NEWS on the GROW

May 8, 2003 - 13:18

Compiled by Catherine Evans

PLNA Adopts Invasive Plant Code of Conduct

The Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association (PLNA)
has adopted an Invasive Plant Code of Conduct developed by the American Nursery
and Landscape Association in conjunction with industry representatives and
conservation from across the country. The following is the voluntary code of
conduct:

* Ensure that invasive potential is assessed prior to
introducing and marketing plant species new to North America. Invasive
potential should be assessed by the introducer or qualified experts using
emerging risk assessment methods that consider plant characteristics and prior
observations or experience with the plant elsewhere in the world. Additional
insights may be gained through extensive monitoring on the nursery site prior
to further distribution.

* Work with regional experts and stakeholders to determine
which species in your region are either currently invasive or will become
invasive. Identify plants that could be suitable alternatives in your region.

* Develop and promote alternative plant material through
plant selection and breeding.

* Where agreement has been reached among nursery
association, government, academia, and ecology and conservation organizations,
phase-out existing stocks of those specific invasive species in regions where
they are considered to be a threat.

* Follow all laws on importation and quarantine of plant
materials across political boundaries.

*Encourage customers to use, and garden writers to promote,
non- invasive plants.

In addition to adopting the code, PLNA recently met with
representatives from the Mid-Atlantic Exotic Plant Pest Council to discuss ways
the two groups could join together to address the invasive plant issue in
Pennsylvania.

Gardeners Undisturbed by War

Most American consumers plan to go ahead as usual with their
spring gardening plans despite the war in Iraq.

A survey, conducted by the Garden Writers Association, of
1,002 consumer households discovered more than two-thirds of those surveyed
plan to spend the same or more on plants this spring, even though the country
is at war.

Fifty-five percent said that despite the war, they plan to
spend the same this year on flowers and ornamental plants, while 12 percent said
they plan to spend more. Twenty-one percent plan to spend less on ornamentals.

As for fruits and vegetables, 57 percent of the public plan
to spend the same, 13 percent plan to spend more and 14 percent plan to spend
less.

Flowers will be the top choice at 27 percent of the public
this spring, followed by vegetables and fruits at 24 percent, grass at 18
percent, and trees and shrubs at 11 percent.

However, when asked which type of plant they would spend
more money on this year, 41 percent of the consumers planned to increase their
spending on edibles verses 36 percent who planned to increase their spending on
ornamentals. SAF Heads to Washington

About 120 retailers, wholesalers and growers from 28 states
traveled to Washington, D.C., for the Society of American Florist's (SAF) 23rd
Congressional Action Days March 17-18. Despite the current war with Iraq, more
than 150 Capitol Hill offices welcomed the delegation.

SAF followed six Illinois members as they urged Congress to
support the industry's position on issues such as health-care reform, permanent
estate tax repeal and increased funding for research.

Before taking to the Hill, industry experts prepped members,
while veteran politicians, staff members and analysts provided an insider's
look at politics in the Capitol during a kickoff breakfast and SAF's
congressional reception.

USDA Works on Fire Ant Regulations

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is
proposing to amend current imported fire ant regulations by adding the
insecticide methoprene to the list of approved methods to fight the fire ant
problem.

The imported fire ant is a stinging insect that can be fatal
to livestock, pets and humans.  The
pest feeds on crops and builds mounds that are damaging to farm and field
machinery. Fire ants can be transported outside infested areas in untreated
nursery stock and soil.

The use of methoprene, known as Extinguish, has proven to be
effective in treating fire ant problems. These proposed changes would make
methoprene available for the treatment of containerized plants and field-grown
woody ornamentals within quarantine areas.

NRF Revises Retail Sales Forecast

The recent war with Iraq has prompted the National Retail
Federation (NRF) to revise its 2003 forecast for general merchandise, apparel,
furniture and sporting goods (GAFS) sales. According to the Retail Sales
Outlook Report, NRF has revised the 2003 forecast from 5.6 percent growth in
2003 to 3.8 percent growth.

NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells stated that any
geopolitical uncertainty, namely the war, would affect current retail
projections. "The Iraqi conflict is hindering decisions made by both
businesses and consumers," Wells said. "Not only are businesses
taking a wait-and-see approach before making major financial commitments, they
are reluctant to conduct business as usual, holding back hiring and causing
layoffs of others." However, Wells said consumer spending should
significantly improve once the Iraq conflict is resolved.

NRF projects first quarter GAFS sales to increase slightly
more than 2.0 percent. Second quarter sales are forecasted to increase 2.5
percent, third quarter sales are projected at a 4.7 percent increase and fourth
quarter sales are estimated to increase 5.3 percent from last year.

In other news, the NRF recently conducted a survey that
showed consumers are planning a wide variety of celebrations for Mother's Day.
The NRF 2003 Mother's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey found that
83.2 percent of Americans are planning to celebrate Mother's Day and they plan
to spend an average of $97.37.

