Fall & Christmas Design Show 10/11/17 Recap
About six months ago our Supply Manager, Arnold Price, received a recommendation from an industry peer, Willie from Kennicott Brothers in Chicago. Willie spoke very highly of a Missouri based floral designer named Ron Johnson. Hillcrest Garden is always on the lookout for a new designer to give our customer base a fresh outlook on floral design. So naturally, we called Ron right away and hired him to be our featured designer for our October 2017 Fall and Christmas design show. Ron was an unknown quantity to our east-coast centric floral customer base, and that was both exciting and nerve-wracking. Exciting, for we would have a fun new floral expert to foist upon our customers, and nerve-wracking for there’s always that fear in the back of your mind, “maybe they won’t come, for they don’t know him.” Well we had a wonderful turn-out with 105 attendees, so our fears were unfounded.
Ron has an even keeled, calm demeanor. He makes you at ease when he speaks. He owns three different floral / home décor themed shops. So he sits in the same shoes as the floral shops that attended our show last night. He spoke for an hour and forty-five minutes, and showed the crowd 50 floral designs. Here are some of the highlights from our perspective:
- Ron is a believer in proving to his customers that his shop is known for unique and creative designs. He told our audience that he has developed a reputation within his community for fun creative designs, and that customers will come back repeatedly to take advantage of this originality. Above are some examples of this that he created for our Wednesday show.
- He also showed the crowd a fantastic simple arrangement that he does hundreds of per year. He takes a square piece of foam, the attaches 5-6 pieces of salal to the edge sticking out horizontally like wings all around the top edge. Then using a rubber band he collapses the salal leafs down so that they lie flat against the edge of the foam, to hide view of foam. Then he flips the design over, inserts short stem flowers and glittered balls vertically into the foam and voila, you have an inexpensive beautiful small arrangement that takes almost no time to do. A six inch white lomey dish can be placed underneath to catch residual water.
- The most fantastic idea I felt Ron taught the crowd that evening was creating unique wine toppers. Now if one of your customers is invited to a holiday party, instead of showing up with a bottle of wine in a generic bag, they can instead wow their host with a bottle of win with a unique holiday design on top. Ron calls then “wine toppers.” This is a wonderful idea! Do you think customers you may have lost to the local grocery store floral department will find something like that at the ACME? No, for that type of creativity, they will need to go to a florist, and that is another feather a florist can have in their cap. Another reason why this idea is so good for florists, is now you have a way to marry your shop to the liquor business. There are a lot of wine bottles sold each year. Just think about what percentage of wine bottles are purchases as hostess gifts by people attending a party? It has to be a healthy percentage, maybe 5% if we had to guess. The ideas just flow when you think about this idea. Can you contact your local town liquor store, and develop some sort of a partnership or arrangement? Can you teach a class in the evening at your shop, where you teach of group of your customers how to make these wine toppers? I would imagine they would also like to drink some wine that evening while you teach the calss, as long as its BYOW, that should be OK with you insurance wise. Wine toppers in general can be an idea you promote on your website. A host/hostess that gets a wine topper as a gift can regift it if he/she attends a future party. If you want to make the wine topper extra perishable, you can build it so that there is a cut flower element to it, so the customer will need to frequently come back to your shop for a refill if they want to re-gift the wine topper to another host/hostess.
- We had requested that Ron showcase more of our Christmas artificial items this show. So he made many creative pieces that can be sold at a flower shop, and also have a long shelf life. After the show, we have many attendees anxious to purchase these 100% artificial arrangements.
- We are pleased to announce the winner of our grand prize for the eveing. Heights Flowers Shop in Hasbrouck Heights NJ was the winner of the $400 in gift cards (Lowes, CVS etc) Grand Prize. Congratulations to them!
Wholesalers to Retailers: Plan Ahead and Order Early
Posted By: Mary Westbrookon
“Inbound freight from South America remains challenging, but the situation has improved somewhat,” said Steve Catando, purchasing manager for DV Flora. “Many importers are shipping earlier to allow for more time to offset any potential delays. Costs remain a real issue and all of the capacity that is being flown over normal space allotments are being flown at significantly higher costs.”
A late summer and early fall that read like something out of a science fiction movie — hurricanes, volcanoes, grounded planes, backlogged ports — has created new challenges for the floral industry supply chain and exposed some long-standing weaknesses.
