Our well-rounded industry panel is sorting through the best varieties introduced at the California Pack Trials and casting 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 13 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 third 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. This year’s honoree for Industry’s Achievement is Suntory, recognizing the 20th anniversary of Surfinia petunias and Suntory’s role in creating a premium market for vegetative annuals globally. Our marketing honoree is The John Henry Co., recognizing the company’s vision in marketing plants and flowers with innovative packaging on the grower and floral side.
Our Medal of Excellence ceremony is now part of an Evening of Excellence, in which we will also honor our 25th Grower of the Year, also selected by an industry panel. Key event sponsors are BASF and Lambert Peat Moss.
Before 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 www.americainbloom.org.
This is our seventh 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 seventh 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: Mast Young Plants, Grand Rapids, Mich.
This is the fifth year the Mast Young Plants (formerly Glass Corner Greenhouses) has participated. Owned by Rick and Joyce Mast, Mast Young Plants is a leading young plant producer that also sells finished plants. Joining them on the team are Brian Weesies and Jim Raterink.
Finished Grower: The Metrolina Team, Metrolina Greenhouses, Huntersville, N.C.
Metrolina Greenhouses is representing the nation’s largest growers for a third 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 Retailer: Bob “Suds” Sedlatschek, Senior Live Goods Merchant, The Home Depot
Filling in for Vinny Naab this year is Bob Sedlatschek, senior live goods merchant for The Home Depot. Suds oversees live goods in 1,300 stores in the Northern and Western territories. He is directly involved with 250 of the stores and works with five other buyers for the remaining stores. Thank you, Vinny, for lining up Suds for us!
Independent Grower-Retailer: The Welby Team, Welby Gardens, Denver, Colo.
This is the seventh year for the Welby Team, which includes Al Gerace, Marty Gerace, John Gerace, Jr., and Willie Knowles, who manages the Hardy Starts line. Welby is known for its regional Hardy Boy brand.
Broker: Vaughn Fletcher, McHutchison LLC, Liberty, Mo.
Vaughn Fletcher is a sales representative and Midwest sales manager for McHutchison Horticultural Distributors. This is his fifth 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. Armitage visited the trials with Greenhouse Grower’s Editor Delilah Onofrey this year.