The change in 2003 was not much higher than 2001; however,
Mother's Day sales have increased substantially since 2000, when the average
spent was $49.90 for the holiday.

The survey found that consumers will focus on traditional
gifts for their mothers. Consumers buying clothing, gift certificates,
housewares and flowers plan to spend around $30 each for those items.

The study also found that men will spend more money than
women on the holiday, with $113.98, compared to women, who will spend an
average of $81.69. Older consumers lead Mother's Day spending, with the 45- to
64-year-old age group planning to spend an average of $105.

According to SAF, Mother's Day is the second holiday,
Christmas being the first, in the purchase of flowers. Forty-five percent are
expected to be cut flowers, 32 percent will be outdoor bedding and gardening
plants, and 22 percent will be houseplants.

Colorado Drought Update

The Denver Water Board activated Stage 2 in the drought plan
to take effective May 1, 2003.

* Lawn watering is permitted two days each week for 15
minutes.

* There is no watering on Mondays and no watering from 10
a.m. to 6 p.m.

* New seed and sod is discouraged because the water it needs
to survive is not permitted.

* Trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables may only be watered
by a hand-held hose with a shut off valve or low-volume non-spray irrigation on
assigned watering days. However, plants may be "watered in" on the
day of planting but not on Mondays.

The water board will review the restrictions and reservoir
levels at their meetings throughout the summer to consider modification. For
more information, check out the March and April issues of GPN.

EuroAmerican Remodels Web site

EuroAmerican Propagators has redesigned its Web site, making
it easier to access information and new programs. The features include broker
lists with links, real-time product availability that sorts by category, and
ideas for container gardening. Growers, brokers and retailers now have their
choice of 10 hyperlinks: catalog, cultural information, availability, buying
from them, retail support, container gardening ideas, books, Euro news, about
us and contact us.

According to EuroAmerican, so far, the availability and
container gardening feature have gotten the most hits. One click calls up a
list of all EuroAmerican plants, then by clicking on items in the menu,
customers can check on any of 13 subcategories. The availability is updated
throughout the day keeping the information current.

The container gardening ideas feature dozens of designs for
pots, planters and hanging baskets. Visit www.euroamprop.com to see all of the
new features.

Monsanto Investigated for Anti-Trust Practices

Monsanto, producer of Roundup herbicide and biotech company,
is under investigation by the Department of Justice for alleged antitrust
practices in the herbicide industry. The company is saying that it and other
glyphosate producers are fully cooperating with the investigation. Monsanto has
driven up the use of herbicide because of its genetically modified
Roundup-resistant crops including corn, soybeans, cotton and canola.

Kmart Lays Off More Employees

In an attempt to emerge from Chapter 11, Kmart Corporation
has announced the implementation of an anticipated strategic restructuring of
its corporate and headquarters operations by eliminating 660 positions.

As part of the initiative, Kmart has eliminated
approximately 400 positions at corporate headquarters, 123 positions located
nationally that provide corporate support and 137 positions that are currently
open. Kmart stores and distribution centers are not impacted by this
initiative.

Affected associates are eligible for severance, including
health care subsidies and outplacement services, that will assist them with the
career transition.

Upon completion of this initiative, Kmart expects to achieve
a savings of $90 million for the 2003 fiscal year and $150 million annually.

The Endowment Joins Forces with SAF

The American Floral Endowment and Society of American
Florists (SAF) have teamed up to develop a floriculture brochure titled,
"Make People Smile-Grow Your Future in the Floral Industry." The
career brochure gives a brief overview of the industry and leads the reader
through the rewarding career paths available in the floral industry. Careers
are available as commercial growers, floral wholesalers, retail florists,
researchers, botanic garden staff, teachers/professors, hard goods merchants,
importer, sales representatives, wire services and more.

This brochure can be seen by logging onto www.endowment.org
or www.safnow.org, or it can be ordered by contacting the American Floral
Endowment at (618) 692-0045.

Agricultural Assistance Act Deadline

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary has announced sign-up dates
from Agricultural Assistance Act programs for 2003. The crop disaster
assistance program will reimburse producers of crops that qualify for crop
losses in 2001 or 2002. It will begin June 6 with payments coming soon after.
The crop payments have to be calculated using the same formula used in the 2000
crop year, meaning 2001-02 crop losses will be valued using the price election
for Actual Production History crop insurance policies. If that method is not
available, then a five-year average will be used.

Flower Fields Goes Live

The Flower Fields has introduced a new Web-based capability
for on-line availability, ordering, sourcing and variety information for all
1,500 of The Flower Fields varieties. The new e-commerce site, dubbed The
Flower Fields Portal, links directly into each partner's sales order systems,
offering both ease of use and real time updates to facilitate ordering The
Flower Fields products. 

