What Caught Our Eye This Week

Posted by Suzanne McKee on Sep 23, 2016 4:28:15 PM

Here's our recap of what was interesting and impactful in the world of hort this week.  

SoftwareDevelopment.jpgGreenhouse Growers Tackling Software Needs Head-On
As seen in Greenhouse Grower by Brian Sparks

Gary's View: The first thing I did as President of Fischer USA was throw out the old and install completely custom built software to ensure reliability of inventory and improve user ease. The complexities of farm production (5 farms all linked, cutting indexes, shipping and government regulations), 4 Sales offices Worldwide, Rooting Stations (production orders, verifications and shipping), multiple US Broker sales to a single ship to (volume pricing for the ship to), direct sales in Europe and drop shipping of tags (to achieve zero inventory) to name a few gave us no option for off the shelf software in 1995.

The result was an easy to use, flexible system with 99.9% reliability to our customer. However, today there are multiple companies with specific use software for our industry that have good inventory control features giving companies many more options than what we had 20 years ago. Just keep in mind that it is not good enough to install new software and think it will take care of itself. The key is constant diligence with your master data to achieve your goal. At Fischer we often said inventory is number one and quality is number two. If I had to choose again the choice would still be custom built software so you can have a defensible competitive advantage over your competition.

UF/IFAS study: teaching children to garden promotes healthy diets
As seen in Nursery Management (Press Release)

Suzanne's View: As a mom of two young children who keeps the book The Picky Eating Solution close to me at all times, this struck close to home. We have a garden, and the kids love it during planting time, what I need to do is get creative about keeping them involved with it during the rest of the season too. So far it hasn't turned my kids into vegetable eating machines but a mom can be hopeful. (As a marketer in the industry...this screams opportunity to me.)

Bromeliads As The Bad Guys
As seen in Green Profit by Ellen Wells

Gary's View: As individuals, as a community and as a Nation we struggle most of the time to find middle ground. My reaction to what Florida officials are doing regarding Bromeliads being a breeding ground for the Zika mosquito (Aedes aegypfi) is a case in point of over reacting. Their answer seems to be to rip out all Bromeliads in South Florida without apparently investigating other solutions. Without a doubt this headline has put fear into many Florida residents. While they are at it why not consider draining all of the lakes, ponds and puddles?

Farm Bureau urges caution on ag mergers
As seen in Morning AgClips by The American Farm Bureau

Suzanne's View: I can't add much more to this than the experts already have but it is something that we all need to as individuals and as active participants in the horticultural and agricultural industries need to stay on top of. As noted by the American Farm Bureau, nothing will hurt our industry more than the loss of innovation and technology, add to that the potential for higher prices and we could have some big issues on our hands. As noted by NPR's Chemical Giant Bayer Agrees to Buy Monsant for $66 Billion there is a 50/50 chance of the Bayer-Monsanto deal going through so it is worth our time to keep our eye on what happens. 

The Top Young Plant Growers, And Four Critical Challenges Facing Them.
As seen in Greenhouse Grower by Laura Drotleff

Gary's View: Of the 20 listed Young Plant Growers listed only three are primarily young plant producers; C. Raker and Sons, Cal Seedling and Plug Connection. Full young plant production at peak season creates lots of revenue but under-utilized space in off peak quickly eats into profits. Raker and Plug Connection constantly look for alternative crops and markets while avoiding finished production. With some of the producers their primary business is vegetable transplants and floriculture crops are secondary. The bulk of those listed spread their energy and labor costs over young plants and finished.

Quality of their products in large part depends on their suppliers of seeds and cuttings. You have all heard the saying “It’s hard to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.

There will be continuous pressure on reducing use of chemicals and increased use of biocontrols and integrated pest management. In Europe, products cannot get on the shelf if they have levels of chemical residue. Neonics are not the only issue.

What we are missing here, in the US, is a better system for perishable distribution, it’s not just the cost of shipping FedEx and UPS but dealing with all of the packaging at the receiving end. With a system where multiple producers could utilize the services of one consolidated perishable truck service producers and customers alike would win. It does exist in some areas like the west coast but an expanded version would benefit the entire industry.

Gaining Insight in the Gardener's Mind
As seen in GPN by Mason Day

Suzanne's View: What really caught my eye on this one was the suggestion to redesign how most typical garden centers sell to consumers. Even as someone in the industry (not with a hort or ag background mind you but actively in the industry) I find it very overwhelming to visit most garden centers. I know where I want my plants and the function I need them to serve but simultaneously I make very spur of the moment decisions at the store based on how things look and how they look together. If a garden center could start displaying items in a way that I could seamlessly know where to put them and what conditions they will thrive in while at the same time appealling to my visual senses it would be a win everytime. People want to succeed in their garden but there are also a million other things going on in their lives, as an industry we need to make it easier for them to have fun and feel good about their gardens.

The other point that stood out to me in GrowIt's! review was about pineapples. I love pineapples but this isn't why it caught my eye. It is because this could be replicated with almost any other product line you carry. Per my thoughts above on helping people to be successful DIY tutorials are a great way to engage with customers. This doesn't have to be for just the retailers either. Retailers should be leaning on all of the experts throughout the supply chain to expose consumers to the industry and get them excited about it. I think many consumers would love a DIY tutorial from the breeders themselves. If we find more ways as an industry to work together, all boats rise. 

That's a sample of what we found newsworthy and interesting. We'd love to hear about what caught your eye too. 

Topics: Professional Greenhouse Grower, Retail Garden Center, What Caught Our Eye

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