Shipping is in full swing now. It’s time to get our product out, verify our production plans and especially now with labor costs so high, to ID spots where major efficiency opportunities lie.
We’d all do well to quit looking at labor as a budget hemorrhage. In fact, until we consider labor in light of what it really is, our biggest asset, we’ll continue to prejudice our production strategies by considering labor only in light of what it “costs” instead of what it pays. The real question before us is: “How do we use limited labor to maximize profit, consistent with what we do best?” Or, “How do we organize trained staff to focus on what we do well and eliminate all labor on inefficient production - basically quit growing those items?”
The essential task before nursery and GC owners now is to astutely determine what items to continue to grow within the whole mix, and what items to drop. At the same time, one has to continue to innovatively offer new, superior varieties and promote them for their improved landscape value. Leadership in a market requires reasonable risk-taking on new items to keep production up with market trends and buyer interests. Market leaders shape those trends, after all.
As you consider this availability list, realize that we’re at the beginning in the production cycle and have a significant role in deciding what’s offered in the woody liner market. Your purchase decisions are guided by what’s tried and true, but also by what new plants are out there that you can charge a premium for if they offer superior landscape qualities and aren’t available at a box store or at your competitor’s company.
We feel humbled by the trust you place in us to always “do the right thing” and to offer you our best professional wisdom in choices, based on 37 years of experience at this. We say we’re your partner in the business, and we feel that every day - with every box or truck van door we close.
Call us if you have some spare space, and we can help you ID profitable items to make 2018 your most prosperous year ever.
Growers pay close attention to water and fertilizer. And we know that woody ornamental roots require a well-aerated growing mix - at least 20% free air space - to get enough oxygen to promote healthy growthand prevent disease. Yet, how often do growers neglect to seasonally monitor their mix for its porosity –its free air space after irrigation?
If you need to verify the porosity of your own mix, try this easy method. Keep detailed records for various crops, start to finish:
1. Choose several potted plants from a block to test. Tape over the pot drainage holes.
2. Carefully add water to each pot until you just begin to see it at the top of the container mix.
3. Without tilting the pot, remove the tape to catch the draining water for a minute or so.
4. Accurately determine the cc or ml volume of water using a small measuring cup.
5. Using the cm scale on your tape measure, determine your pot dimensions to calculate soil mix cc volume. Formula: πr 2 h (3.14 x average radius squared x mix height) for roughly cylindrical pots like a #1 or #3. For conical pots, the formula is the same, but divide result by 3.
6. Divide the collected cc’s of water by total soil cc volume. Multiply decimal result by 100 to get your percentage of unfilled pore space in the mix. (Air replaces all the water you collect.)
Consider how important AIR is to your potted woody profit experience…
What’s your test result? Most woodies grow best in a potting mix of 20-30% porosity. Root expansion and mix decomposition diminish free air space throughout the growing season, so a mix may test 27% to start, but by season’s end it may decline to 12-15%. If your mix tests below 22-24% from the get-go, consider using a more coarse mix, even if you just cautiously set up a significant side-by-side contrast trial. You’ll be glad you did.
Untrained crews may press down a mix too tightly at potting time. Stacking on a pallet after filling flats – it’s a poor handling practice if your potting mix gets compressed. Summer heat tends to subside after mid-late August. But unless trained otherwise, irrigation staff may complacently rely on irrigation timers instead of lifting pots and flats – using experienced judgment before cranking on the water.
How often do supervisors get riled up if a crew person lets a block of plants dry out too much, but if that same person over-irrigates, hardly anyone notices? In so doing, do supervisors effectively train irrigation crews to drown plants?
Watering crews have your checkbook in their hands. Over-watering containers - not
allowing them to dry down during the irrigation cycle - means a mix has less time with the minimum air needed to support vigorous, healthy roots. Phytopthora and other root infections may develop, getting progressively worse before they’re apparent.
These practices all foster inadequate soil mix porosity - conditions ripe for root disease and failure - literally at the finish line. What changes might you make in your operation if this provokes your concern? How may we help you with more information?