Accessible through the commercial growers section of the
brand's Web site, www.theflowerfields.com, the Portal, designed with both
brokers and growers in mind, will allow brokers to easily check availability
and place orders for products from all four partners -- Fischer, Goldsmith,
Ecke and Yoder -- around the clock, seven days a week. Authorized brokers place
orders online and receive hard-copy confirmation of their order from each
partner company. The Portal will also allow growers to be an active part of the
ordering process by enabling them to check availability while placing orders
and to immediately select substitutes when necessary.

In addition to checking availability and placing orders,
users can obtain detailed product and cultural information through the Portal's
advanced search, an upgrade of the former "Grower Search." Searches
can be made using multiple criteria, including crop name, botanical name,
color, habit, container application, garden setting and selling/finishing
season.

Each of the variety results links to "Growing
Guidelines," printable culture sheets written by The Flower Fields
technical assistance staff. The Portal also offers a "Quick Order"
option, giving users the ability to place orders for multiple varieties on
multiple ship dates.

The Flowers Fields Portal utilizes 128bit SSL encryption,
providing a secure transmission of all customer and order information and
assuring confidentiality. Access is available to authorized users only, which
is currently limited to S&G Flowers and Yoder Brothers brokers.

The Flower Fields will continue to rollout the new portal system
in 2003-04, with automatic transfers of order information tested and refined by
S&G Flowers and Yoder Brothers. In 2005, on-line ordering and automatic
transfers will be available to additional authorized brokers. (Registration
information will be sent out in advance.) Until then, other brokers can still
use the Portal to gauge availability.

-- Bridget White

SNA Gears Up for Showcase Event

The Southeast Greenhouse Conference is joining forces with
the Southern Nursery Association (SNA) and Ohio Florists' Association to create
ColorWorld, a new section of the SNA trade show featuring approximately 8,000
sq.ft. dedicated to floriculture products for the retail and landscape trade,
with new flower varieties and displays. The major objective of ColorWorld is to
promote finished color products and assist growers in expanding sales to retail
and landscape segments.

SNA has also announced the 48th annual SNA Research
Conference will feature a new Floriculture section to the SNA trade show. Last
year's addition of a Plant Breeding & Evaluation section was such a
success, SNA decided to add the Floriculture section to this year's schedule.

The 9th annual TechShop Educational Series, will be held in
conjunction with the SNA trade show, and has been expanded to include a
landscape and current issues track. The TechShop Educational Series will
precede the SNA trade show on Wednesday, July 30. TechShop 2003 will offer a
total of eight concurrent tracks (business management, sales and marketing,
woody plants, annuals and perennials, retail, landscape, current issues: water,
and technical and certification) with a total of 40 topics. New this year,
special selections of presentations made at the SNA Research Conference will be
incorporated into TechShop's Educational Series. All of these events and more
will be held at SNA 2003... The World's Showcase of Horticulture July 30-August
2, 2003, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga.

ANLA Develops New Energy Program

ANLA has recently announced a new member benefit program
that can help reduce energy costs. Through the Energy Buyers Program,
Affiliated Power Purchasers International, LLC (APPI), an independent
energy-consulting firm, will be assisting industrial and commercial businesses
by finding solutions to current energy issues and ways to reduce utility costs.
APPI will assist members with their electricity and natural gas needs, as well
as utility advisory assistance, bill auditing and demand-side services. Members
usage data is monitored, allowing the APPI to better help businesses reduce
energy costs. 

AAS Winners and Wal-Mart Team-up

Beginning this spring, more than 75 All-American Selection
(AAS) Winners will be promoted by Wal-Mart. After a year of planning, the two
have come up with a promotion that includes containers featuring the red, white
and blue AAS logo and slogan, "Tested Nationally & Proven
Locally" as well as special AAS plant labels with the American flag and
the AAS logo to inform gardeners about AAS plants. Advertising for the program
began in early spring and will continue through the peak season. This special
promotion was created due to the importance of the AAS trialing program and the
performance of its winners.  

Floriculture Field Days Brings May Flowers

The 2003 Floriculture Field Days to be held May 20-22, in
Gainesville, Fla., will focus on crops from the FloraStar national trials of
calibrachoa, angelonia and double impatiens; Scott's MiracleGro plants;
comparisons of double vegetative petunias, argyranthemum, alocasia, colocasia
and xanthosoma, verbena, perennial salvia, banana, cacti and succulents. The
field trials will feature more than 300 annuals and perennials.

The event includes a number of educational programs from
many guest speakers on perennials, tropicals, vegetative annuals, landscapes,
management issues, common plant diseases and more. Some speakers include GPN
columnists Dr. Roger Styer and Dr. Rick Schoellhorn (Field Day Coordinator) and
GPN consulting editor Dr. Jim Barrett. Included in the event is a silent
auction of unusual seeds, plugs and potted plants with proceeds going to the
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.

During the Field Days, numerous nurseries in the Gainesville
area will be opening their doors for informal tours on Tuesday and Thursday
afternoons. The event is sponsored by University of Florida and North Florida
Flowering Plant Producers. For more information go to http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu
or contact Rick Schoellhorn at rksch@ufl.edu.

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