What does that mean in practical terms for retailers planning for Thanksgiving, fall weddings, Christmas, Hanukkah — and even Valentine’s Day?
“The best advice I can provide is straight from my youth and being an Eagle Scout,” said Steve Catando, purchasing manager for DV Flora. “Be prepared.”
Catando noted that many industry members are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Irma, which hit Florida last month and forced the temporary closure of major sea and airports.
“Inbound freight from South America remains challenging, but the situation has improved somewhat,” he said. “Many importers are shipping earlier to allow for more time to offset any potential delays. Costs remain a real issue and all of the capacity that is being flown over normal space allotments are being flown at significantly higher costs.”
Catando also noted “major limitations in greens, leatherleaf, and some key Florida plant crops.” In fact, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced last week that the preliminary agricultural damages caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida will total more than $2.5 billion. (Look for more coverage of Florida growers in future issues of EBrief and in Floral Management magazine.)
Pam Uranga, supply chain manager for Mayesh Wholesale Florist, said her company is “80 to 90 percent” back to normal after Hurricane Irma. Still, she noted, that major storm wasn’t the only challenge growers, importers and wholesalers faced in recent weeks: A volcanic eruption also delayed flights in Quito, Ecuador, before and after Irma.
In addition, as several wholesalers noted, some air carriers continue to struggle financially due to an imbalance between north- and southbound freight volume, a situation that can lead to backlogs and delays as carriers wait for cargo before returning to Miami — and one that the recent round of weather-related challenges exacerbated. (Flights leave South America with product but return empty or only partially filled, in part because of slowdown in local economies and demand.) Another challenge that pre-dates the hurricane: The floral industry often competes with more profitable cargo for space on flights — some produce crops from Peru and Chile pay three-times more per kilogram than flowers, according to Catando. In addition, high-priority rescue and relief efforts in Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria, also pulled away charter planes that some companies tried calling in. (At press time, another natural disaster, wild fires in northern California, did not appear to be threatening major flower-growing regions in that state.)
Kennicott Brothers Company/Nordlie advised customers last week that they are seeing a two- to three-day delay in product coming from South America to Miami: “The summer was difficult and then Hurricane Irma caused a five-day stoppage in flights. The airlines have seen a backlog from all three major ports.” (Bogotá and Medellin, in Colombia, and Quito, in Ecuador.)
“The logistics situation is real and will continue to be a challenge moving forward,” said Joe Barnes marketing manager for Kennicott Brothers. “We don’t believe this will [improve] before Christmas. History shows airlines have more freight opportunities [in terms of non-floral cargo] from other ports in November and December.”
Catando predicts demand for Thanksgiving will be strong while air cargo “capacity will remain the same.”
“Many companies are exploring with sea container freight to help relieve some of the air space,” he said. “We expect air freight challenges to continue for December and through Valentine’s Day 2018.”
His advice for retailers: “Order early for sure and plan in advance,” he said. “I recommend they add a day or two to their real desired delivery day. [If I were them], I would rather have my product cold and in a cooler a day earlier than wondering if I’m going to get it.”
Kennicott Brothers suggested a similar approach to its customers. “Please continue to get your orders in as early as you can. The capacity is tight and it’s taking more time to get everything to our locations.”
That’s also a message Uranga is hoping to spread.
“From a wholesale-level, it’s getting more difficult to handle late orders,” she said. “It’s been a challenging few weeks, but we know the issues that we’re facing. When retailers plan ahead and order early, we’re golden. We can find ways to make it work.”
Post Irma Recap, Oct 2017
The weather in the southern part of the United States has wreaked havoc with the floral industry. Miami is the main portal of flowers into this country. When Miami gets shut down, as it was during the recent hurricane that swept thru Florida, the flow of flowers from Colombia and Ecuador to the United States stops.
