May 1st is here. There is still some planting going on, but the majority of the work in wholesale is moving plants. Plants have been getting moved from planting lines to benches to houses and finally outside. Even once set down in a house, they often get moved once or twice – as some things ship out, and small spaces open in various areas, plants get moved to consolidate and create larger open spaces – only to be filled within 30 minutes by another set of plants.
Another significant group of plants getting moved around are all the tropicals. Over the past 4 weeks, at least 7 trucks (large 18-wheelers) have arrived loaded with tropical plants from Florida. Each time a truck arrives, the crew first has to move anything and everything out of the loading dock to make room for the new material. Then the truck gets unloaded. These plants do not arrive in boxes, on carts, or on pallets that can be rolled off the trucks. Every plant in a pot larger than 6 inches has to be carried off the truck manually – one at a time. It can take hours with many people helping to get everything off a truck. And then each item needs to have the brown paper wrap removed to identify the plant and get a label on It. At first, the plants are packed tightly together to make sure everything gets off the truck. Then the plants get moved again to be spread out. And many get moved again to be placed outside before the next truck arrives.
This is a prime example of why teamwork and communication are important in any operation, and our team is one of the best.
Summer is officially coming to a close and we’re full speed ahead with fall and winter plantings! Just a quick overview of what we’ve been planting so far of the past few weeks:
But the big fun is just getting started. Over the next four weeks, more than 1.1 million pansy/viola plugs will ship in for us to plant into 4-inch and 6-inch pots. We will ease into the chaos with just 132,720 plants arriving for planting into 4-inch pots and 804s first, and many more to follow.
Last Tuesday morning, the big “pansy field” next to our greenhouse was empty. But by the end of the day Friday it was packed with over 8,000 trays of pansy and viola pots. Almost 190,000 plants were planted into 6-inch pots, set on carts, moved to the field, and set down one at a time. This morning the crew will start on the 99,000 plants scheduled to plant into the 4-inch pots.
During this time, our team has pinched back every single poinsettia plant in the 10-inch and 8-inch pots. The 10-inch pots have 4 plants each and the 8-inch pots have 3 plants each. With 2,000 10-inch pots and 2,200 8-inch pots, that means they pinched 14,600 plants. And then they proceeded to start planting some fall combo plants to ship to stores in time for the Labor Day Weekend.
Our first crop of Sunflowers made it to the stores for this weekend. We expect to have a new crop each of the next 3 weeks. A few mums are starting to crack open, but most won’t be ready for a few weeks. We will get a few early ones out as soon as they are ready.
Fall is approaching quicker than you know! We have started on our mum production and finding the right amount of room can be a challenge! Our fall 9-inch mums were planted in one area close together to make planting, tagging, fertilizing, and watering as efficient as possible. Now those mums are getting moved and spread out in other locations on the farm to give them room to grow.
For the past 10 days, the wholesale crew has been prepping various fields around the farm: mowing the grass short, laying LOTS of black ground cover, installing pipes to run water to the irrigation lines, and running miles of black irrigation tubing. The mums then get placed on a wagon cart by hand, moved to those locations, set down by hand, and then meticulously placed under a hole in the tubing to get the drip irrigation.
The crew has been working steadily through these hot humid days. They have moved about 8,000 mums so far – almost 1/3 of the crop. This year we will have over 25,000 9in mums. 54 different varieties across 7 different colors: 5 varieties of Bronze, 10 Orange, 6 Pink, 7 Purple, 8 Red, 7 White, and 11 yellow. Different varieties will bloom at different times – based on their genetics. When they bloom will be driven by the days getting shorter and cooler. Some are categorized as early blooming – others mid-season and others late. Even if planted early or later than others – they will bloom when their genetics tells them to.
Among the early bloomers – there are many whites and yellows. Very few purples or oranges. The bronzes, reds, and oranges come strong mid-season. The late season also has more oranges and purples, along with yellows. This year we are trying a couple of new purples and oranges that should bloom earlier and a new pink and a new red that should bloom late season.
Here’s to a successful mum crop this fall season!
The fall and holiday seasons have flown by and the wholesale crew continues to be hard at work. The mums planted in the 9-inch pots last summer sold well throughout the fall season – we had an increase in sales over the 2019 season (before COVID hit us); 80% of those mums were shipped out to commercial landscape customers and the remainder were sold through our retail centers.
Pansy and viola sales were also strong this year, and they have not stopped. We will ship out the last 35 trays of 6 inch yellow violas to a customer tomorrow morning! While pansies and violas are always the most dependable annual, their popularity is spiking among customers planting their own gardens.
The poinsettia crop was a great one this year. Sales in 4.5-inch and 6.5-inch were a bit lower than previous years, but 8-inch sold out and 10-inch sales were up from the past 2 years – guess that means consumers are looking for bigger poinsettias in their homes during the holidays season.
