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Plant shortages? Find what you need at Far West!

8/8/2013

From our friends at the Oregon Association of Nurseries:

Are you prepared for plant shortages?

 
The Farwest Trade Show is where buyers can discover in-demand plants and take stock of new varieties
 
Over the past 25 years, the nursery industry has seen major swings in product supply and demand. According to reports from several growers and sales representatives, the industry is in the midst of another landscape change.

"Across the board in the industry there are shortages," said John Coulter of Fisher Farms LLC in Gaston, Ore. "Everyone, with the downturn in the economy, cut their production of plants back severely because they weren't selling. We are going to see shortages in the marketplace for the next one to three years."
During the past few years, a number of nurseries have gone out of business, liquidated their inventory, and reduced or stopped production. As a result, the current scarcity of certain trees and plants is likely to carry on into the foreseeable future.

"Commodity items like Gold Mops cypress, container-grown Otto Luyken and skip laurels, and 6/7' and 7/8' Emerald Green arbs are all in tight supply right now," said Mike Pezzillo of McHutchison Horticultural Distributors. Pezzillo is a nursery buyer for one of the largest national brokers to sell Oregon material since the 1970s. "Shade trees have tightened up. There's no doubt that other items will start to become short too."

And what about street trees? General Manager of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. Art Anderson says, "Trees that are successful in the urban landscape are limited in number. The smaller stature, more columnar, smaller-leaved trees that can be successful in an urban site have seldom been grown in large quantities, and they generally take longer to get in the preferred 2-inch caliper size, sometimes 2-3 additional years in the nursery."

Anderson indicated that shortages already exist. "There is potential for most varieties on approved tree lists to be in short supply, including Magnolia, Amelanchier, Stewartia, Ginkgo, upright dogwoods and Quercus frainetto - Forest GreenĀ® oak."

One place the industry can come together to discuss the current market challenges is the Farwest Trade Show, August 22-24, in Portland, Ore. "It's a great opportunity in a short period of time and concentrated venue to get a feel for the pulse of the industry and to find out what things [the industry is] short on," said Matt Gold of Gold Hill Nursery in Hillsboro, Ore. "Farwest allows us to hear about what our customers are wanting, so we can adjust our stock to meet their needs on a personal level."

According to Dave Van Essen of Van Essen Nursery Co. in Lebanon, Ore., the timing of the Farwest Trade Show can provide an outlook on possible future plant shortages: "Because it's in August, when the season is finalized, everyone knows what the year's been like, what's in inventory."

"Buyers are scrambling to find new sources," said Bob Maudlin of Eason Horticultural Resources in Ft. Wright, Ky., "which is putting a strain on production for those nurseries that are still in existence."

In addition to finding suppliers, educational opportunities-and continuing education credits-add value to attendees.
The New Varieties Showcase is a feature of the Farwest Trade Show. It's where attendees can preview the trees, shrubs and perennials that are new to the market, in production and offered for sale by show exhibitors.

Nursery Tours on Tuesday, August 20, and Wednesday, August 21, provide a glimpse of the Oregon nursery industry and introduce attendees to potential suppliers.
Networking opportunities abound as well. The Thursday night Pub Crawl takes in some of Portland's world-class microbrew scene and encourages conversations to continue beyond trade show hours. Women in Horticulture and Young Nursery Professional meetings also encourage establishing relationships with peers in the industry.
For more information on the Farwest Trade Show, visit www.FarwestShow.com.