These are the after-effects we have seen from the viewpoint of a wholesaler:
South America: There was three or four days there, where nobody in South America could get floral product to the US. Yes there were flights into NYC and Houston, and probably some other cities like Atlanta and St Louis, but that was a trickle compared to what usually comes in thru Miami. In Las Vegas, the wholesalers there chartered an entire plane to bring in their flowers. I guess gambling isn’t the only thing they’re good at! So many of these flowers in S.A that could not get air-space on limited flights were dumped. Growers took a large hit on their profit/loss statement. That means over the next year, they are going to do their best to make up those losses, through higher prices. Another little known fact is that after Irma swept thru, all the hotel rooms in Miami were filled. Airlines that need a place for a pilot to sleep after he/she has flown the maximum amount of hours he or she was allowed, could not find rooms for these pilots. So consequently, they cancelled flights. So even though the hurricane was over, the lack of hotel rooms constricted airspace on all the available flights which consequently affected our floral industry. Also, there are lots of fruits and other products that were vying for the available cargo airspace with flowers. Sometimes fruit would win and sometimes they wouldn’t. Regardless, this was still less airspace for flowers. Wholesalers like us were put in a quandary. We could buy heavier from California, but then if the Miami portal opened up sooner than we thought, our coolers would be overloaded with flowers. Our buyers had to make a lot of key decisions in the run-up to hurricane Irma, and we had no way of knowing that something as innocuous as booked up hotel rooms in Miami would have a trickledown effect on our airspace.
Florida: All the leather-leaf growers in FLA took a major hit from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew. Their netting and sprinkler systems over hundreds of acres were ruined. They had large losses, and the state government of FLA took emergency actions and allowed the leather leaf growers to band together and raise prices. They were given an anti-trust exemption. Our company was forced to raise prices as a result of higher increases in 2016. Now fast forward to 2017, and Hurricane Irma. Those same leather leaf growers, who had all poured tons of money into fixing their netting/sprinklers, had them all destroyed again 12 months later by Irma. So once again leather leaf prices are rising. Some leather leaf producers may actually go out of business. Our company after being hit in the head twice is looking into alternate sources of leather leaf, since FLA is so fragile right now. Stay tuned for more information on that.
Air Freight Rates: The airlines took advantage of the hurricane and raised rates on airspace, and those rates have not come down even though we are almost a good three weeks past Irma. Our cut flower buyers tell us that these high rates will most likely remain in place thru January. Then they may drop only to rise again with V-Day surcharges that airlines tack on. Our company had some pretty dramatic clashes with the airlines, as we attempted to fly boxes into Kennedy airport in the days after Irma. Those air freight terminals were manned by nasty employees, and they also wanted certified checks, credit cards were not accepted. Get this, at 12:00 Noon, they all break for a 1 hour lunch. There is no staggering of the lunches, so the entire airfreight cargo pick-up terminal would shut down for an entire hour. Can you imagine going to the grocery store, and being told your cc # is no good, you must run to the bank and get a certified check? Can you imagine being in line with your groceries and being told, that all the check-out employees are going on a 1 hour break, and you have to stand there and wait an hour? Well this is what happened to Hillcrest Garden. We sent drivers over two separate days to four terminals and we experienced all this bad customer service from all four of the airlines that flew our flowers north. We were on the phone, yelling cajoling, begging for hours to no avail.
Tractor Trailer Transportation: After seeing images of Houston based tractor trailers stuck in 10 foot high water during Harvey on CNN, I am sure that every tractor trailer company in Florida wanted nothing to do with Irma. We actually use two trucking firms to ship our flowers north from Miami to Paramus. One trucker stopped shipping 4 days before Irma and had all their trucks flee the state. With tractor trailers costing so much money, who could blame them? Hillcrest Garden’s other trucking firm stayed the course and kept shipping product, taking a big risk. We were impressed! For there were several days there, we would have had no shipments if this trucking firm had not kept hauling. We are eternally grateful for that.
Proflora 2017: Our cut flower buyers are currently in Colombia attending this flower trade show. All the attendees are thinking the same thing as we are, how can we make air freight into Miami less of a crutch, after what we went through with Irma? There are ocean freight containers (flowers kept at 32 degrees) that will ship flowers from northern ports in Colombia into Miami. This is one way around the airlines. It will force buyers into more lead time, since the ocean freight takes a few days longer that the planes. We will keep you posted on this new travel process.