As the fall sales wound down, we began to see exciting upgrades to our greenhouses. New plastic roofs were installed by our wholesale managers and their team. That crew is quite efficient at removing the old roofs, pulling on the new poly film, and making it secure. Additionally, new Polycarbonate walls are getting installed by Greenstreet’s facility team. The results are already amazing.
Even before the Holiday sales were in full swing, our Liners business began to pick up for the Spring 2022 season. Unrooted cuttings have been arriving for planting into plug trays. In the month of December, we had over 61,300 unrooted cuttings arrive via express shipping – most of them from Central America. Our crew has planted them into plug trays or into an oasis medium. Furthermore, our team has also been taking cuttings of many non-patented items that we propagate on-site – such as Lysimachia, Marguerite Potato vine, Lantana New Gold, and more.
In the main office, we have officially completed our 2022 Spring/Summer Wholesale Catalog and sent it to the printer – copies should be here soon! If you can’t wait til then, download a pdf copy from our website.
This may be the closest Wholesale comes to having a “slow” season – but they are already gearing up a spring season that will be here all too soon.
Summer is officially over and we are running full blast into fall. After various setbacks with soil delivery delays and machinery breaking down, the last of the 6″ pansies and violas were finally planted last Saturday.
More than 200,000 6″ pots, and 500,000 4″ pots have been planted by our crew. Already the first crops are looking fabulous and they are shipping out to customers from Delaware to Pennsylvania to Virginia to DC and across Maryland.
Even before the last pansies were planted, the crew had begun work on spacing out the large poinsettias. The 8″ and 10″ poinsettias had been kept in close quarters for the last few weeks to facilitate watering and pinching back. Now that they are really starting to grow, they need more space. All of Greenhouse 20 will be used to accommodate the large poinsettias. Each potted plant is set on an inverted black pot that gives it a little height off the ground to promote a little more air circulation. Each pot is spaced at very specific measurements – in all directions – to allow the maximum number of plants and still be given adequate spacing. After the plants are moved and set, irrigation lines are run and inserted into every pot.
Although we grow many of our wholesale products, there are some items we ship in. In the spring, it is the tropicals – the hibiscus, mandevilla, various palm trees, and more. In the fall, it is evergreens and other shrubs. Yuccas, boxwoods, and a few thujas arrived a few weeks ago. Today our largest fall order arrived from Oregon. More than 1100 items, from 1 gallon to 15 gallons showed up in a big 18-wheeler. It took more than 90 minutes to get those items offloaded with at least 10 people helping move material. All by hand. One at a time.
This week, 4,600 4.5″ and 5,000 6″ poinsettias have been trimmed. The 8″ and 10″ poinsettias are showing lots of new growth after their trimming.
Mums are shipping out – 2,641 mums are being delivered tomorrow; 2,486 are going to one customer alone.
Our team member Silvia has been making beautiful combo pots with a mixture of fall annuals with lots of colors.
2,000 kale have been planted in 4.5″ pots.
In the last 4 weeks, we have received 1,174,080 pansy/viola plugs. In a perfect world, we would have had everything planted by now, but delays due to soil machines breaking down, late deliveries of soil, and having all the pots have put us a little behind.
The majority of the 6in pots and trays arrived in July, but we found out 2 weeks ago that 40% of the trays had been back-ordered until November. We managed to track down some additional trays and pots – later in the season we will have some 6in pansies and violas in 6 count trays instead of 8 count trays. But we did get them!
80% of the 4in pots have been planted. About 68% of the 6in have been planted. Currently, there are 98 carts each with 40 trays of newly planted pots in our greenhouse waiting to be set down. This week the crew will be working hard to get the last 250,000 plants into their respective pots.
We hope to see some of the first crops of 4″ pansies ship to the stores this week.
The last 2 weeks in wholesale may not have had the feeling of urgency we normally experience, but there was still lots going on. 5000 poinsettias were planted into 6.5″ pots, 4000 poinsettias were planted into 4.5″ pots, and another 1125 poinsettias were planted into hanging baskets (there are only 125 baskets, but each one takes 9 poinsettia plants). And finally – every pot is appropriately tagged.
Additionally, 2800 6″ pots of mums and 4000 4.5″ pots of mums were spaced and separated to allow them additional room to grow. Each tray now has half the number of pots they normally carry – every other space is empty. 9″ pots for kale/cabbage were filled with soil and set out along the big production field. So far over 3000 pots are prepped and ready – but that is less than half of what will be needed for the plugs arriving this week.
Pots have also been getting prepped for pansy/viola planting. Right now there are 28 pallets of 4in pots stacked in trays in the production area. Each pallet has approximately 160 trays – giving us over 80,000 pots ready to go. However, we will need more than 110,000 pots for the first round of plugs arriving this week.
While greenhouses and the production area get cleaned and prepped for the fall planting about to start, the crew is still pulling landscape orders every day and shipping items to the stores. And there is always the watering to do.
We occasionally get asked when the “slow” season is for wholesale. After 20 years, we’re still wondering just when we might get a slow season……