Ken Fisher Joins AmericaHort as President and Chief Executive Officer offerings, while adding new value that will broaden our membership,” said Dale Deppe, AmericanHort Board Chairman. “The pace of change in our industry is rapid, and he has experience successfully leading organizations through both business and regulatory cycles. Ken’s business growth track record is exactly what AmericanHort needs as we enter our next chapter, which I am confident will be even more impactful and exciting than our last.” “In the near term we will examine our value proposition to ensure we are providing substantial more on page 2…
What’s Inside: Ken Fisher Joins AmericaHort as President and Chief Executive Officer 1 The AmericanHort Board of Directors in June named Ken Fisher as the company’s next President and Chief Executive Officer. Fisher has 20 years of experience leading public and privately-held companies, including iconic consumer brands with The Coleman Company and Elmer’s Products Inc. Ken’s diverse business experience will further the vision and strategy of AmericanHort while bringing proven organizational management to achieve the desired results. “We know the industry values our advocacy work and educational programs, especially Cultivate. Ken’s expertise will assist us in enhancing existing Connect: An AmericanHort Member Benefit
Horticulture Industry Partners with State & Federal Officials to Develop Nursery Certification Program
SHIFT: Strategically Incorporating Impulse Buys
Precision Agriculture: Coming to a Greenhouse or Nursery Near You
Plug & Cutting: More than Just Another Conference
AmericanHort: Doing it all, all for you – 365 days a year
Business Solutions Organized for Your Business Interests The AmericanHort Knowledge Center is your go-to-resource for information you and your employees need. Visit AmericanHort.org/Connect for more business-building solutions.
By David Kuack
Ken Fisher Joins AmericaHort as President and Chief Executive Officer…continued from page 1 benefit to growers, retailers, installers, and industry suppliers” said Fisher. “Additional focus will be on meeting the unique needs of nursery and landscape members. We will align resources to enhance our ability to create value and as a result grow our member base.”
Go-forward strategies identified include: • Help to develop prosperous businesses in current and future economic and market conditions
Horticulture Industry Partners with State & Federal Officials to Develop Nursery Certification Program
• Position horticulture to be a relevant and thriving industry where more individuals and future generations will consider it a desirable career • Promote the benefits of plants to be valued and sought after for their health/wellness and economic benefits in communities AmericanHort continues to bring the industry and its members opportunities to advance their businesses and growth their connections through guaranteeing your future; developing your staff; protecting your business; and growing your connections.
Horticultural Research Institute is working with nursery and greenhouse growers, industry consultants, and state and federal department of agriculture officials to help implement a Systems Approach to Nursery Certification (SANC). Nursery and greenhouse growers will soon be able to participate in a voluntary certification program which should simplify and improve the inspection of horticultural plant material. The Systems Approach to Nursery Certification (SANC) program (http://sanc.nationalplantboard.org) is a voluntary, audit-based program designed to reduce pest risks associated with the movement of horticultural plants from all sizes and types of nurseries and greenhouse facilities. “In 2010 USDA officials noticed that there were several entities that were interested in a systems approach to managing pests within nurseries and greenhouses,” said Dana Rhodes, who is a plant inspection program specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and a member of the National Plant Board’s (NPB) core SANC committee.
Figure 1. Star Roses and Plants in West Grove, PA., is the first of the eight growers in the Systems Approach to Nursery Certification (SANC) pilot program to complete its systems approach manual. “With the nursery industry and the National Plant Board also having an interest in a program, the NPB requested Farm Bill funding to investigate the feasibility of a unified systems approach. The then-American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA), Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), and the Society of American Florists (SAF) came together and said this makes sense, and that we should 2 | AmericanHort.org
develop something that would involve a partnership between industry, the National Plant Board, and USDA. Currently we have 23 state departments of agriculture involved in the development of the SANC pilot program. There are eight nursery and greenhouse operations participating in the pilot program, with two companies from each of the four Plant Board regions.”
