News

October 26, 2001 - 11:58

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the National Agricultural Statistics Service survey, the first multi-state nursery production survey of its kind. It is meant to supplement the more comprehensive Decennial Census of Horticultural Specialities. Seventeen states were selected for the survey based upon sales reported in the Census of Horticultural Specialities. All known growers in the surveyed states with annual sales of at least $10,000 were included in the survey.


The nursery statistics presented are compiled from the survey, which was developed with the assistance of industry leaders. Nine nursery plant categories (broadleaf evergreens, coniferous evergreens, deciduous shade trees, deciduous flowering trees, deciduous shrubs and other ornamentals, fruit and nut plants, cut and to be cut Christmas trees, propagation material and transplants for commercial truck crop production) were selected for the survey. These align with similar groupings in the 1998 Census of Horticultural Specialities. The determination of whether the plant was evergreen or deciduous was based on the location of production, e.g., an azalea may be an evergreen in Florida while the same plant in Connecticut would be considered deciduous.


Questionnaires were mailed in January 2001, to all known growers with at least $10,000 in annual sales. All qualifying operations were asked questions regarding production area, full- and part-time labor, and gross sales. Producers with at least $100,000 in sales were asked to provide additional data, such as number of units sold during 2000, gross sales dollars and percent of total sales that were wholesale.


The survey revealed that 2000 gross value of sales of the nine categories of nursery products totaled $3.32 billion in the 17 selected states. The deciduous shrubs and other ornamentals category accounted for the largest portion of gross sales, with $772 million or 23 percent of total sales dollars. Broadleaf evergreens accounted for $593 million or 18 percent of the total sales. Deciduous shade trees is the third-highest category, bringing in $406 million or 12 percent of the survey total. Coniferous evergreen sales totaled $403 million or 12 percent of the total.


Filling out the list are propagation material ($349 million, 11 percent), fruit and nut plants ($299 million, 9 percent), deciduous flowering trees ($233 million, 7 percent), cut and to be cut Christmas trees ($149 million, 4 percent) and transplants for commercial truck crop production ($120 million, 4 percent).


The top three contributing states to the survey were California (28 percent), Oregon (15 percent) and Florida (14 percent). The number of nursery operations meeting the required sales totaled 6,535 in the 17 states. Firms with sales of over $100,000 numbered 2,714 while those with sales over $1 million totaled 681. Florida had the largest number of operating nurseries with 991, while Oregon reported 867 and North Carolina 698. The 6,535 nurseries reported production area of over 369,000 acres, with the majority of those acres in Oregon (60,400).

Everybody’s Tragedy

This past month, every American’s life changed forever. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, brought about a range of emotions – fear, sadness, horror and anger. With so many lives lost, an entire generation of Americans is forever changed, not only in how they feel about their country but how they view events around the world.


With the emotional and financial landscape of the country so altered and war seemingly on the horizon, every person, every business in America will be somewhat affected. However small and seemingly insignificant, floriculture will have to adjust to the changes taking place in our country. The change in market, necessary shipping hassles and more localized problems are just a few of the things that nurseries, florists and greenhouses will have to address over the coming months. GPN spoke to a few floriculture professionals to get their impressions on the tragedy and how it will change the way they do business.


Jack van Wetering is as close to the center of last month’s events as anyone in the field with his Ivy Acres Nursery, based on Long Island, located just miles from the site of the terrorist act. After a strong sales week before, during and after Labor Day weekend, Ivy Acres has seen little or no activity in the past weeks. Van Wetering, however, is not that worried about the floriculture industry or the country.


"The long term effects, especially if or when we go to war, is that people may not be so easy to spend," said van Wetering from his New York office. "Flower sales will be slow, I believe, but my company will be all right because vegetable sales may very well go up. But, obviously, people will be watching their money."


Tragedy


However, van Wetering also knows shipping will be a different issue from now on. "Shipping, right now, is very difficult," he said. "Who knows what kind of security changes will be made? Cell phone communication has been hard. All around, life is harder."


Plug producer Speedling also predicts that a change in shipping is a necessary evil. "We’ve already experienced delays by air," Speedling’s Mark Worley said. "Delta has told us that they are not sure when they will resume, and although other carriers will be going full steam soon, it’s been tough."


"As far as a long-term effect," continued Worley, "security will be tighter. If pricing of cargo transportation goes up, that will be a major concern. It will effect everyone. If we go to war, it will affect all of us, and we will expect a downturn."


Jack Williams of Paul Ecke Ranch echoed Worley’s concerns about shipping but remained optimistic that the attack might result in increased plant sales. "I think people are going to be slow to get back on airplanes; they’re going to stay around home – not travel as much," said Williams. The result of this increased focus on the home could translate into home and landscape improvements and increased sales.


