River Ridge, Darwin Day Video, AAS Winners, Yogurt and "Genuineness"

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Chris Beytes Subscribe
Acres Online
River Ridge recap
Spring 2017 compared to ...
Darwin Day video on YouTube
Three AAS winners for '18
New Plants webinar Thursday
Three more GE petunias on list
How Yoplait found authenticity
PPA Symposium in Denver
Finally ...

River Ridge Recap

Gardening in my neighborhood, River Ridge, is down to 58% of residents, from 60% last year and a high of 70% in 2006 (the second year of my survey). That’s the headline from the Spring 2017 River Ridge Report, which I just published in a special edition Acres Online.

As I study the data, it’s not all bad news. First, a 2% decline only amounts to seven fewer homes showing signs of gardening. That could be a seasonal swing based on nothing more than weather (which was fair but not great) or micro economics for those homeowners.

Second, those who are gardening are still doing it vigorously. All three categories—hanging baskets, pots and plants in the ground—were up slightly from the previous two or three years, showing that more people were doing more kinds of gardening. Container use was especially high, to 80% of those who garden. That’s above the 10-year average, too.

Read the full report HERE. It incudes some pictures of my neighbors’ front yards, both good (like above) and not so good.

How spring 2017 compared to previous seasons

Last time, I summarized my 2017 Weekend Sales Survey and let you know that this season came in at 7.0 in the U.S. and 6.9 in Canada. What I neglected to tell you was how that compares to previous seasons. Here’s a four-year history:

2016: 7.1/7.6
2015: 6.9/6.9
2014: 6.7/6.5
2013: (No full-season survey)
2012: 6.9/7.0

You can see that, at 7.0/6.9, both countries were pretty much right at normal for 2017. Canada enjoyed an extra-good 2016, after a pair of so-so years.

Darwin Day video is on YouTube

Ball’s Darwin Perennial Day was held June 21, and as always, Jen Zurko and I produced a short video of the event, just to give you a taste of what went on. I finally got it finished and posted to the GrowerTalks YouTube channel; you can watch it HERE, or click the image above.

We covered some of the new perennials, and also got perennial expert Karl Batschke to explain a bit about the various perennial salvias and dianthus on the market. It’s getting to be a big event in the perennial world; if you want to check out the 2018 edition, mark your calendar for Wednesday, June 20 (at least that’s my guess of when they’ll hold it, since it always seems to be the third Wednesday of June).

AAS announces first winners for 2018

Just when my vegetable garden gets ready to start producing, I find some more varieties I need to try, courtesy of All-America Selections. They just announced three national award winners for 2018: a flower winner and two edible-vegetable winners. They are:

Ornamental Pepper Onyx Red
AAS writes that good breeding “has resulted in an unprecedented compact, well-branched ornamental pepper adorned with eye-catching dark black foliage. The contrast between the diminutive black foliage and tons of shiny red fruits is striking and makes a bold statement in the garden. Plants are vigorous, continually growing but retain their neat, compact habit, making Onyx Red a wonderful plant for beds, borders, containers and dramatic mass plantings. Naturally compact plants are perfect for a potted plant program, as well as for an annual bedding plan where earliness and retail readiness are important factors.” Bred by Takii & Co.

Tomato Red Racer
Red Racer, a cocktail size tomato, produced small, uniform fruits with great taste in the AAS Trials. Cocktail tomatoes have a good sweet/acid balance and are a smaller variety tomato (although larger than cherry or grape tomatoes). These tomatoes are uniform in size and mature as a cluster of fruits. The compact determinate plants produced a huge yield 7-10 days earlier than the comparisons and are ideal for small space and container gardens. One judge summed up this winner saying, “Red Racer is small in size but big in taste!” Bred by Earthwork Seeds.

Sweet Corn American Dream
American Dream comes from the same company, Illinois Foundation Seeds, that introduced Honey ‘N Pearl, an AAS winner from 1988. In a tight trial, American Dream was pitted against Honey ‘N Pearl and came through as the winner. With its excellent germination and tender, super sweet kernels, this corn variety will make a great addition to the home garden. American Dream matures slightly earlier than the comparisons and produces vigorous, healthy plants with cobs that have good tip fill of bi-colored kernels. Plants grow 6 to 7 ft. tall and mature in 77 days after planting. Enjoy fresh, roasted, grilled, canned or frozen. Bred by Illinois Foundation Seeds.

New Plants Part II webinar Thursday

Don’t miss our second New Plants webinar, which will recap highlights from the northern portion of the California Spring Trials. The plural “our” means me and Ellen Wells, my fellow Spring Trials veteran and bobblehead. Ellen and I will cover at least 100 new varieties from several dozen companies, including Proven Winners, Syngenta, Danziger, Benary, Sakata, Takii and many more. We’ll show you great new annuals, perennials, succulents, potted plants, POP and display ideas.