Change in Mindset Craig Regelbrugge, senior vice president for industry advocacy and research at AmericanHort, said ANLA and HRI initially began working on a phytosanitary certification program, called the United States Nursery Certification Program, with USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) officials in 2006. A major program evaluation was conducted in 2010. “Initially it was easier to have one dance partner rather than 50 dance partners,” Regelbrugge said. “It was the most expeditious way to get a program moving. In the U.S., nursery inspection and certification is primarily a statebased process. Nursery and greenhouse operations tend to be registered or licensed at the state level. Almost every state has some variation on the theme. The primary boots on the ground with respect to certifying plants for movement are the states.” Regelbrugge said ANLA began merging its efforts with the states in 2012. “USDA’s primary role has been to facilitate and to help to coordinate the overall effort,” he said. “Funding for the program has been through the Farm Bill and USDA is administering these key aspects of the Farm Bill.” Regelbrugge said the National Plant Board has brought organization and structure to the SANC program. “The Plant Board established a series of working committees and they are maintaining the involvement of the states through these committees,” he said. more on page 10… 2016:7 | 3
Another way to strategically incorporate impulse buys is to provide the opportunity for add-on sales. This means having the products your customers will need to go along with what they are already purchasing. For example, near a display of plants showcase impulse buys such as hard goods, tools, fertilizer, or soil. This will provide a meaningful solution for your customers by taking the guess work out of what they need and will increase the purchase amount.
We’d love to hear how you have incorporated impulse buys into a retail layout. Send us an email and let us know what’s worked (or hasn’t worked for you). Email me at JenN@AmericanHort.org.
By strategically showcasing your products, not only will the customer get everything they need, but those extra sales add up and can have a positive impact on your bottom line.
For more information on SHIFT, download the e-book “An Introduction to SHIFT” which contains the nearly 30 insights and recommendations uncovered in the SHIFT research. The e-book is available at AmericanHort.org/SHIFT.
Jennifer Noble, AmericanHort Knowledge & Professional Development Administrator JenN@AmericanHort.org
SHIFT: Strategically Incorporating Impulse Buys By Jennifer Noble Whether a customer comes into your garden center “just to browse” or with a specific purchase in mind, strategically incorporated impulse buys can enhance the customer’s experience and increase the sale. One of the nearly 30 insights resulting from the SHIFT research, “Opportunities for impulse buys should be strategically incorporated into a retail layout,” addresses this very topic. During the research process, the research team identified that many garden centers offered products that would grab the customer’s attention and lead to purchase, but these products weren’t positioned in a prime place to do just that. A key component to this insight is to be strategic in how you incorporate impulse buys. The best way to start is to understand the customer you are targeting and create customer profiles (for more information on how to create customer profiles, visit the AmericanHort Knowledge Center). It’s also important to take into consideration seasonality, and to make a plan for how often you will rotate the product to ensure it is fresh and relevant for your customer.
How Can You Implement This Insight In Your Business? One opportunity to incorporate impulse buys into your retail layout is to include them in a display as customers are entering your store or near the checkout area. A retailer who has seen great success with this is Target. Upon entering a Target store the first thing you see is “Bullseye’s Playground” (formerly known as “The One Spot”). This area is, as Target describes, a “grab-and-go mecca.” In this area, where products change over regularly, a customer has the opportunity to pick up items which can be giftable, small items to utilize in home décor, snacks, 4 | AmericanHort.org
cards, gift wrapping items, toys, and more. Certainly the price point of the items in this area is attractive to the customer, but more so the seasonality and regular changeover of the merchandise draws attention from the shopper. While capturing the customer’s attention, displays also serve as a reminder of something they need. For example, if you walk into Target for laundry detergent you will walk by and notice that it’s teacher appreciation week and likely grab a quick card/gift to add to your purchase. By taking a similar approach in your garden center, you have the opportunity to increase the sale and provide a solution for your customer, thus making their overall experience even better. As noted earlier, careful planning and strategy for the types of impulse buys you plan to incorporate and your target demographic is key and will lead to even greater success with your customers. According to a 2015 article on their website, the strategy and focus behind Target’s Bullseye’s Playground is clear: “At Target, we’re always keeping a pulse on how guests like to shop. We know you want to feel inspired and confident that you’re getting exciting merchandise at a great price. Enter Bullseye’s Playground: an upgrade meant to up the fun factor and deliver an enhanced experience—designed with you in mind. Product will be curated to encourage discovery and align with three important themes: holiday, seasonal mindset and kids.”
