Easter Weekend Strong; Some Learning Opportunities; How Many is 12.5 Billion?

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Chris Beytes Subscribe
Acres Online
How was Easter? Pretty good!
- Compared to previous years
- A few comments
- Easter down under
A bit more from Jolly Olde
Veggie LED webinar is now!
Academy of Crop Production
Greenhouse 101 by UF
Finally ...

How was Easter? Pretty great!

If the people who make calendars would ask our opinions, we’d tell them to schedule Easter late rather than early, when the weather has a better chance of being garden-friendly. Last year’s March 27 Easter date resulted in sales scores of 6.6, and 7.1 in Canada. This year’s results with an April 16 Easter? 8.2 and 7.1.

Canada would have scored higher, I suspect, had conditions not been marginal (5.5) in British Columbia, where many of my Canadian scores come from. Alberta also averaged 5.5. (In comparison, my lone Ontario correspondent this week rated the weekend a whopping 9.5.)

All of that is based on 78 scores from 41 states and four provinces.

Here’s the map:


Note that I didn't get a single score from the Upper Midwest (all those white areas). I guess things are so bad nobody wanted to tell me about it. Or else they're so good, folks are too busy to reply!

Compared to previous years

Granted, the equivalent weekend last year (April 16-17) scored 8.2/8.3. So it’s much less about the holiday than the weather, I suspect. (I’m sure that if it had been rainy or cold, Easter wouldn’t have saved your sales.)

Curious, I looked back at previous Easter weekends to see when they fell and how they scored:

2015 (April 4-5) - 7.1/5.3
2014 (April 19-20) -  7.4/6.2
2013 (No survey)
2012 (April 7-8) - 7.1/6.9

So you can see that the late Easter of 2014 didn’t match this year’s, no doubt due to weather.

Regionally, the South remains solid, scoring 9.3, with straight 10s from Alabama, 9.5 from North Carolina and 9.5 from Texas. Virginia was just behind at 9.3. Some spots that did exceptionally well for mid-April include New York, which sent in six scores averaging 8.3, and Ohio, which also averaged 8.3 on four scores. Michigan was good, if not a bit rangy, at 9, 8 and 7, for an 8.0 average.

New England even managed 7.4 in spite of some some low scores, including a 3 from Massachusetts and a 3.5 from Connecticut. The weather was a 10, even if some retailers still haven’t opened for business.

Colorado sent a pair of perfect 10s, with one greenhouse calling it “One of the best April weekends I can ever remember.” Illinois scored a 10 and a 9. Kansas scored two 10s and a nine.

The mega growers did well. Abe Van Wingerden of Metrolina, who shares scores from all the states they serve, reported, “Best April weekend in our history due to strong Good Friday.”

Overall, you sent in 16 10s (21%)—not bad, but hardly into Mother's Day territory. Scores were more in the 7-9 range—still good for this time of year.

A few comments

Chuck Lehotsky of Chuck’s Greenhouse in Ohio rated the weekend a 7:

“Church sales were through the roof. Best Easter ever! Retail was decent; would have been better had we not run out of tulips and hyacinths. Could have probably sold a bunch of spring plants (including vegetable plants), but insisted that it was too early in Northeast Ohio to be putting things outside.”

Fiona Brinks of Bordine’s Nursery in Michigan gave it a 9:

“I think everyone must have had a great Easter when you compare Easter 2017 to the very early Easter in 2016. We sold no nursery product or perennials in 2016 but this year with the warm weather, we sold everything. Even patio furniture was hot!”

J.D. Boone of Dothan Nurseries in Alabama scored it a solid 10:

“Friday was crazy, busiest Friday ever. Saturday was really good, too. Combination of both days makes it a 10. People were walking out with carts full of hanging baskets and 10-in. pots to decorate for Easter.”

Sedan Floral’s Kathy Cude gave her state of Kansas a 10, too:

“So far, spring is off to a great start. It started three weeks early and hasn’t slowed down.”

From Down Under

While his score didn’t make my spreadsheet, Scott Franklin of mega-grower Pohlman’s of Queensland, Australia, gave Easter an 8 out of 10, reporting “Cracking weather.” Pohlman’s is one of Australia’s premier growers; they also have their own retail.

Scott, National Sales Manager for the company, reports strong sales after a long, hot summer with no rain, and then a late cyclone that gave them plenty of rain. Says Scott, “Gardens either died in the extreme heat over summer or washed away after cyclone, and so the gardeners came out last weekend for Easter and went crazy.”

He says vegetable sales are going well and seeing good growth, especially their in-house heirloom brand “diggers” vegetables. Also anything with “colour”: dahlias, garden mums, pot mums, celosia Intenz, cyclamen, and his “favourite” plant, Sunpatiens!