In Texas, Heartbreak, Resiliency and a Monster Storm Far from Over
Local officials in Texas said at least 30 deaths were believed to have been caused by the storm through Tuesday, up from eight a day earlier, according to The New York Times. “I expect that number to be significantly higher once the roads become passable,” said Erin Barnhart, the chief medical examiner for Galveston County. (Photo of a flooded neighborhood, as documented by The Houston Chronicle.)
Nearly a week after its initial impact, Tropical Storm Harvey has left an unimaginable trail of destruction along 300 miles of the Gulf Coast — and, while the sun finally reemerged in Houston, the storm is far from over.
The storm — which has delivered devastation on a scale meteorologists, community members and journalists can hardly describe — made its second landfall early this morning in Louisiana. In its aftermath, tens of thousands of Texans are reeling, with many people still survival mode as search and rescue operations continue.
Throughout the storm, floral industry members have come together, frequently via social media, to spread information, share updates and offer support.
In Houston, Fawn Dellit and her family came under mandatory evacuation on Monday morning.
In Houston, Fawn Dellit and her family came under mandatory evacuation on Monday morning. “We tried to go to one of the shelters and it was completely full, so we went to my flower studio,” said Dellit, the owner of F. Dellit Designs. “My two kids, dog, husband and I set up camp there for two days.”
“We tried to go to one of the shelters and it was completely full, so we went to my flower studio,” said Dellit, the owner of F. Dellit Designs. “My two kids, dog, husband and I set up camp there for two days.”
They returned home Tuesday to a dry house and Dellit, who has been collecting goods for harder hit victims at her studio, took to Facebook to update friends and customers.
“The sun is out, the storm is gone but unfortunately it’s not over for a lot of people,” she wrote. “All the water we got has to go somewhere so the bayous and rivers are flooding. Continue to keep Houston in your thoughts. Don’t let your guard down yet friends! “
Wallace Bennett said he hasn’t yet been able to fully assess damage at his two locations of Va Va Bloom.
“Our flagship shop in Kingwood is currently under about 3 feet of water,” he said on Tuesday. “The second store [in the Cleveland area] is questionable but inaccessible due to flooded roads. Prayers please.”
Tina Smith, a floral designer with HEB grocery stores, reported Tuesday being trapped in her apartment for days. “I haven’t been able to get to my floral shop. I have no idea what’s happened there,” she said. “I keep looking at the TranStar cameras on the myfoxhouston.com website. It looks like the roads are starting to clear out and I’m going to try to get there tomorrow.”
Beth O’Reilly, AIFD, TMF, manager of Mayesh Wholesale’s Houston location has been helping to coordinate local communication among industry members, with a Facebook page (“Florists Of Houston-Hurricane Harvey Recovery”).
Dianna Nordman AAF, executive director of the Texas State Florists’ Association said that, for now, many industry members remain in a gut-wrenching state of wait-and-see.
“People’s homes and businesses have taken in water and they have evacuated,” she said on Tuesday. “The southern area of Texas is devastated, [we] just do not know the extent yet…This is still not over.”
Beth O’Reilly, AIFD, TMF, manager of Mayesh Wholesale’s Houston locationhas been helping to coordinate local communication among industry members, with a Facebook page and untold texts, calls and emails. (The private page is named “Florists Of Houston-Hurricane Harvey Recovery” and searchable on Facebook.) She’s been in frequent communication with the company’s customers all week — hearing stories of bravery and heartache.
“There are going to be some florists who lost everything,” she said, adding that her own home had not been flooded — though houses in her neighborhood, just a few streets down, were underwater. “It’s unbelievable.”
The Mayesh branch itself has been “mostly unaffected by the rain and flooding,” said Ben Powell, Mayesh’s chief operating and chief financial officer, and the branch could re-open as early as today.
In Victoria, Texas, located on the coastal plains of Texas about 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, Clay Atchison said the damage had been minor, compared to other places. “The usual trees and fences down, and some water got in the house from a rain pounding on our chimney — again, minor,” said Atchison, the owner of McAdams Floral.
“Thankfully, I can report that our employees and their families are safe and unharmed,” said Powell. “We know, however, that Houston and much of southeast Texas will be struggling with the aftermath of this terrible disaster for a long time. We pray that all our customers and the many floral industry colleagues in the area are and will remain safe in the days ahead.”
Greenleaf Wholesale Florist also reported that its Houston facility escaped the storm unharmed — the company re-opened its facility this morning with “employees that were safely able to come into work,” said Rob Spikol, president.