For the most part, floriculture seems to have escaped this tragedy with little direct impact. The shipping season for fall and winter cuttings has passed, and spring shipment has not yet begun. One of the areas that might show some impact is rooting stations. Young plant producer HMA expressed some concerns regarding shipping delays.


"The delays will be a problem," said HMA’s Jim Snyder, "because our cuttings are sensitive to heat, and if they have to sit in a plane waiting to be transported, it could cause a problem. The import of offshore cargo might be also affected because of higher energy prices, but I don’t think the size of our product will be any different."


HMA receives cuttings, including shipments from overseas; roots the cuttings and resells them to finish growers. With approximately a 1-month lead time, many early spring crops and crops destined for Southern growers are ready to begin rooting. Shipping delays could have substantial impact these businesses if not normalized quickly.


Despite his concerns, Snyder knows it is no time to panic.


"Our business is not a capital investment product," explained Snyder, "so we are insulated. And, if the past is any indication, demand will stay about the same, meaning the impact will be minimal."


The terrorist acts have caused great damage to our country – physically, emotionally and mentally. However, one of the strengths of this nation is its ability to pull together and come back from hard times. On a much smaller scale, the floriculture industry will also come together, fight through these hard times and escape relatively unscathed. Á


  • Jim McLaughlin

"The floriculture industry has always done well in times of crisis. People use flowers to show grief, joy, respect, happiness...anything. In the end, industry sales might not be effected by the terrorist attacks."


–Jack Williams,


Paul Ecke Ranch

When you’re in the Northwest, fairly isolated from the rest of the floriculture industry by timezones and mountains, you count the days until the start of the only conference and trade show in your area, as evidenced by the attendance at this year’s FarWest Show.


Traditionally a favorite venue for nurseries and a showcase for woody production, the organizers of the FarWest Show have in recent years begun emphasizing the educational portion of the program. The result, the Ornamentals Northwest Seminars, is a much welcomed three-day event for 15,000 Northwestern growers.


Recognizing the need for more greenhouse-oriented information at this and other regional shows, GPN and Syngenta debuted the GPN/Syngenta Educational Symposium at this year’s FarWest Show, August 23-24, 2001. A two-part series on managing greenhouse diseases and pests, the Educational Symposium featured nationally recognized researchers Ann Chase, President of Chase Research Gardens, and James Bethke, Research Associate at the University of California-Riverside.


The idea behind the symposium was to help regional conferences in their quest to offer quality educational programs to their growers. The GPN/Syngenta Educational Symposium brought together researchers and growers in a format conducive to discussion. The three-hour sessions offered time for speakers to present findings from their latest research and for growers to ask questions about problems they were encountering in their greenhouses.


"This is my favorite way to give a talk," said Ann Chase after her session. "I actually have time to interact with the growers; we can go around the room and talk about any problems they might be having or about which chemical works in what situation. Everyone gets something out of a session like this, so it’s nice to do. I think we could have all gone for another three hours," Chase added, laughing.


Each of the two sessions – Thursday afternoon’s focusing on diseases of greenhouse crops and Friday morning’s focusing on pests of greenhouse crops – attracted over 200 attendees, a record for greenhouse sessions at the FarWest.


"We’ve never had this many people in attendance at a greenhouse session," said Ornamental Seminars Northwest Educational Director Jonathon Carr. "We were a little surprised by the number of attendees showing interest in greenhouse crops."


And attendees were equally surprised by the high caliber of information offered at a "nursery" show. Almost an hour after completion of his talk, Jim Bethke had to excuse himself from questioning growers to rejoin his family vacation. "This is really great," said Bethke on his way out. "You don’t usually see this kind of reception at a pest talk."


After its remarkable success in Oregon, the GPN/Syngenta Educational Symposium will be taking to the road next year. Possible 2002 venues include the Southeastern Greenhouse Conference, the New England Greenhouse Conference and the FarWest Show/Ornamentals Northwest Seminars.


  • Bridget White

When you’re in the Northwest, fairly isolated from the rest of the floriculture industry by timezones and mountains, you count the days until the start of the only conference and trade show in your area, as evidenced by the attendance at this year’s FarWest Show.


Traditionally a favorite venue for nurseries and a showcase for woody production, the organizers of the FarWest Show have in recent years begun emphasizing the educational portion of the program. The result, the Ornamentals Northwest Seminars, is a much welcomed three-day event for 15,000 Northwestern growers.


