When You Least Expect It By Tim Hodson

Our annual California Pack Trials expedition turned up some real surprises this year.

When we boarded the plane in Chicago on a dreary day in late March, the stock market was still trying to figure out which end was up, and all anybody read or heard about on the news was the country’s economic doom and gloom.

Because of all of the negativity swirling around, our Pack Trials expectations were not very high. We figured the mood would be a bit subdued, there would be fewer new variety introductions and we just wouldn’t be seeing that many people this year.


Lo and behold, by the time our plane landed in California, not only was the sun shining, but the whole industry seemed to be following suit.

During our seven-day journey, as we traveled from Encinitas all the way up to Gilroy, it was incredibly refreshing to see the number of intriguing new introductions from the breeders and talk to the bigger-than-expected turnout of growers and retailers.

Now, I know the overall economy is still trying to recover, but the momentum we heard about in California seems to be catching on. From what I am hearing from GPN readers as well as readers of our sister publication, Lawn & Garden Retailer, sales through Mother’s Day weekend have been pretty robust nationwide. Let’s hope that trend continues throughout 2009 and into 2010.

You Can Still Tune In

We also debuted “Hort TV @ Pack Trials” on our website, www.gpnews.wpengine.com.

During our stops, we videotaped many of the breeders as well as some of the manufacturers talking about their latest varieties or new product introductions that were on display in California.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to watch “Hort TV @ Pack Trials” yet, all of the videos are still on our website, www.gpnews.wpengine.com.

The May edition of Hort TV also included a brief recap of many of the things we saw while we were touring the Golden State. You can still watch that on our website too.

Our 2009 Pack Trials report begins on page 14, and we’ll have even more coverage in the July issue of GPN.

Tim Hodson

Tim Hodson is the editorial director of GPN and Big Grower. He can be reached at thodson@greatamericanpublish.com

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