“We have several employees that were evacuated and lost their home to flood waters and have already been advised that we have a number of our florist customers that their flower shops are completely underwater,” he said, adding that Greenleaf will make its space available to any florists affected by Harvey. “We will give them access to our facility and cooler as well as design space to keep their business going for no charge … We will allow them to use this space for as long as they need.”
Industry members outside of Houston also are beginning to assess damage from the storm.
Pamela Arnosky of Arnosky Family Farms and Texas Specialty Cut Flowers in Wimberley and Blanco experienced the outer bands of the tropical force wind and rain.
“We had four days of wind, and six inches of rain,” she said on Tuesday. “The production we expected to harvest for the next several weeks is flat to the ground. We expect to pick a fraction of our normal harvest. It could have been worse, and who can really complain when one sees how others’ lives have been completely upended. We do have small plants coming along, already in the ground, for the fall production.”
“Honestly,” she added, “this is Texas, and this is farming, and we have survived other catastrophes. We just have to rally our energy ’round to get it all going again.”
In Victoria, Texas, located on the coastal plains of Texas about 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, Clay Atchison said the damage had been minor, compared to other places.
“The usual trees and fences down, and some water got in the house from a rain pounding on our chimney — again, minor,” said Atchison, the owner of McAdams Floral, who was still without electricity on Tuesday. “The shop might need some cooler compressor work. HEB is open, operating on generators.”
While the situation across the Gulf Coast and especially in Houston remains a rescue operation, business owners inside and outside of the industry have noted serious shortcomings in the National Flood Insurance Program — and unresolved questions that could prove challenging as businesses try to rebuild. Founded 50 years ago, the program is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30 and has just $5.8 billion left it can borrow from the Treasury to meet new claims, according to January figures reported to Congress, as reported this week by The Wall Street Journal.
Some floral industry members already are organizing to help fund relief for victims of the historic storm. In Sacramento, California, Relles Florist announced it will raise money for the American Red Cross by giving a percentage of sales on two designs in honor of storm victims.
In addition, Corinne Dudine, executive administrator for the SEARCH Foundation, a nonprofit that supports event professionals confronted with a catastrophic occurrence, reached out on Facebook to say her Scottsdale, Arizona-based group is ready “to assist all of our friends in the Texas events community.” For information on the group and how to donate, click here. To request instance, click here.
Look for additional coverage of the storm and its effects on the industry in future issues of EBrief and Floral Management. Have a story to share? Need help answering a question? SAF is here to help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hurricane Forces Cancelation of SAF Palm Beach 2017
Posted By: Mary Westbrookon: September 06, 2017In: Floral Industry News
To the delight of anxious hotel guests and staff, the design team behind SAF Palm Beach 2017 handed out gorgeous cut flowers and stunning designs once the convention was called off. “Unplanned Petal It Forward, put smiles on many faces today … flowers do that,” posted Lorraine Cooper, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, to SAF’s convention app, with a photo of hotel staff taking the convention fresh product
The Society of American Florists has canceled SAF Palm Beach 2017, the association’s 133rd annual convention, which was set to begin today at 6 pm.
SAF made the decision Sept. 5 shortly before 1 pm EST after reviewing forecasts and conferring with The Breakers hotel staff about the likely path of Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm expected to hit South Florida in the coming days.
“Based on the way the storm is tracking over the weekend, we’ve decided that it’s in everyone’s best interest that we cancel the convention,” explained SAF CEO Peter Moran in an email to all attendees. “Unfortunately, because the locale for an event of this size has to be booked far in advance, it’s not something that can be rescheduled.”
More than 460 industry members were expected to attend the convention. An estimated 70 had already arrived at The Breakers, taking advantage of some relaxation time prior to the event. SAF is refunding registration fees, and The Breakers will return security deposits.
SAF volunteer leaders and designers had been working at The Breakers for several days prior to the decision, decking the historic hotel with the stunning floral designs that are a hallmark of SAF conventions and tending to important association business, including leadership changes.
The SAF Palm Beach volunteer design team already had worked much of their magic with floral displays throughout the hotel. Fortunately, their hard work didn’t go to waste — it was the subject of admiration for hotel guests, and became a real source of delight during an anxious time, as the design team handed out arrangements and cut flowers to The Breakers visitors and staff once the convention had been called off.
