denver, CO.

Read More
Zinnia 'Zahara XL Fire Improved'

March 1, 2017

2016 University of Minnesota Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for University of Minnesota in Morris, MN.

Read More
Geranium Combos feature

February 27, 2017

Tips for General Combination and Hanging Basket Product…

Bell Nursery’s Head Grower Tom Wheeler provides his recipe for success when growing premium combos that put on a show at retail.

Read More
Portulaca 'ColorBlast Tangerine'

February 26, 2017

2016 University of Georgia Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University Of Georgia trial gardens in Athens, GA.

Read More
University of Wisconsin field trial gardens

February 25, 2017

2016 University of Wisconsin Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Wisconsin display gardens at the West Madison Agricultural Research Station in Verona, WI.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Christmas Joy Marble'

February 20, 2017

5 New Varieties Shaking Up the Poinsettia Tradition

With poinsettias trending toward non-traditional colors, growers may find new opportunities to spread sales beyond the winter holidays. Here are five of the newest euphorbia varieties to hit the market that may play a role in redefining the future of the poinsettia market.

Read More
University of Tennessee trials overview (2015 University of Tennessee Field Trials)

February 19, 2017

2016 University of Tennessee Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, TN.

Read More
Reiman Gardens field trials

February 18, 2017

2016 Iowa State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames, IA.

Read More