Plug & Cutting Propagation + Latest Research & Technology + Experts, Professionals & Researchers + Networking +
Reasons to attend the Plug & Cutting Conference
This event doesn’t come around every year. Take advantage of the past two years’ worth of research, advancements, and technology innovation at Plug & Cutting.
Carlsbad, California September 19–21, 2016 AmericanHort.org/Plug
We’ve focused on the critical areas that matter most: water, pest and disease management, and production inputs for maximum quality. Not to mention a track entirely in Spanish. Registration now open. Visit AmericanHort.org/Plug
2016:7 | 5
Precision Agriculture: Coming Soon to a Greenhouse or Nursery Near You! By Jill Calabro, PhD
There’s no question that precision agriculture has emerged as a premier tool to optimize fieldlevel management in row crops, orchard systems, and even turf.
readers using radio, or electromagnetic, waves. The reader then transforms the data into a usable form and sends it to a computer system. Here it can be stored in a database and be accessible to the user.
However, given the mobility of plants grown in greenhouse and nursery systems, this tool has not been readily adapted to our industry…at least not yet. Dr. Tom Fernandez at Michigan State University is working to change that. Dr. Fernandez’s mission is to adapt radio-frequency identification (RFID) to greenhouse and nursery production practices to manage inventory, aid decision support systems, and provide crop traceability. He has partnered with J. Frank Schmidt in Oregon, Henry Mast Greenhouses in Michigan, and Flowers by Bauers in Maryland to evaluate the RFID tags in various scenarios and production systems. Partners Dr. John Lea-Cox and Dr. Erik Lichtenberg, both from University of Maryland, will be working with Flowers by Bauers in Maryland.
RFID is a technology that enables data to be encoded digitally in “tags.” Tags are affixed to objects, such as a pot, bundle of flowers, or even a single tree. Each tag contains a unique identifier for each object tagged. That code can be linked in a database with other data, such as location, spray dates, and planting dates. An antenna within each tag transmits this data to RFID 6 | AmericanHort.org
While this technology has promise for the green industry, there are still a few predicaments to resolve. A tag must be resilient enough to withstand the frequent sprays, irrigations, and temperature extremes that a plant potentially undergoes during production and transport. So, one of Dr. Fernandez’s first tasks is to evaluate the durability and effectiveness of various tag types, and he has narrowed his focus to three different types of tags: adhesive tags, keyhole tags, and stakes. One of the biggest challenges that must be overcome before this technology can be widely adopted in plant production systems is the influence of water. Humid environments and products with high water content are known to interfere with RFID signals; plus water and high humidity can impair the tags themselves. To that end, Dr. Fernandez has had limited success to date reading adhesive labels on pots of small plants, especially located in dense plantings. Metal can also interfere with tag readers, so metal carts and cart speed need to be considered when implementing RFID.
One major advantage of this system is that the tag does not need to be within the line of sight of the reader, such as a bar code does. Plus they can be changed, updated, and locked, unlike bar codes, and do not have to be clean. RFID tags are used in many industries, from the “chips” implanted in livestock and pets for tracking purposes to paying highway tolls (think EZ Pass, for all you East Coasters). A group of researchers in the UK even affixed miniature tags to live ants to study their behavior.
One of the biggest challenges is that the green industry is much more fluid than, say, Walmart. We need someone to adapt this technology to make it workable in nursery and greenhouse systems.”
