The Learning Continues By Tim Hodson

When the GPN editorial staff returned from the California Pack Trials in April, our suitcases were loaded with so much information — notebooks, trial books, product catalogs, etc. — we actually had to pay a surcharge because the weight surpassed the airline’s limit. While this really wasn’t too surprising, three of us editors got a pretty good workout hauling our luggage through the airport.

Over the years, Pack Trials has evolved into something much more than just a comparison of the different varieties. Today, Pack Trials is an event like no other. Attendees can still learn about the newest variety introductions (and that is still the major focus), but it also is a preview of so many other things growers can expect from the breeder/marketer companies in the coming year. So after more than 23 stops to see more than 30 companies, you can imagine the amount of information the editors collected while we were in California and had to digest for the magazine.

Because of this evolution and because of the volume of information we have to process, we decided to write our Pack Trials coverage differently this year. In this issue, Catherine Evans, Meghan Boyer and myself take a look at each of the stops along the way from Encinitas up to Gilroy, Calif., so you can get an idea of what was on display this year, including the different types of marketing campaigns, the unique displays and more. Turn to page 27 for a stop-by-stop look at what attendees saw at this year’s trials from visually appealing landscaping and market innovations to “best of the best” programs.

In our July issue, you will be able to read about all of the new varieties we saw on our tour of the Golden State. You will see coverage of the specific varieties that really caught the attention of the editorial staff and what you can expect for 2008.

Hopefully, the June issue with our editorial coverage of the individual companies along with the selected varieties in July will provide you with the knowledge and some of the insight you need to start making all of your plans for next season.

It’s Time To Learn

June and July also are busy travel months, as two of this industry’s largest technical conferences and trade shows will take place — the Southeast Greenhouse Conference and the OFA Short Course.

While these events are always a great opportunity to meet up with old friends and discuss what has happened since the last time we saw them, the real reason we attend these conferences is to learn. And this year, organizers are providing plenty of learning opportunities.

The Southeast Greenhouse Conference will meet June 20-23 in Greenville, S.C., while the OFA Short Course is scheduled for July 14-17 in Columbus, Ohio.

This is the 15th year for the Southeast Greenhouse Conference and Trade Show. It is aimed at helping southeastern growers, retailers, sales professionals and educators “who are dedicated to the improvement of the floriculture industry through education and networking.”

In Greenville, attendees will have the chance to participate in a wide variety of hands-on workshops and educational industry tours targeted specifically at growers in the Southeast. Organizers also are expecting approximately 350 vendors to be exhibiting at the Carolina First Center (formerly known as the Palmetto Expo Center).

OFA — an Association of Floriculture Professionals has scheduled more than 130 educational sessions to help provide growers with the knowledge they need to effectively compete in today’s incredibly competitive marketplace. More than 550 companies will be displaying the latest plant material, equipment, products and services at the Columbus Convention Center, where more than 10,000 people from around the world are expected to be on hand.

Also at Short Course, our sister publication, Lawn & Garden Retailer, will be presenting a special session on the “State of the Garden Industry.” This session is based on proprietary research (co-sponsored by OFA) that will provide growers and retailers with insight into what the current status is of the garden center industry. The session will take place July 17 at 8 a.m.

The Southeast Greenhouse Conference and OFA Short Course are excellent resources that will help provide you with the tools you need to be successful in this marketplace.

Don’t forget, GPN will be exhibiting at both trade shows, so if you are in Greenville or Columbus, don’t forget to stop by and say, “Hi!”

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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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