Members of the design team hard at work, prior to cancelation.
“Unplanned Petal It Forward, put smiles on many faces today … flowers do that,” posted Lorraine Cooper, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, to SAF’s convention app, with a photo of hotel staff taking the convention fresh products.
And, while it was no substitute for the extensive networking and reconnecting time usually afforded by an SAF convention, design team members, SAF volunteer leaders and convention attendees who already had arrived for the event dined together Tuesday night.
Despite the cancellation, Bill LaFever of the Bill Doran Company in Rockford, Illinois, officially assumed the SAF presidency, taking over from his predecessor, Martin Meskers, of Oregon Flowers in Aurora, Oregon. Meskers moved into the role of SAF chairman, a position Shirley Lyons, AAF, of Dandelion’s Flowers & Gifts in Eugene, Oregon, held for three years. Chris Drummond, AAF, of Plaza Flowers in Philadelphia, will serve as the group’s president-elect, and Paul Fowle, of DV Flora in Miami and a former SAF board member, will take over Drummond’s role as SAF treasurer.
Members of the Professional Floral Communicators
International Board of Trustees had prepped flowers for the Sylvia Cup Design Competition. Marlin Hargrove, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of the Pete Garcia Company in Atlanta; Robbin Yelverton, AAF, AIFD, CF, MCF, PFCI, of Blumz by…JRDesigns in metro Detroit; Jenny Behlings, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, SDCF, of Jenny’s Floral in Custer, South Dakota; D Damon Samuel, AAF, AIFD, NAFD, NMF, PFCI, of the Bill Doran Company in Omaha, Nebraska, and Susan Wilke, AAF, PFCI, of Karthauser & Sons Wholesale Florist in Franklin, Wisconsin.
Meskers also noted another significant transition: Moran is retiring at the end of the year from his post after 33 years.
Meskers recalled for dinner attendees that, 20 years ago, Moran, SAF COO Drew Gruenburg, Jim Leider of Leider Greenhouses in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and Paul Ecke of the famed Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, paid a visit to Oregon Flowers. “I thought they were interested in a tour and eventually realized they were there to get me to join SAF,” he said with a laugh. “Well, when I was face-to-face with Jim Leider, Paul Ecke, Peter and Drew, what choice did I have? I joined and the rest is history.” Meskers went on to detail Moran’s extensive contributions to SAF and the industry at large. “Peter reinvented the SAF governance and volunteer structure two different times in his 26 years as CEO,” he said, before presenting Moran with a scrapbook of letters and memories from people in the industry. “He managed the industry’s involvement in four different presidential inaugurations. He led efforts to design and implement national marketing programs for the industry. And most recently he managed the sale and relocation of SAF headquarters. Peter, you have really done a phenomenal job for SAF over the years, and I am very pleased that I could witness your leadership skills from a front row seat.”
Kate Penn, currently chief content officer and editor-in-chief of Floral Management, will assume the role of CEO effective November 1. Moran will help work through the transition through the end of the year. Some business from the event has necessarily been left unfinished. Voting members who were registered for SAF Palm Beach 2017 soon will receive ballots for the association’s board of directors election, and the group’s Awards Committee will decide soon whether to present 2017 awards remotely, or save them for the 2018 convention in Palm Springs, California. Floral Management’s Marketer of the Year — traditionally announced at convention — will be unveiled in the September issue of Floral Management, on Friday, when the digital edition goes live. Acknowledging disappointment about the cancellation, Meskers nonetheless praised volunteers and staff for coming together and he thanked the event’s sponsors for their continued support.
Feeling disappointed that you won’t get to soak in the education from SAF Palm Beach 2017? We are, too. Look for tips, advice and insight from some of our convention speakers in upcoming issues of Floral Management magazine.