Consumer acceptance is another potential hurdle. RFID has come under fire regarding privacy issues, especially if the tags remain active after a point of sale. Ensuring that consumers accept this new technology in their plant-buying experiences is critical for success. Therefore, this project includes a component to conduct surveys on the US population to determine their understanding of RFID and its use in the green industry. Dr. Bridget Behe at Michigan State University will conduct this portion of the work. 2016 is the second year that this project will be funded by the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI). Additionally, MSU Project GREEEN has provided over $78,000 in funds for this work, and Dr. Fernandez is developing proposals for future work and has an interest in incorporating tags into pots.
Chuck Jagger, Plant Manager with Henry Mast Greenhouses, had this to say, “I find RFID technology intriguing. We offered to help Tom with this project to allow us some firsthand knowledge of where the technology is and perhaps have a better idea of where it needs to get in order to work for us.
Dr. Fernandez has, so far, had the greatest success with keyhole tags. Some of his early work focused on harvest operations at J. Frank Schmidt, where he partnered with Sam Doane, Production Horticulturist. One keyhole tag was used per bundle of bare-root stock. A total of 841 tags were deployed; all but 9 tags (1%) were successfully read during a pallet load experiment. Keyhole tags have also been on large container trees, and 100 percent of the tags were read up to 14 feet from the reader.
“I see it as a more accurate and efficient way to maintain an inventory, precise to specific locations within the greenhouses with less management-level labor involved. We would have to invest in hardware and software enhancements, and so, I think RFID is still out of reach for potted material. It will find itself much more common, much more quickly, in the young plant sector.”
Sam Doane commented, “RFID is a fantastic, untapped technology in our industry, and Tom’s work is extremely valuable. We have so much to gain, especially inventory-related benefits. We have an 80-acre container yard, and getting an accurate count of trees is nearly impossible. Even a 1 percent error rate is a lot. RFID would help reduce that error so that our inventory count would be spot-on.
As precision agriculture moves toward a reality for the green industry, expect to see great strides in record keeping and production practices improvement. Once proven effective, RFID can manage records of pesticide application, irrigation, and nutrition to better help decision making for future practices and provide accountability for certification programs. Misapplications could be greatly reduced, if not entirely eliminated, and the potential exists for integration with application equipment to improve accuracy of applications. Inventory management through RFID allows the real-time location of inventory and rapid monitoring during loading, unloading, and stocking.
Jill Calabro, PhD Research & Science Programs Director, AmericanHort JillC@AmericanHort.org (202) 789-0683
2016:7 | 7
Plug & Cutting: More Than Just Another Conference
2. Plug Connection, Vista, CA—Plug Connection has a legacy of being one of the first—and largest—young plant producers on the west coast. It continues testing frontiers as a leader in the arena of grafting young plants. They’ll tell you the potential of this new technology, especially regarding veggies, and the challenges—and potential—of greenhouse vegetable production. 3. EuroAmerican Propagators, Inc., Bonsall, CA—As one of the founding partners of Proven Winners, EuroAmerican Propagators, Inc. is known for its technological advancements. Its focus on vegetative micropropagation techniques, which included producing elite stock plants by utilizing thermally treated tissue cultures, launched the company to one of the leaders in the plug and cutting industry.
Carlsbad, California September 19–21, 2016
For the Hands-On Learner
When you’re focused on producing plants smaller than a finger, every input impacts the final product quality, from light ratios to EC, pH, DO, microand macronutrients, temperature, DIF, DIP—not to mention the pest control measures you will inevitably have to take.
Also of note is the full day hands-on biocontrol workshop held at Olive Hill Greenhouse. Participants can get hands on in a real production setting, thus learning good biocontrol release and monitoring habits before even returning to your business. Furthermore, it’s presented by some of the industry’s leading authorities on the subject of biocontrols: Chris Hayes, PhD from BioWorks, Jen Bergh Browning from BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals, Ronald Valentin, PhD from Syngenta, and Suzanne Wainwright-Evans from Buglady Consulting.
