Making The Grade

As we went to press, our jury members had just returned from the California Pack Trials and were thinking about their votes for the top five new introductions to consider for Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence for Breeding.

Their collective nominations will determine the finalists for the award, which will be presented on July 16 in an Oscars-style awards reception during the OFA Short Course. The panel will vote again on the finalists to determine the Industry’s Choice winner and for the first time you, our readers, will vote on these finalists to determine a Reader’s Choice winner. We also will present the traditional Editor’s Choice and a marketing award and an industry achievement award determined by the editors.

Immediately following the awards will be an opportunity to win $5,000 in a raffle that benefits America In Bloom. Tickets are $100 each and can be ordered online at

This is our fifth year having a panel decide the nominees for the Industry’s Choice. We present this year’s jury:;

PLUG GROWER: The Raker Team, C. Raker & Sons, Litchfield, Mich.

This is the fifth year the Raker Team has served on our panel. This leading plug producer has set the standard for serving customers of all sizes with the widest selection of annuals, perennials and specialty cut flowers.

LINER GROWER: The Glass Corner Team, Grand Rapids, Mich.

This is the third year the Glass Corner Team has participated. Owned by Rick and Joyce Mast, Glass Corner is a leading young plant producer that also sells finished plants.

FINISHED GROWER: The Metrolina Team, Metrolina Greenhouses, Huntersville, N.C.

We’re excited to welcome Metrolina Greenhouses to our panel this year! Metrolina is the largest single location in the United States and focused on finished plants for mass retail. Representing Metrolina are Abe Van Wingerden, Sim McMurry and Mark Yelanich.

LARGE RETAIL: Vinny Naab, Naab Horticultural Marketing, Bethlehem, Pa.

As a long time regional buyer for Home Depot, he definitely knows big retail. He consults with many in the supply chain who serve large retailers.

INDEPENDENT GROWER-RETAILER: The Welby Team, Welby Gardens, Denver, Colo.

This is the fifth year for the Welby Team, which will be Al Gerace and nephew John Gerace, Jr. Known for its Hardy Boy line of plants and trials, Welby’s rooting division is Hardy Starts.

BROKER: Vaughn Fletcher, McHutchison LLC, Liberty, Mo.

Vaughn Fletcher is a sales representative and Midwest sales manager for McHutchison Horticultural Distributors. This is his third time on our panel.

ACADEMIC: Dr. Allan Armitage, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

As contributing editor, Armitage is our own resident varieties guru. His field trials are the litmus test of performance for the Southeast and he is always first to spot a new crop.

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