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UGA Floriculture Newsletter – Feb. 2012 Edition

Paul Thomas, UGA Extension Floriculture Specialist

One of the realities we face in this economy is that growers can’t afford to travel long distances to go to programs, as was evident at the 2012 Wintergreen Show.  We put on a full-day program for growers, but had only 28 people show up.  18-Landscape Professionals, 6-Garden Center Operators, and only 3-Greenhouse Production companies represented.  The speakers were excellent and free plants were given out.    After a discussion with folks at out Floriculture Division meeting, we decided to try to improve engagement by resurrecting an old approach used in the 1980’s and 1990’s … before the Southeast Greenhouse Conference was born.  Beginning this Fall, the Floriculture Division of the GGIA will host several  “Greenhouse Gatherings. ” These are short, one-day/with dinner programs at someone’s greenhouse/nursery.   Flintwood  Farms, Goodness Grows, and several other greenhouse firms have had such open houses in the last year with great success.  The host invited their customers and their neighbor-growers to attend, share dinner and network.   The programs will be theme based.  One of our first will be as follows:

Greenhouse Gatherings #1  Theme:  Going Digital! 

How to Make a useful Facebook page for Business

Making and Using QRM’s

Low Cost-Basic Digital Photo Enhancement for Making Ads.

Update:  Current Production Information Websites – Industry and University

Pesticide re-certification credit talks

Goodness Grows’s Rick Berry has volunteered to host the first gathering in Chapter 2 (Athens Region).  Times and dates will be posted in this newsletter, and through the host growers contacts.

If you would like to host a greenhouse gathering in Fall 2012, or Spring 2013, please contact Paul Thomas at 706-542-9047.  First come, first hosted!

Potential  OFA Partnership

We are in the discussion phases of joining with OFA to host a three state grower meeting focused on increasing profits.  A trade show with only “talk-specific” offerings would be hosted also.  The idea is if we present a talk on saving electricity via LED’s, an LED lighting representative in a booth to show you the numbers and sell product.  This worked well in Spring, 2011 for North Carolina and Virginia.  If you like the idea of a grower-focused business program, let your GGIA Floriculture leadership know.  The program would likely be held near Dalton, GA to host TN and Alabama growers too.  Have ideas for talks?  Comments? Concerns?  Now is the time to share these with your chapter leadership!

SourceGeorgia: Growers….Post Inventories this Spring starting Feb 15! 

Given the shorter selling season predicted, (see below) it is critical that your inventories and products requests are known.  In order to connect buyer and seller, we implemented a joint GGIA/Urban Ag Council approved Facebook page last Fall.  It was established to allow you to post plant source requests and links to inventories for FREE!  The inventory posting service is limited to Georgia growers.  Requests are open to the world. Beginning February 15, 2012, we are going to really push the landscapers and garden center owners to post their short and long term needs for plants.  The only way this will help growers is if they POST their Inventory links.  Just put your availability sheets on an easily obtained  Google website and link that site to the Facebook post!  It’s ALL FREE!  We have over 350 recipients of this newsletter, over 70 are growers.  If you want to sell more plants, or if you need plants on short notice, or you can’t find a plant you really need to keep a client happy, use SourceGeorgia.  It’s Free!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/SourceGeorgia-Ornamentals/196258363731202

Greenhouse Plastic Recycling

The GGIA has a wonderful program for its members that allows for a reasonable way to recycle plastics used in horticulture.  The program is co-sponsored by Griffin Greenhouse and Nursery Supplies, Inc.  You can recycle pots, trays, inserts and large plastic planters made of High density Polyethylene  (Stamped as  HDPE #2).  Griffin will even pick them up for you if you follow the programs guidelines for preparing the plastic pots, such as removing soil, nesting the pots, and keeping pallets of the recycled pots under 84.”   Given the problems associated with allowing piles of pots to accumulate, this is a great way to eliminate the issue.

For more information, contact Bill Hotz at 610-913-3042

La Nina – Significant Drought Predicted

Last but not least, it has been widely reported that we are going through a significant La Nina event this summer.  According to David Stooksbury’s recent comments, (he is still a climatologist at UGA in the College of Ag.) we can expect a long, hot, dry summer.   We are already experiencing a very warm winter, so pray for rain this month and next, and begin to prepare to focus your market on the early sales this year.  Sell your water hogs such as New Guinea impatiens early!  Have a NG sale early to get them off your books by May 1.   If you do have plans to sell products into June, you may want to shift inventory  to heat and very drought tolerant annuals  such as Vinca, Lantana and perennials such as Lantana Miss Huff, Mexican petunia, Salvia gauranitica, etc.   Be sure to begin to harden off plants before the heat come on…watch that watering in the garden centers, push mulch sales and seriously look at doubling marketing impact early in March through mid-April…Targeted market strategies work.   Intensifying advertising in March may be your best opportunity to move plants.  By May, the show may be over.

Feel free to pass this newsletter around.   If you are not on our mailing list, please simply contact me at pathomas@uga.edu.  We would be happy to incude you!  As always, simply respond to this e-mail if you have suggestions or comments.