California Spring Trials 2018: Musings of a Spring Trials Rookie on Surviving Day One

Andrew Scheldorf, winner of the Dr. Allan Armitage Scholarship for California Spring Trials.

I arrived in sunny California for the 2018 California Spring Trials (CAST) on Friday. It was a pleasant change coming from the slowly warming state of Wisconsin. Even though I was expecting it, I was a little shocked to walk outside and not need a coat, and even be able to see actively growing plants.

Today was my first in-person experience with the California Spring Trials, and wow has it been quite the day! I thought I knew what I was getting into. For the most part, I was correct in thinking it would be a lot of new plants, new people, and some new ideas. What I did not anticipate was the sheer scope and magnitude of it. It truly feels like I stepped into a massive plant catalog, and I am here to read every word.

It’s still only the first day, and I am already impressed and boggled by the amount of new breeding and marketing that I witnessed today, whether it was a new color pattern on a vinca or new colors and flower forms on lavender, I am excited by the breeding work that has been done. It is insane the amount of research, breeding, and marketing that can, and is done to produce a product that hopefully will fit the demand from both the growers and the end consumer. To me, each of the plants I saw today represents all the work that many people did to get that plant here in front of all of us.

Every spring for the last four years, I have watched the reporting of CAST, and every year I was amazed at the new releases and break-throughs that breeders achieve. Looking back, there would always be at least one new plant that I would learn about and think “Wow, I had no idea I even wanted this, but now that it exists I really do!” To me, it is incredible that I have made it here and am seeing all these plants before they even hit the market, in person.

This industry is truly something special, and the more I work in it, the more I think that. Today I was able to talk to anyone, from the CEO of a massive worldwide company to a greenhouse owner. The thing I could see with everyone that I spoke to today was a love for the industry and for the products that we produce. That really makes me happy for choosing this industry to have a career in. I also think that the sheer amount and diversity of what I saw, just today, is a testament to the passion and love that people have for this industry. I am hopeful that as this week progresses, I will continue to be amazed by both the people and the plants that I get to experience here at the California Spring Trials.

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