The webinar will be Thursday, July 13, at 1 p.m. Eastern/Noon Central.

Sign up at www.ballpublishing.com/webinars. (You can watch the archived version of Part I at the same website. Just scroll down a bit.)

Special thanks to our sponsor, PanAmerican Seed, who helps put the “free” in free webinar.

Three more petunias added to USDA no-sell list

I check with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website regularly to see if there’s been any  updates to the genetically engineered petunia issue. There has been, as of June 28, when USDA added three more petunias to the list:

- Petunia Good and Plenty Red 2016
- Petunia Good and Plenty Orange 2016
- Petunia Good and Plenty Pomegranate 2016

That makes 65 petunias or mixes that contain petunias—varieties that, unless the breeder finds a way to remove the corn gene or otherwise create the color without it, we will never see on the market again. Such a pity. But such are the rules governing genetic engineering in the U.S. and around the world. And the cost to get USDA to deregulate the listed varieties would be far too high to justify—especially considering that breeders would have to go through the deregulation process in every country they want to produce or sell in.

You can read and keep up with all the USDA news and developments HERE.

Yoplait finds success in authenticity … sort of

I love marketing success stories. After all, you don’t make money growing plants, you make money SELLING plants. And the better you can market, the more you can sell.

HERE'S A STORY from The New York Times about yogurt giant Yoplait and how they have been battling the Greek yogurt newcomers like Chobani, who have taken market share from traditional yogurt in a big way.

First, Yoplait (part of General Mills) did what it always does: analyzed the research, data and cold, hard numbers to come up with a new brand—which they determined should be called Yoplait Greek.

It bombed.

Yoplait regrouped. Data didn't work, so Yoplait went in a completely new direction for them: storytelling. They realized that consumers want to buy a product that they feel is authentic and genuine, which translates to cool. Like Chobani, which was founded by an immigrant using a timeworn recipe, with a name that’s a bit hard to pronounce. Chobani is genuine, and General Mills needed to figure out how to “manufacture genuineness.” Which they did, with their new French-style yogurt, “Oui.”

It’s pretty fascinating, and applies well to our industry. After all, our products ARE genuine. We just need to package them and tell their stories in a way that gets folks excited.

Because if we can’t be more exciting than yogurt … well, why are we even doing this?

Perennial Plant Symposium in Denver July 23-28

If you’re into perennials (and who isn’t), consider heading to Denver in a couple weeks for the 35th(!) annual Perennial Plant Association Symposium and Trade Show, July 23-28. The mountain setting should make for some interesting tour stops and a chance to study perennials in a mile-high, high-light, deep-snow climate.

The 2017 symposium will bring together western region experts like world-famous rock garden guru Panayoti Kelaidis, steppe specialist Michael Bone, and western garden design expert Lauren Springer Ogden to share dry garden techniques, which are pertinent to gardeners across the country who face rising pressures to use water more responsibly.

The controversial, yet undeniable, cannabis and hemp industries will be discussed with local experts Duane Sinning and Kerrie Badertscher. Attendees will also hear from PPA veterans like Stephanie Cohen, Tony Avent, Brent Heath and Paul Pilon, as well as some new voices in the industry, including Shannon Currey, Joseph Tychonovich and Brie Arthur.

In addition to a packed lecture schedule and trade show, the symposium includes a robust selection of tours of some of the most highly regarded perennial growers and retailers in the area like Gulley Greenhouse, Center Greenhouse, Welby Gardens, Tagawa Nursery and Nick’s Garden Center and Farm Market, among many others.

Denver is famous for its botanic gardens. PPA symposium attendees will have the unique opportunity to visit both campuses of the Denver Botanic Garden and enjoy a special dinner in the gardens one memorable evening. Additional opportunities will include tours of the private gardens of Panayoti Kelaidis, Rob Proctor, Lucette Larkin, and Rod Haenni. The symposium will conclude with an optional, yet once-in-a-lifetime, day trip to Vail to visit the spectacular Betty Ford Alpine Garden and enjoy an alpine walk with fellow hortiholics including Panayoti and other regional experts.

Learn more about this year’s Perennial Plant Symposium and register online at www.ppadenver.com.

Finally …

I’ve got a bit more writing to do this week, and the New Varieties Webinar with Ellen on Thursday, and then I’m off to Columbus, Ohio, on Friday to start the setup of the big Ball Publishing booth in preparation for Cultivate’17 at the newly renovated Columbus Convention Center. GrowerTalks/Green Profit has a new location this year: Booth 2403. It’s right at the front and center of the hall between aisles 2400 and 2500—you won’t be able to miss us! Swing by and say hello and tell me and the other editors what’s going on in the real world.

Hope to see you there!

Chris sig

Chris Beytes
GrowerTalks and Green Profit

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