Where else can you see a whole world of floriculture in just one week (without leaving the country) but the California Pack Trials? More than 30 flower breeders and propagators rolled out their cutting-edge flower varieties during the ultimate road trip April 14-22. In addition to American companies, many of which are based in California, breeders and producers from as far as Japan, Israel, Germany, England and Holland camp out for a couple of weeks and make a pretty substantial investment in this event.
Nearly 2,000 plant seekers make this pilgrimage each year. While the majority are representatives of the broker distribution chain, busloads of growers travel with their big-box buyers. Many plug, liner and finished growers make the journey on their own. And then you have allied trades and media people, like us, too. This year, Greenhouse Grower was represented by Editor Delilah Onofrey, Managing Editor Sara Tambascio and our new Group Publisher Bob West, who comes from the landscaping side of the green industry. Boy, was he amazed to see how many pansies and petunias there are! He had been to turf trials before but nothing as colorful and elaborate as this. Also traveling with us this year were the winners of our California Dreamin’ contest sponsored by Sakata Seed and Suntory Corp. See "Be Our Guests."
Movers & Shakers
Each year, the California Pack Trials deck reshuffles a little bit. Floranova was on its own in Lompoc at the facility it invested in with Oglevee, which was purchased by Paul Ecke Ranch last year. The entire Oglevee offerings were on display in Encinitas as part of Ecke Ranch.
The most expanded destination was Greenheart Farms in Arroyo Grande. The rose and vegetable liner producer invited breeders Dümmen and Sahin along with packaging partners ITML in pots and the John Henry Co. in merchandising. The fully integrated presence featured a corridor full of merchandising ideas integrating all the companies’ products alongside benches of the new varieties. For more on the packaging trends, see "Merchandising At Pack Trials."
Two new companies also joined the group organized by broker Henry F. Michell at Speedling’s facility in San Juan Bautista. Cyclamen and primula specialist Schoneveld Twello of Holland presented innovative ways smaller cyclamen plants could survive if neglected in the retail environment and be a great impulse item for consumers. Greenex represented Danish kalanchoe breeder Knud Jepsen and offered ways to elevate interest in this versatile plant with stylish packaging promoting both home décor and landscape uses. The enthusiasm all the new companies brought was really contagious.