California Dreaming? You Bet! By Tim Hodson

Even though it is only February, the GPN staff is deeply immersed in our preparations for this year’s Pack Trials. It’s an easy thing to do when the thermometer has plummeted below 0¡ F in the Chicago, Ill., area, and it is 72¡ F in San Diego, Calif. In case you didn’t know, the 2007 California Pack Trials will take place April 14-22 throughout the Golden State.

Last year, it seemed like Pack Trials was one endless rainstorm with a few mudslides sprinkled in here and there. Team GPN (all six of us) traversed the entire state in two SUVs, starting in the south and driving more than 1,500 miles of interstate and highways, winding mountain stretches and gravel roads, through the mountains and along the ocean shores to see the industry’s latest varietal offerings.

If you have never been to Pack Trials, I urge you to make the journey out west this April. The Pack Trials experience is like no other. When I try to explain what it is to people outside the industry, it is practically impossible.

I tell them it is a week’s worth of driving to parts of California you never really knew existed to see incredible new varieties, fascinating product displays and unique marketing concepts that breeders have planned for the coming season and beyond. When I see the puzzled looks on their faces, I just try to change the subject, because you really cannot appreciate the enormity and importance of Pack Trials unless you are a part of this industry.

Even though the weather didn’t cooperate last year, the varieties and everything else the breeder/marketer companies had on display were fascinating. Looking back at our 2006 coverage, you can see the depth and breadth of last year’s event. Just go to and search “Pack Trials” to read about all of the things we saw and did last year at Pack Trials, and you can be sure our 2007 coverage will be full of useful information.

The Pack Trials Zone

In March, we will be launching a Pack Trials Zone on our Web site at This is nothing like the Twilight Zone. Instead, it is your resource for this year’s Pack Trials. You will find all of the articles we have written about Pack Trials over past years. The Zone will also include links to all of the exhibiting breeder/marketer companies’ Web sites and a copy of the California Pack Trials Companion.

The Pack Trials Companion is your go-to guide to get you to all of the of the site locations. In it, you will find the maps, driving directions, addresses and phone numbers for this year’s exhibiting breeders. The Companion also contains information on places to stay while you are in California along with restaurant listings for the different Pack Trials regions.

If you do make it to Pack Trials this year and you see the GPN crew at any of the trials sites, please feel free to stop and say, “Hi!” I would love to sit down and talk to you about your experiences. If you don’t see us on the road, just send me an E-mail and tell me all about it, because we are always seeking input for our post-Pack Trials coverage. As always, you can reach me at [email protected]

Pack Trials is about two weeks later this year than it was in 2006 — hopefully, these later dates will translate into nicer weather. But rain or shine, California, here we come, and I can’t wait.


Welcome Jasmina

In January, Jasmina Radjevic joined the GPN editorial staff as an associate editor. Jasmina graduated from DePaul University, Chicago, Ill., last fall. She will be handling a wide variety of editorial tasks for GPN, our sister publication Lawn & Garden Retailer and all of our electronic newsletters. She will also be attending trade shows and other industry events with the rest of the staff, so if you happen to see her out and about, be sure to say, “Hello!”

You can reach her at [email protected]


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Tim Hodson

Tim Hodson is the editorial director of GPN and Big Grower. He can be reached at [email protected]

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