An excellent mix in our propagation experience is 75% coarse bark, no more than 10% coarse peat, and 15% perlite or pumice. You may wish to evaluate 90% coarse bark + 10% coarse peat. Baled bedding plant mixes, used for vegetable starts and plugs, are too expensive to use in large pots. But with thoughtful irrigation practice, as long as you incorporate slow-release fertilizer and include calcium, magnesium and micro-nutrients, even a pure bark container medium can grow healthy woody plants you’d be proud to offer.
At Heritage, we regularly evaluate our growing media for porosity, EC (soluble fertilizer level) and moisture. Simple methods - using a salt meter, lifting plug trays or pots to judge their moisture level – are easy but critical staff training elements. We closely monitor root development so we send you nothing but the most healthy, white-rooted woody liners at the end of the season.
We offer these ideas to help you profit with our plants, so they will grow up like healthy kids and make us all proud. It’s just a tangible, specific example of how Heritage is distinctively different. We aren’t just your supplier; we’re your growing partner.
Which 20% of liners you purchase generate 80% of your profit per acre or square foot? Follow the money. Then refresh your plant menu to grow more of the profitable stuff while you dump the losers.
Effective production management requires growing new, higher profit items to replace outdated ones. Know your key strengths, those that distinguish you from your competition, because that top 20% of items you grow likely pays most of your bills. Conversely the bottom 20% may create more than their share of trouble and are a money pit you could profitably do without.
Does your sales staff have skin in the profit game? If not, your production goals may be oriented for sales, but not necessarily for profit. One could reasonably conclude that sales staff who are commission-paid have an incentive to sell more volume by selling at a loss!
Staff who are paid a sales commission without consideration for profit margin will resist efforts to drop popular items they sell in big volume, but at an unacceptably low margin. This problem has to be fixed before
This hard work is not a hobby enterprise. Cash is our goal, so we must all grow fewer losers while we annually restock the pipeline to update our product mix. Like produce at the grocery, the line-up has to be fresh in order catch customers' imagination.
In looking at your production mix, consider the Pareto Principle, or “The 80/20 Rule” It’s named for an astute Italian economist who observed a basic, widespread phenomenon: 80% of a result is often caused by only 20% of input factors. Check out this link for more detail than the brief points below: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Pareto-pr...
The Pareto principle … can be interpreted to say that a minority of inputs results in the majority of outputs. Here are a few examples of the Pareto principle in action:
• 20 percent of employees produce 80 percent of a company’s results.
• 20 percent of a given employee’s time yields 80 percent of his/her output.
• 20 percent of a company’s investments produce 80 percent of its investment profits.
ASK us for help to keep your production list fresh and interesting. Give us a call for help with items to rebalance your plant portfolio.
What's the bid deal with native trees & shrubs?
Increasing labor costs for landscape maintenance, and inevitable water rate increases will keep pushing demand for well-adapted, flexible-use native plants of all kinds.
• Native trees, with their wide range of character and bloom times, enhance native insect pollinator habitat, further enhancing native songbird populations that feed on native insects.
• They’re not invasive, causing economic harm and unreasonable labor costs for chemical applications or removal.
• With widespread seedling selection and deliberate breeding work in the recent 10-15 years, many new native varieties are readily available and we grow them for you. So many new redbuds, dogwoods, oaks, and blackgums... There are columnar, dwarf, weeping, variegated… hybrids and mutations … it can be daunting to sort through the new ones to grow only the finest that are truly distinctive. Count on us; we do that for you.
We carry more than 50 native species and many of their cultivars.
Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei
As the big holiday season comes and goes, the work remains. So whether we use this period of relative calm for more work or more festivities than usual, it’s always a question of a wise balance, right? No matter where you are on that spectrum, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season, with prospects of a prosperous new year. Since Jolly and I have capable and reliable staff, we get to sneak off more than is probably good for us on the travel agenda. But we have to get out while we can, or time slips by … and grandchildren grow up too fast.