Recognizing the need for more greenhouse-oriented information at this and other regional shows, GPN and Syngenta debuted the GPN/Syngenta Educational Symposium at this year’s FarWest Show, August 23-24, 2001. A two-part series on managing greenhouse diseases and pests, the Educational Symposium featured nationally recognized researchers Ann Chase, President of Chase Research Gardens, and James Bethke, Research Associate at the University of California-Riverside.


The idea behind the symposium was to help regional conferences in their quest to offer quality educational programs to their growers. The GPN/Syngenta Educational Symposium brought together researchers and growers in a format conducive to discussion. The three-hour sessions offered time for speakers to present findings from their latest research and for growers to ask questions about problems they were encountering in their greenhouses.


"This is my favorite way to give a talk," said Ann Chase after her session. "I actually have time to interact with the growers; we can go around the room and talk about any problems they might be having or about which chemical works in what situation. Everyone gets something out of a session like this, so it’s nice to do. I think we could have all gone for another three hours," Chase added, laughing.


Each of the two sessions – Thursday afternoon’s focusing on diseases of greenhouse crops and Friday morning’s focusing on pests of greenhouse crops – attracted over 200 attendees, a record for greenhouse sessions at the FarWest.


"We’ve never had this many people in attendance at a greenhouse session," said Ornamental Seminars Northwest Educational Director Jonathon Carr. "We were a little surprised by the number of attendees showing interest in greenhouse crops."


And attendees were equally surprised by the high caliber of information offered at a "nursery" show. Almost an hour after completion of his talk, Jim Bethke had to excuse himself from questioning growers to rejoin his family vacation. "This is really great," said Bethke on his way out. "You don’t usually see this kind of reception at a pest talk."


After its remarkable success in Oregon, the GPN/Syngenta Educational Symposium will be taking to the road next year. Possible 2002 venues include the Southeastern Greenhouse Conference, the New England Greenhouse Conference and the FarWest Show/Ornamentals Northwest Seminars.


  • Bridget White

On August 11, AAS Executive Director Nona Koivula presented the Medallion of Honor to Peter van Zanten, who recently retired from E. Benary Seed Growers, Hann Munden, Germany. The Medallion of Honor is the only award AAS presents to recognize a person’s lifetime of horticultural achievements.


Van Zanten worked in the industry for more than four decades. He significantly influenced AAS winners, as Benary earned 12 awards in the 16 years that van Zanten served as North American sales manager. He was described by Koivula as a "diplomat, ambassador and revered salesman."

Mark Kelley has joined BioSafe Systems as technical grower specialist. Kelley comes to BioSafe after a 10-year stint with W.H. Milikowski Inc., where he served as their head grower and technical advisor. Aside from growing responsibilities, he tested and evaluated greenhouse products, provided crop production advice to customers and spoke at various industry trade shows and educational seminars.


At BioSafe, Kelley will be the in-house technical resource for growers who have questions about the company’s products and their application methods. He will also be able to assist in specifying application systems (chemical injectors, fog systems, metering pumps, etc.) and rates. In addition, Kelley will also coordinate research projects and efficacy testing.

Color Spot Nurseries, Inc., whose plan for financial restructuring appeared in the industry news section of the September issue of GPN, released results for its second quarter ending June 30, 2001. The company reported operating income for the quarter of $11.4 million, up 136 percent from $4.8 million for the comparable period last year.


"We are satisfied that our second quarter and first half results show tremendous improvement over last year," said Dave Barrett, CEO of Color Spot. "This represents good, solid profitability that we can build upon in upcoming years."


The company also announced that it has received preliminary approval from a substantial majority of its bondholders on a plan to materially reduce its debt balance through the conversion of a substantial portion of its senior subordinated notes into preferred stock.


"We are pleased to announce this additional financing agreement," Barrett said. "We’ve communicated to our stakeholders that we are serious about our new strategic direction and that we have a bright future."

MBR acquires


RhizUp inoculants


Becker Underwood, Inc., the leading manufacturer and marketer of Rhizobium inoculants, seed coatings, specialty colorants and other bio-agronomic products, recently acquired the RhizUp brand of inoculants from Eco Soil Systems, Inc. The acquisition includes the RhizUp brand, licenses, labels and all production and marketing rights.


"This acquisition is part of Becker Underwood’s commitment to an aggressive strategy that combines organic growth of internal product development with key acquisitions of companies, technologies and selected brands," said Roger Underwood, Becker Underwood CEO.


In August, 2000, Becker Underwood acquired U.K.-based Micro Bio, Ltd., and MBR in Saskatoon, Canada, and their line of bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides. Today the company specializes in the discovery, scale-up fermentation and formulation of a variety of products based on naturally occurring microorganisms that help maximize yield and protect plants from pests and disease.


