The Year’s Not Over Just Yet By Tim Hodson

The year is not over yet, but I think it’s safe to say 2007 has been quite a year. For many growers, 2007 has been incredibly challenging. First, there was the crazy spring weather, followed by reports of pretty good sales going into the summer months, then there were the devastating drought conditions in the south and west—and then, last month’s fires ravaged southern California. It really makes you wonder what will happen during the winter months.

Some of the other trials that growers and retailers have faced throughout the year include skyrocketing fuel prices (as this issue went to press, oil prices were at an all-time high, approaching $100 a barrel), a stock market that went up and down like an amusement park roller coaster, and the severe impact of a nationwide housing slump.

So What’s Next?

As a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, I am all too familiar with the phrase “Wait until next year!” We are now officially on year 100 since we won our last World Series, but dedicated fans know they have to stay positive and keep looking to the future. So I wanted to know what growers have planned for next year. To do this, we surveyed nearly 250 GPN readers last month to take their pulse and see if they were planning any facility expansions or upgrades in 2008. The good news is that pulse was strong: Many of you do plan to expand in the next 12 months!

Despite the ominous issues mentioned above, many growers actually had a pretty good ’07 and told us they would be “growing” their businesses even more next year. While every grower’s definition of “expansion” or “upgrade” is different, more than half of the readers we surveyed said they would be adding on or making improvements to their growing operations in 2008.

Making these types of improvements can be expensive, but it is an investment in the future. These types of significant investments hopefully will pay off for those growers by allowing them to operate more efficiently, more sustainably and, of course, more profitably.

As the GPN editorial team continues planning for 2008, I’d like to hear about your plans for the coming year. What do you plan on doing differently in 2008 than you did this past year? What will you do the same? Do you have expansion plans? What are you doing to combat the challenges mentioned above?

This kind of feedback is critical for the editors: Your input helps ensure that you find useful information in every issue of GPN. Inquiring minds want to know, so drop me a line at [email protected]

It’s Turkey Time

In spite of the challenging year for our business, there is still plenty to be appreciative of during this month of thanks. As you prepare for parades, football and turkey (and, hopefully, a couple of days off), take a moment to reflect.

From everyone at GPN, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

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