The response to our availability lists is always gratifying; in fact, it surprises us how effective it is. We intuitively expect that having been in business for so long, people will call without a prompt, or add to orders on their own. But we tend to forget that there are so many “sales messages” out there, if ours is not among them, we and some of our clients can become a bit too complacent.
No room for complacency in this season. No space for hesitation, even if it’s deciding what NOT to grow, whom NOT to buy from.
So as you consider your sense of available space, labor and your client needs for 2018, consider us your primary supplier of unusual deciduous woody ornamentals. No other outfit in the country offers our wide selection of not just seedlings, but grafted stock, tissue-cultured liners and transplants, and cutting-grown liners. When we look at our own reports, sometimes even we are surprised at its diversity of varieties and sizes. It takes a well-oiled, efficient operation to put a list like this into your hands, and the exceptionally well-rooted, vigorous plants that back it up.
Please pick up the phone or drop us a line if there’s something special we can do for you this winter, or stop by our MANTS booth #515, 517 so we can discuss what works best for you. Mark will give a talk among the SNA presentations preceding the show, so rattle his cage there too, if you’re in town early. Or hit him up for a beer and crab cakes!
September was a record-breaking sales month for us as your liner grower, so we suspect most in the trade have had a robust sales season to match. The winter trade shows will be an exercise in locating what others have over-sold or promised and can’t deliver. If you’re in this lamentable situation, give us a call. Discover what others know, namely that we inventory VERY carefully. Our process works this way:
Reliability is a critically important supplier trait. If you cannot depend on getting what you confirm, you risk being unreliable for your own clients and your sales may suffer if people question your ability to deliver, or the counts are off, sizes not there, or timing is dicey. Why deal with that in addition to all the usual stuff we have so little control over? At some point, reliability is a function of basic integrity.
We have a dependable crew, strong company leadership within manager ranks, and Jolly and I are in this for the long haul. Although we’re age 65, we are not retiring since we have such strong horticultural interests, farm development plans, and ambitious, dependable, experienced staff. We have YOU, our wonderful friends, loyal customers, and the most fascinating palette of woody deciduous liners in the trade. What more can we be thankful for than these lifelong passions and friends? Our farms are paid for, and we can focus exclusively on our customers, supplier relationships and our first “customers” – our employees. We built the company with their career interests in mind, their God-given talents and natural energy and enthusiasm for doing what they love, and just for whom they ARE. This is the stuff of a fine life and career. We love it and will keep loving it, growing for you.
Keep warm and safe this holiday season, and find some good blues or jazz music to dilute all the reindeer tunes!
There’s a shortage of broadleaf evergreen trees that can be grown without high maintenance costs in the arid West, where summers are hot, winters cold, and soils alkaline.
Shortages are the mother of opportunity, so Heritage Seedlings & Liners, in collaboration with oak expert Dr. Allan Taylor, for the first time brings to market a trademarked line of grafted, native Southwest oaks for water-wise gardens. Our grafting assures you of genetic uniformity and adds another desirable feature: those selections that normally sucker lose that trait to flourish under nursery care as single-trunk specimens.
Natural crosses of up to seven different native Western white oak species, each of our selections is unique in leaf form, color, growth habit, and mature size. They’re adapted to very low maintenance or unirrigated landscapes and help to fill the urgent need for small trees that can be safely planted in an attractive fire buffer zone around suburban homes and commercial sites. As street trees, they can help to relieve city maintenance budgets.
Dr. Taylor, who has collected oaks around the American Southwest for over 30 years, has a personal preference for those with bluish leaves and evergreen habit. Most selections are relatively small trees - ideal for city lots.
These native oaks of the American Southwest offer homeowners, garden centers and nurseries fascinating, delightful ornamental trees with upside profit potential. Unlike oaks of the American East offered in the wholesale nursery trade, these selections are regionally adapted Southwest natives, grafted so you don’t have to reckon with frustrating seedling variability. Best of all, each is uniquely attractive – far more than their rock-hard constitution might suggest. And finally, they thrive with regular nursery care, even in the Pacific Northwest.