Straight from the Experts The conference includes 32 sessions that address the scope of most—if not all—grower challenges with speakers who have the practicality to offer suggestions that work. Growers are encouraged to come and discover an array of valuable resources and information, including • advanced nutrient management techniques • how to address labor challenges • innovative ways to manage water and moisture • pest management actions that alleviate both pest pressure and price • and young plant trends from around the world. Not to mention a series of sessions entirely in Spanish that covering many of these same topics. 8 | AmericanHort.org
Maintaining a consistent supply of new knowledge and resources can be its own challenge in the dayto-day operations of any grower. Plug & Cutting offers new options, answers, and information that lead to better profits and plants. And you can get it all in just three days, not to mention the opportunity to network and learn from other growers. We’ve counted at least 100 takeaways so far, but we challenge you to find a few more at Plug & Cutting. Information and registration are available online at AmericanHort.org/Plug.
Field & Covered Field & Covered Production Tour Production Tour
The Plug and Cutting Conference brings it all together for intermediate and advanced growers seeking to keep their knowledge sharp and relevant. With a lineup of 26 experts presenting on a variety of critical topics, it’s a three-day conference known for quality education and powerful takeaways.
The Answer for Busy Growers
September 14-15, 2016 September 14-15, 2016 NewNew Jersey Jersey AmericanHort.org/Tour AmericanHort.org/Tour
Beyond the Classroom Another option for enriching your learning experience is the Grower Tour, which will explore some of the industry’s most notable growing operations. 1. First Step Greenhouses, Temecula, CA—With beautiful trial gardens and industry-renown as a rooting station for Dümmen Orange, you’ll see how the use of an environmental computer allows them to maximize the effectiveness of their space and how their greenhouse infrastructure allows them to fine-tune conditions for plants’ needs.
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riesrseries NutrseNu eveserdt eves OverdOv Three unique operations, industry pilotprogram program pioneers, Three unique operations, industryaward awardwinners, winners, pilot pioneers, and legacy vision. and legacy vision. Walk away key insights on everything from production techniques to pest management, frommanagement water management Walk away with keywith insights on everything from production techniques to pest management, from water to marketing, from customer service to control. disease control. marketing, from customer service to disease
2016:7 | 9
Horticulture Industry Partners with State & Federal Officials to Develop Nursery Certification Program…continued from page 3 “Plant Board’s involvement is very important because if we are going to implement a new way of doing business, the states need to embrace it. They need to co-own it. Ultimately the key constant in a program like this is where a receiving state accepts plant certification. That’s why it’s really important to have robust state involvement. Broad-based engagement and involvement are a tool to gain broad-based acceptance. “SANC is a partnership program. AmericanHort, the Horticultural Research Institute and other industry collaborators are in partnership with the National Plant Board and USDA-APHIS. It is an industry regulatory partnership and it is important to be seen that way. If the regulators are imposing this program on the industry, then the growers are not going to have much interest in it.”
Consultants Assist Pilot Nurseries Regelbrugge said the Horticultural Research Institute has taken the role of making sure the best interests of the industry are served by SANC. The organization is administering a Farm Bill grant of $149,500, most of which has been used to retain two independent consultants to work with the eight nursery and greenhouse operations participating in the SANC pilot program. “We felt it was really important that there be this body of expertise that is non-regulatory,” Regelbrugge said. “The two consultants retained by HRI are Jerry Lee, who was formerly with Monrovia and Wight Nurseries in Georgia, and Darrell Maddox, who has worked extensively in the seed industry and is a systems and accreditation expert. These consultants are the first boots on the ground in these pilot operations to go in and help the growers understand the program framework and what they need to do. They help walk the nurseries through the SANC process along with assistance from the state department of agriculture representative.“ The growers want to be able to engage with the consultants directly. They are not seen as an extension of the regulatory apparatus. They are seen as truly independent, helping these nursery operations work through the process.”
