Greenhouse Grower was back in Columbus, OH, this week, holding its annual Medal of Excellence event on Monday, July 18, during Cultivate’22. The awards reception celebrates those greenhouse operations, plant breeders, technology companies, and other organizations that strive for excellence.
As expected, there was much of that to be found during the event, which was supported by title sponsor Westrock and program sponsors Berger, Nufarm, AdeptAg, and HydraFiber. Keep reading to learn more about this year’s award winners, and check out the slideshow above for a closer look at all the winners.
Technology of the Year: Intrinsa Breeding Technology, Dümmen Orange
Intrinsa uses advanced molecular breeding technologies such as AI phenotyping and predictive breeding to identify natural traits within a plant’s genetics that demonstrate resistance. Improvements in plant genetics with Intrinsa provide resistance to the most important diseases that plague the horticulture industry, including tobacco mosaic virus and chrysanthemum white rust. Strong, long-lasting resistance with Intrinsa means crops perform better for both growers and retailers.
Readers’ Choice Award: Zydeco Interspecific Zinnias, Syngenta Flowers
With fully-double flowers that are 25% larger than the competition, this season extender sets the new industry standard. Zydeco Interspecific Zinnia hosts big blooms and comes in four bright colors, Deep Yellow, White, Cherry, and most popular, Fire. Excellent disease resistance and impressive heat and drought tolerance combine for superior season-long performance for hot summer gardens, and pollinators love them too. Plants are fast-to-finish and available as SatinCoat seed.
Innovator Award: Metrolina Greenhouses
The Innovator award recognizes an individual or company that has developed a breakthrough idea or process that has shown its transformational potential to improve an area in horticulture or impact the industry in a positive way.
Metrolina Greenhouses has pushed the limits of possibility since Tom and Vickie VanWingerden arrived in the U.S. fifty years ago with $5,000 in hand and plans to start a greenhouse business. Tom VanWingerden’s visionary influence was one of the driving forces behind some of the earliest innovations at Metrolina, and his mantra, “automate or stagnate,” remains ingrained in the company’s DNA today.
“Innovation is a mindset, not a project. It’s something you do every day,” said Abe Van Wingerden, co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses. “Our goal is to do something different and better every day.”
Editor’s Choice Award: Tradescantia ‘Pistachio White’, Green Fuse Botanicals
A breeding breakthrough allows this all-new tradescantia to maintain heavy white variegation while still supporting vigorous growth. It is an excellent selection for monoculture in quarts through hanging baskets, as well an eye-popping combination item. Year-round sales are simple as a spring or foliage item.
“Our goal is to elevate the quality of our plants so both growers and consumers can be successful,” said Jim Devereux of Green Fuse Botanicals.
Operation of the Year: Corso’s Horticulture
Innovation at Corso’s Horticulture starts with automation. The operation has mechanized its sticking and plant potting processes and uses a warehousing super market pulling system to improve lean production. Development of new perennial cultivars at Corso’s is also an innovative process. Plants are trialed and analyzed for multiple years through partnerships with customers and breeders.
“I want to thank the suppliers and vendors who have helped us succeed, as well as our amazing team from office workers to growers to our H-2A employees,” said Chad Corso of Corso’s Horticulture. “Several generations have helped build this business, and we are proud to continue that.”
Industry Achievement Award: Dr. Charlie Hall
Dr. Charlie Hall’s service to the greenhouse industry is unprecedented. The insights and expertise he has shared throughout his career have benefited many in the industry, and he is renowned in many horticultural circles for his insights and expertise. An economist by training, Dr. Hall is nationally recognized in academia and in the horticulture industry for the enthusiasm and passion he brings to his work.
“You can’t be in my position without having good partners, and that includes my students, the faculty of Texas A&M, and industry partners like Greenhouse Grower,” Hall said. “I don’t get to say this a lot, but I am speechless.”
Industry’s Choice Award: Impatiens Solarscape Series, PanAmerican Seed
Solarscape is the first interspecific impatiens from seed and provides unbeatable color in full-sun landscapes and patio containers. Solarscape is durable and performs just like vegetative varieties, but now with the flexibility of seed to make scheduling a breeze. Greenhouses that supply the professional landscape market will appreciate this option for non-branded needs that grow strong in the sun. Solarscape plants are low-maintenance and provide high-impact color for the gardener.
“Thank you to the panel who selected us,” said Ann Leventry, President of PanAmerican Seed, who accepted the award along with Solarscape breeder Mario Guillen. “This was a complicated project, and we are thrilled to see it being recognized.”
Head Grower of the Year: Andrew Butler, Green Valley Greenhouse
Andrew is constantly seeking out information to increase his knowledge, with an eye to greater efficiency and overall quality in his production. He has maximized his use of high-tech delivery systems and innovative, integrated fertility and IPM solutions on a large scale across a diverse crop.
“Many thanks to our owners who give me the freedom to do unique things at our company,” Butler said. “We have a culture that makes people want to come to work here.”