That’s how we feel now that we have our Farwest Show availability list complete and order confirmations going out the door. We take a lot of effort to make inventory accurate so when we confirm your order we feel confident of our ability to ship what we confirm. This helps you more confidently plan your own work - whether grafting, potting up, field planting, or some combination.
Our aim is to make your Heritage order one you can feel confident about, that you make a solid profit on.
Dependable. Reliable. Accurate. No surprises. These are the fundamentals we’ve grown this enterprise on for 35 years, so we’ve had lots of practice sharpening our wits and wisdom.
Check out our Availability List/Catalog to find current availability anytime, updated so that you see what’s actually available when you order. We’ve made a determined effort to grow more of what you regularly ask for, but don’t hesitate once you have a solid idea of what you need.
We can create a “standing order” of those basics to help
protect your annual interest. Let us know.
As we propagate new items and re-balance our plant portfolio to reflect what’s in solid demand, you know we’re always on the forefront of offering the newest and best varieties in woody plants. Just today we learned that two of our new varieties, Quercus ‘Mesa de Maya’ and Corylus ‘Burgundy Lace’ earned Best of Show and runner up… basically both first and second places in the Farwest Show New Varieties Showcase!
Come by our booth #9037 to see them. Better yet, chip your card in for our closing-hour drawing to take one of these choice prizes home with you on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, while you’re there we can review your order details personally, offer you ideas for other items to enhance your sales, or answer any questions you may have about shipping, growing hints and grafting. Or, just stop by to update us about your family and what fun you’ve been up to recently. Farwest is a family reunion after all!
Need last-minute free passes? Let us know…
As we consider the prospects of the new growing season, there are a few items you can confidently order for June shipping and more for pickup at the nursery. Give this list a quick review and call us promptly, or shoot us an email with your wish list. After 36 years, we pack and ship via UPS with literally hundreds of “man years” of experience to guide us and assure you of fresh, prompt delivery. Just let us know the exact day that you can best receive the boxes and open them promptly upon receipt to let them respire freely. Or tell us when you can come out to the nursery to pick them up. There’s lots of growing season left, with the longest day upon us coming up in late June.
For this new season, our preliminary inventory shows almost all items in strong supply prospects, but it benefits you to call us with your preliminary order as soon as you get a comfortable sense of what you’re going to need. We can revise amounts above or below that later; but like a stock trader, it pays you to put a “floor” under your projected needs and profit strategy and then revise your order as the season goes along if you need to. Book your minimum order as soon as possible to protect your supply priority position. It it’s an annual need, let us know so we can make that special note in our files – a sort of unofficial priority “contract” order for you.
Remember, our professional staff are your partners here in Oregon’s rich Willamette River Valley and if you can manage to visit us sometime this summer or fall, we’d be honored to show you around our greenhouses and production farms with our full attention. Come with lots of questions and an extra camera battery. Honor us with all your specific questions or special requests you have about plant size, varieties, ship date, or minimums. There’s lots to see, but we can’t read minds. Give us a clear sense of what you hope for, so that we organize your tour well and you leave with the feeling that it was your very best use of your time that day.
If you want just skip the plants and go have breakfast or a beer with Mark at the local watering hole to talk business, or both - we can do that, too!
As we ship the final bundles and pots in a banner sales season, we still have broad availability of fine seedling rootstock, 1-2 year grafts, cuttings and tissue-cultured liners! We hope to finish shipping of cold-stored, bareroot and potted liners by mid-to-late April, so this is your opportunity to fill in some blank spots.
Whether you pot them up for fall sales or plant in the field, bring our liners in now to get a head start on your own inventory/cash flow for the year(s) ahead.
Some quick examples to jump-start your imagination ….
Want your plants to flourish this summer? Start with the best in seedlings and huge selection of grafted and cutting/TC-grown items from Heritage.
Mark, Jolly, & Staff