Murray Trapp, managing director of MBR in Saskatoon, will also direct the production and marketing of the RhizUp line.

OFA announces award winners, new Web site


The Ohio Florists’ Association (OFA) announced that Kimberly A. Williams, Dean Hesterberg and Paul V. Nelson were named co-recipients of the OFA’s Alex Laurie Award. The award was presented during the OFA Short Course in Columbus, Ohio.


The Alex Laurie Award is presented by the OFA to the author(s) of the most outstanding floriculture research paper published in HortScience or The Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science.


Williams is a professor at Kansas State University, where she teaches upper-level undergraduate courses that are the core curriculum for horticulture majors. Hesterberg is associate professor of soil science at North Carolina State University, where he has been since 1993. Prior to his stint at the university, Hesterberg served as a soil chemist at the Institute for Soil Fertilizer Research in Haren, The Netherlands. Nelson is a professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University, where he currently teaches Plant Nutrition, Greenhouse Management, Plant Propagation and Flower Production.


The association also announced that the OFA home page (www.ofa.org) has a new look and offers more for members and Short Course attendees. "This is a big change from the informational Web site that we used to have to providing a full-service interactive Web page," said Laura Kunkle, OFA’s Web site manager. "This site is just easier to navigate and provides more convenience to our members."


The page will now offer a members-only section, where members will be able to access OFA publications, a list-serve, and eventually a membership directory. In addition, the site will now be secure and will allow Internet-surfers to purchase publications and memberships on-line.

Benlate found to be defective


A jury in Miami found the DuPont fungicide Benlate to be defective and the world’s largest chemical company liable for negligence, fraud and racketeering. The jury ordered DuPont to pay $78.3 million to two Costa Rican growers, Palmas Bambu and Productura de Semillas, for damage to their plants allegedly caused by Benlate. The growers sought $29 million in compensatory damages.


DuPont plans to appeal the decision, calling it an "absurdity." The company has paid out more than $1 billion in Benlate damage claims.

Political spending news


Democrats pushed a $7.48 billion farm bill through the Senate that would cost $2 billion more than the White House planned to spend. Funding approved last week by the Senate Agricultural Committee includes money for conservation programs and favors a wide variety of farm interests. Republicans accused Democrats of provoking a confrontation with President Bush, who may veto the spending bill. The House of Representatives approved an aid package in July totaling $5.5 billion.


In other news, the House Appropriations Agricultural Subcommittee approved a $1 million increase for the USDA-ARS Nursery Floral Research Initiative’s 2002 budget. The Senate’s subcommittee followed by recommending an $800,000 increase. Craig Regelbrugge, American Nursery & Landscape Association senior director of government relations, said he expects the full amount to pass the House. Any increase must be approved by President Bush, who could veto any budget increases.

Briggs elected ANLA president


Gary Briggs, owner and CEO of Briggs Nursery, Olympia, Wash., was elected president of the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA). Election took place at the ANLA Convention & Executive Learning Retreat during the annual Board of Governors meeting in Cleveland, Ohio.


Briggs has served the association as vice president, region IV director and governor and lieutenant governor for the state of Washington. He has also worked as a member of its horticultural standards and water management committees as well as on the Nursery Management Institute development task force. Additionally, Briggs has served as chair of the grades and standards subcommittee. His industry involvement includes service as committee co-chair of the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association’s wholesale committee.


Briggs began working in the family business part-time before becoming co-owner in 1980 and CEO in 1992. He received a B.A. in sociology from the University of Washington. Briggs’ father, the late Bruce Briggs, was inducted to the ANLA Hall of Fame in 1999.

TrueLeaf Technologies acquires GreenLink, LLC


TrueLeaf Technologies has acquired GreenLink, LLC, a specialist in the design and manufacture of recirculating irrigation systems such as ebb-and-flood floors and benches.


"This acquisition bolsters our competency in the areas of water handling and irrigation. [Greenlink’s] Ratus Fischer is the pre-eminent expert on these systems and we’re very proud to have Ratus and his staff join our team," said Jim Rearden, president of TrueLeaf. "We feel now that we can provide growers a level of refinement and integration linking heating, controls and irrigation that does not exist anywhere else."


The GreenLink division of TrueLeaf provides complete consulting and design of recirculating irrigation systems, including all engineering and design, pumping, a wide array of valves, tanks and other water containment materials, as well as cascade filters.


"We cut our teeth on heating with energy-efficient systems," Rearden said. "Designing these systems to the most optimum levels led us to develop our controls and integration department, which has really smoothed our systems delivery. This GreenLink opportunity developed as we kept meeting Ratus on job sites and finding more and more reasons to work together."

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