Figure 2. John Rausch, chief operating officer at Star Roses and Plants, said one of the reasons his company got involved with SANC was to be a better nursery and to reduce any risk of pests and disease. Rhodes said SANC will be a voluntary program managed by each state department of agriculture or each state’s regulatory authority that manages nursery and greenhouse inspections. “By developing the program we are also developing the tools so that we can have consistent training from state to state,” Rhodes said. “With most of the current programs, when state officials go in to do inspections growers are told they can or cannot ship. With SANC, it’s actually a case if we go in and find a problem rather than just tell growers they can’t ship, we are starting to tell them why they can’t ship the plants. We are working to find out where the weak link is and the need to rectify it. As state regulators we never really questioned why something couldn’t ship, but we will be able to do that now with a systems approach to nursery certification. There will be more communication between the growers and the states so that we are working on these problems together.”
10 | AmericanHort.org
Star Roses and Plants in West Grove, Pennsylvania, is the first of the eight growers in the SANC pilot program to complete its systems approach facility manual. “When Dana Rhodes approached us during the summer of 2014 and said that the National Plant Board had this process called SANC that they had been working on, I was originally very intrigued,” said John Rausch, chief operating officer at Star Roses and Plants. “I felt that we do a good job on sanitation and scouting and trying to do the right thing to keep injurious pests from shipping to our customers. One of the reasons we were interested and got involved from the beginning was to be a better nursery and to reduce any risk of pests and disease.”
Figure 3. The SANC program covers every type of grower from propagators to finish plant growers.
Rausch said before his company became involved with SANC it had protocols on many different techniques, especially sanitation. “We had a fair amount of documentation, but we felt any time that we could improve that documentation and take it to a national standard level that would make us that much better,” he said. “It’s not just at the farm level. It’s a level where standards are agreed upon by the departments of agriculture and consultants and the industry. We felt that would make our internal practices that much stronger and mitigate the risks in a much better way.” Another reason that Rausch was interested in being a SANC pilot operation was the potential for the company to write its own phytosanitary certificates.
calling a systems audit,” Rhodes said. “Each year growers would look at their entire systems, but also throughout the year we might look at one particular aspect such as training or shipping or receiving. Each of the facilities would also do internal audits. They are looking at their own systems to make sure that things are working the way they need to. There will be more eyes looking at everything that is going on throughout the year than what we have right now. “We are working with each of the state regulators so that they understand the process that each of the nurseries will have to go through. There is a lot of communication between industry and the state departments of agriculture right now in order to develop this knowing that each of the states will be responsible for the facilities within their state. The program covers every type of grower from propagators to finish plant growers. Growers interested in participating in SANC should contact their local state department of agriculture.”
David Kuack Freelance Technical Writer Fort Worth, Texas email@example.com
Figure 4. According to Dana Rhoades, a plant inspection program specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and a member of the National Plant Board’s core SANC committee, one of the goals of the program is to make state regulators aware that products grown by SANCcertified growers are safe and they are maintaining and following specific practices so that load-by-load inspections aren’t required.
Dana Rhodes, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, (717) 772-5205; firstname.lastname@example.org. National Plant Board, nationalplantboard.org. Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort, (202) 425-4401; email@example.com; americanhort.org. Systems Approach to Nursery Certification, http://sanc.nationalplantboard.org. Horticultural Research Institute, (614) 487-1155; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.hriresearch.org. Star Roses and Plants, (610) 869-4231; email@example.com; starrosesandplants.com. David Kuack is a freelance technical writer in Fort Worth, Texas; firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Being able to write our own phytosanitary certificates for shipping attracted us as well,” he said. “For the current process, we have to schedule our shipments and we have to research what kind of protocols we need to do to be able to ship plants across the country with different types of chemical treatments. We have to coordinate that with our state department of agriculture. An official comes out, does an inspection and writes us a phytosanitary certificate. But if a customer changes its order, the phytosanitary certificate may not be relevant anymore and then we have to start the whole process over again. SANC was attractive to us because it has the promise of streamlining the shipping process and replacing the inspection that often has to now occur at time of shipping.” Rhoades said one of the goals of the program is to make state regulators aware that the product grown by SANC-certified growers is safe and they are maintaining and following specific practices so that load-by-load inspections aren’t required. “There would still be an annual audit, what we are 2016:7 | 11
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