Help AFE help the Floral Business
I recently had the opportunity to visit Clemson University in South Carolina as part of a visit by members of the AFE Trustee Board. AFE stands for the American Floral Endowment. The Endowment raises money in the floral industry for scholarships for college students studying various aspects of the floral industry and also research projects. These research projects are awarded to land grant universities all over the country. Univ of Vermont, Clemson, Perdue, Colorado State, and Rutgers to name just a few. The Endowment requests research projects on certain hot topics such as Botrytis, Thrips or honeybee die-offs. Here are a few of the projects going on at Clemson:
Katie Bennett, (pictured above with James Faust PH.D) a Clemson graduate student, talked to our visiting group quite a bit about the work they have been doing with calcium. Calcium, as you will recall is the mineral that makes our bones and teeth strong. Well calcium also seems to have a great effect against Botrytis. They have done a lot of studies using calcium and control groups, and they have found that calcium inhibits the development of Botrytis. Currently, farms in South America use fungicides to battle Botrytis. These cost $170.00 per acre. Using calcium costs 1.71 per acre.
Honey Bee Deaths
Dr. J.C. Chong, also employed by Clemson, has an extensive study going on with honeybees. The current theory espoused by environmental activists and some bee experts on honeybee die offs is that insecticides used by cut flower and flowering plants growers eventually end up in the bee and kill the bee. Here is the supposed flow cart - Insecticides are sprayed on the plant. They end up in the soil, are drawn up the roots and they are absorbed by the pollen and nectar, both of which bees come in contact with.
Neonicotinoids, the active ingredient in some insecticides, is receiving adverse publicity in the mainstream media. There are demonstrations all over the country and companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s are receiving the brunt of the negative publicity. Still, there is no proof that the neonicotinoids are to blame. That’s why AFE is sponsoring this study with Clemson. Dr. Chong is trying to measure levels of neonicotinoids in pollen and nectar, expose bees to these active ingredients underneath a tent and then measure the amount of bees that die, and the amount that live at various ranges of exposure. Upon completion of the study, Dr. Chong will write a paper and also host a webinar to explain his results. The Horticultural Research Initiative and USDA have also funded Dr. Chong for this study with AFE. There are three other universities around the country doing bee studies also. Once the webinar gets scheduled, we will let our customer know, in case they want to take part in the webinar.
Using VIGS Technology to Increase Flowering of Roses
Clemson Grad student, Johnathan Windham, is working with a garden rose variety known as “Old Blush.” The gene that stops the bush from re-blooming is broken, so the plant keeps re-blooming. Mr. Windham is trying to recreate this broken gene in other varieties to make other also re-bloom. This is not GMO, for they are only breaking existing genes, not making new genes.
Daily Light Integral Maps
Dr. James Faust recently completed an Updated Daily Light Integral Map for the entire United States. In the past, a farmer that was deciding what crops to plant in what field would walk out to the field with a light meter and measure light intensity for 5 minutes or so, and then based on what his/her light meter said, would make a decision about what crop to plant. This light map gives that same information, just more accurately and for every position in the country. AFE didn’t fund this, but Clemson presented this to our trustee group, and I felt it was interesting enough to pass along. The light map in the US had not been updated for a long time, and was overdue for an update. Last time they did this Hawaii and Alaska weren’t even included on the light map. If you know someone that would be interested in this information, email the professor at email@example.com
Understanding Botrytis Resistance to Fungicides
Dr. Schnabel laments what is happening with fungicides in the flower business. These fungicides are overused by flower farmers and now the Botrytis disease had mutated and developed resistance to many of the name brand fungicides on the market. Dr. Schnabel says that if a farmer would alternate the various fungicides, that would prevent the Botrytis disease from developing resistance. But what sometimes happens is a farmer will just use the same fungicide over and over, and that’s when the mutation/resistance happens. He has looked at what Florida strawberry growers have done to combat Botrytis. He has taken their ideas and graphed them onto the floral business. He has developed a smartphone app. The app looks at weather data (the farms would have to install a weather station) and uses a computer program to tell the farmer when exactly to apply the fungicide. So, instead of multiple sprayings of a fungicide, the farmer can spray more sparingly. The app knows when the danger of Botrytis exists. So this will drastically reduce spraying of the fungicide, reducing both costs and also preventing the disease from mutating, or at least slowing down the pace of mutations.
AFE funds many other studies at many other universities, all to benefit the floral industry. If you would like to invest in the floral industry by donating to the Endowment call me at 201-599-3030. Donations do not have to be large. How about a 5 year pledge of $10 per year?
President, Hillcrest Garden, Inc.