Evaluating Landscape Trials

June 15, 2006 - 11:02

As we were finishing up
this second edition of
Big Grower, I made a
trip to north Florida to
the landscape trials at
University of Florida (UF). The start
of the annual performancetrial
pilgrimage, the UF trial
marks the first opportunity to
see the 2007 introductions in
the ground at a third-party
trial. (Look for the exclusive
report from the trial coordinator
in the July issue of GPN.)

It was a great trial, despite
the 95º F heat. I learned a lot
about the varieties — things
that couldn’t be seen at Pack
Trials — and got to visit with
people I don’t see enough.
Even at a busy time, the trip
was definitely worthwhile.

Counting People

I was happy to see some of
Florida’s largest producers at the
trial: You never know if busy
growers, especially large ones, will
prioritize landscape trials.

I saw high-level representatives
from Florida’s big two,
Hines and Costa; Florida-market
specialists Riverview Flower
Farm and American Farms; and
caladium powerhouse Bates Sons
& Daughters — not to mention all
the small and mid-sized growers
in attendance.

There were a lot of people at the
trial. It wasn’t like Home Depot on
Memorial Day weekend — no
room to stand — but there was a
good crowd. I saw people at every
breeder station throughout the
morning and lots of note taking —
and don’t forget, all this happened
despite the brutal heat.

Counting Sales

The sheer number of people in
attendance would satisfy any trial
coordinator or participating
breeder. The trial connected
breeders/marketers with at least
several hundred growers/users
interested enough in their products
to seek them out.

But even with that success, if
you just count people, you don’t
have the whole story. Collectively,
the companies in attendance represented
the lion’s share of Florida
color production, and given
Florida’s year-round market and
top-volume ranking, that’s a
lot of product — product
that may not have been
picked up if it were not seen
at the landscape trial.

This does not imply that
big growers are more important
and small growers less so,
just that there are different
ways to evaluate success than
just counting warm bodies.

They’re Still Important

The other thing I learned
was that, when done properly,
landscape trials are still very
important to the industry. Even if
the attendance were only 25 percent
of what the actual total was.
The opportunity to affect that
much of a region’s production
makes landscape trials much
more important than people
acknowledge.

About The Author

Bridget White
Editorial Director
(847) 391-1004
bwhite@sgcmail.com

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