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.