10 Spring Trials Takeaways

Whether you made the long journey across California or you couldn’t escape the greenhouse during peak season, we’ve got all things California Spring Trials covered for you this issue. But before you soak it in, get a flavor of the weeklong scene with my top 10 Spring Trials takeaways for 2011:

10. The exhibitor count is as big as ever. The return of Benary and Sakata and the seemingly increasing number of European breeders wanting to penetrate the U.S. market gave growers even more varieties to consider this year. Add in the growing presence of non-varieties companies like Braun Horticulture, OHP and Smithers-Oasis, and California is becoming a place where growers can also find crop input and marketing solutions.

9. A potential national promotion is coming. A number of organizations and groups have tried forming one over the years, but none have fully captured the industry’s support. However, the development of BloomIQ.com, a website that offers consumers ideas they can take to the garden center, could be the answer.

8. Variety favorites have new foes. ‘Snow Princess’ lobularia and ‘Black Velvet’ petunia were arguably the most-talked about new varieties of the last two Spring Trials, respectively. This year, Danziger is introducing an impressive lobularia ‘Silver Stream,’ while Dömmen brings its own black petunia to market in ‘Black Jack.’

7. 2D tags are here to stay. I may be the last person on Earth with a smartphone that has 2D tag-reading capabilities, but it’s clear breeders, growers and others see those funny-looking little codes as a way to connect with novice gardeners.

6. Plant introducers are rapidly evolving. Green Fuse and Hort Couture continue to broaden their offerings and give growers looking for one-stop shops more reasons to choose them as a supplier.

5. Roses can resurge. Greenhouse floriculture was so focused on flower type and color over the last 10 years that disease resistance and hardiness in roses suffered. The industry has a chance to win rose growers back, though, with a variety of new breeds and stunning marketing programs like the ones Greenheart Farms unveiled.

4. Growing is getting simpler. In addition to focusing on variety introductions, breeders like Paul Ecke Ranch and Ball FloraPlant are thinking more about how they can help growers expedite production. The Ecke Snap system and Ball’s Genesis cuttings are examples of such innovations.

3. Industry consolidation continues. Over the last four years, we’ve seen breeder acquisitions like Syngenta’s purchase of Goldsmith Seeds and Ball Horticultural Company’s purchase of Kieft Seeds. The latest is Agribio Group’s purchase of Guatemalan cuttings producer Oro Farms. Agribio Group is the parent company of Fides, whose cuttings will now be produced at Oro.

2. Edibles are gaining more traction. Sakata is a new player in the home vegetable garden market after unveiling its Home Grown program; Floranova introduced much-talked-about varieties like ‘Field Of Dreams’ corn and ‘Cherry Falls,’ the beautifully cascading tomato; and Burpee is enhancing its vegetable offerings with the addition of flowers to the brand.

1. Combos innovation is alive and well. When you first see Selecta’s Trixi 2.0 system for combos, you’re bound to mutter: “Why didn’t I think of that?” Trixi 2.0 took Spring Trials by storm, much like Dömmen’s Confetti multi-species liners did when they were introduced a few years ago.

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