Scott and the Pohlman crew spend quite a bit of time in the U.S.; I generally run into them at every Spring Trials. Scott says they were inspired by Costa Farms to do their own in-house flower trialing, to test new varieties in Southeast Queensland conditions. This will be their fourth year of opening the trials to their customers.

A bit more from Jolly Olde

Last week, I ran a brief report about how spring was breaking in the UK (very well, thank you). My friend Graham Spencer, from plant breeders' agent Plants for Europe Limited, sent in an addendum that mentions “a fly in the ointment”:

“It is true that we are having an early season and it is going full speed. There has even been talk of plant shortages, which may be a good thing. But there is always a fly in the ointment—in the southeast, we are very short of rain, with rainfall substantially below average over the winter. Reservoirs local to us are really low for April.

“The water companies say that there will be no water supply restrictions this year (i.e. hose and sprinkler bans) but may be for next year unless we get rain this summer and autumn. I have spoken with growers who are already irrigating crops twice per day (unusual for April) and I always believe that drought is worse than flooding (thinking of the people in Colombia and New Zealand this week) because the area impacted is greater.

“So, I’m hoping for a continued good year, perhaps with a little more rain (ideally steady gentle rain overnight on a Wednesday … where can I place my order?).”

Drought? In England? Egad! Well, at least you have a member of the Commonwealth, Australia, which has an abundance of experience with drought.

Don’t forget our webinar on growing veggies under LEDs

If you’re reading this before Noon Central time on Wednesday, April 19, you’ve still got time to attend the webinar I’m hosting today for Philips Horticultural Lighting, in which their experts, Doug Marlow and Erik Shappers, will tell you all you need to know about the science and economics of growing edible crops under LEDs. The one-hour webinar is free!

Sign up at www.ballpublishing.com/webinars.

If you missed it, worry not: you can go to the same link and find the archive.

UGA’s Academy of Crop Production

Registration is now open for the 2017 Academy of Crop Production, slated for June 18-21 at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.

Brought to you by ag chemical distributor Harrell’s, Inc. and UGA Cooperative Extension, the Academy of Crop Production is an educational program that organizers call “an alternative to the typical large and expensive trade show format.” The goal is to have mainstream expert speakers, relevant topics, and ample discussion and interaction time without the confusion and schedule issues of a large, spread-out event site.

The three-day event kicks off Sunday, June 18, with an evening reception. The Monday sessions (just one track, so you don’t have to pick and choose whom to hear) will have a floriculture focus. Topics include pollinator plants, plant nutrition, biological controls, greenhouse vegetables, hydroponics and consumer research.

Tuesday starts with a UGA Trial Gardens tour, then sees a transition from floriculture to nursery crops, with topics such as weed management, breeding technology, water recycling, fungicide resistance and more. Speakers are a who’s who of horticulture, including Dr. Charlie Hall, Dr. Jim Barrett, Dr. Peter Konjoian, Dr. Ray Cloyd, Dr. Bridget Behe, Dr. Joe Neal and many more.

It’s planned to be a family friend event, too, with pool and zoo passes. The event is said to be “very much like a traditional state grower’s meeting, only with fantastic national speakers!”

Want to see the full schedule? Click HERE. Or for more information, email Dr. Paul Thomas, pathomas@uga.edu.

Plan early and don’t forget to book your hotel.

Greenhouse 101 class and more from UF

The UGA event above has some great-sounding, in-depth classes. But what if you’ve got an employee or laborer who has no formal training but would like to expand his or her knowledge? You’re in luck, thanks to the University of Florida (my alma mater).

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is offering an online course series that starts with Greenhouse 101 (June 19-July 14) and proceeds on to more advanced topics: Nutrient Management 1 and 2, Weed Management, and Costing and Profitability. Cost is just $199 per class, and as I said, they can all be completed online. Best of all, they’re available in Spanish, too!

To register, go to http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training. Or shoot an email to greenhousetraining@ifas.ufl.edu to get more info.

Finally ...

Curious how many flowers and plants go through the big Dutch auction, Royal FloraHolland? Eleven figures-worth—12,500,000,000—that’s 12.5 billion, worth almost $5 billion. That’s through four auction sites, plus the online auction.

How many flowers and plants is that? Well, figure some flowers are 3 ft. tall, and some plants are only a few inches high … but if they average a foot tall, and if you laid them all end to end, they would stretch ... (carry the one) ... a whopping 2.36 million miles!

How far is 2.36 million miles? That’s the equivalent of 12.7 million Eiffel towers standing on top of one another. Or 12.5 billion flowers and plants laid end to end.

In other words, that’s a lot of flowers and plants!

See you next time!

Chris sig

Chris Beytes
GrowerTalks and Green Profit

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