State of the Nursery Industry

While exhibiting at New England Grows and MANTS, I spoke with many individuals across all facets of our industry.  These conversations compelled me to share what I heard, and have also seen for myself, about the state of our industry today.  From these talks, I know many of you are aware, too,  that there is a tree shortage going on.  However, even though 2.5” and 3” trees are almost non-existent, I am receiving more quotes for larger jobs than in previous years.  There will need to be a generous amount of flexibility with these because there will not be enough of certain trees to supply demand.  I have also seen prices creeping up.  This is no surprise since basic economics tells us when supply is low and demand is high, prices increase.  2017 will be an interesting year.  I believe relationships at all levels and a positive outlook will be critical factors for success.  Since our entire industry is affected by this, not just one company or one geographic area, we all need to pull together, think outside the box and work cohesively to get our jobs done.  I personally feel 2018 will show signs of inventory coming back.  There will be some tight spots but, as a whole, I think the pain will ease and start the road to recovery.  The big question will then be, “What did I learn from this struggle?”

In addition to the recent trade shows, I also attended the mid-Atlantic Short Course in Virginia Beach 2 weeks ago.  It was an excellent conference with relevant courses.    Attendance was high and the classes were full of positive information.  For me, the biggest take away was that Abby Farms is right on track with our mission of sustainability.  The majority of the conference was in one way or another tied to the practice of being sustainable.  A recent survey revealed the top 3 characteristics that millennials were looking for in companies with which they do business.  Whether landscape and maintenance, food scape, storm water management or Permaculture, the common thread was that they wanted to do business with a company that practices sustainability.   There is a large movement toward this and rightfully so.

All of this exposure around the industry over the last 2 months has me believing 2017 will be tough.  But, overall, our industry is healthy and thriving; especially with the struggles we had several years back.  It is refreshing to see the comeback!

Abby Farms Holding Yards – Designed in our Customer’s Best Interest

We are in the process of digging our B&B trees for 2016 sales. We have several thousand pre booked for spring and the rest is for general availability. Here at Abby Farms we do things just a little different than some other farms. My experience is that most farms dig trees and hold them above ground for spring and early summer sales. We are digging approximately 28,000 to 30,000 trees. Once they are dug we move them to our massive mulch beds where we dig holes in the mulch and set the root ball in just like when you plant the tree. This helps protect the root ball from extreme conditions, heat or cold. We put a jacket around the root ball made of a material like a weed barrier. This stops the tree from rooting into the mulch. We then run drip irrigation lines over the root balls. This system allows us to hold our trees throughout the year which gives our customers a continuous supply of trees. They don’t have to switch to containers or another farm mid-season or worse yet mid job. When the trees are placed in the mulch beds they are put in rows just like in the field. If our customer would like to tag their own trees or bring an architect out, we do not have to run all over looking for trees. It is just like tagging in the field.

This system requires more work on our part, but we feel the convenience to our customer makes it worth doing. We also believe it is much better for the trees to have their roots protected. With a more consistent temperature in the root zone we regenerate our roots in the winter and our customer gets a hardened off tree. This will reduce mortality on the job which reduces warranty work and will allow our customer to make more money. It is also better for the canopy to have space when they flush in the spring rather than having them ball to ball in a yard with an impulse sprinkler on them trying to keep them watered.

We would love to have you come out and see our operation for yourself, and see the advantages of buying our chemical free trees that are maintained and protected by the best system possible. Please call Doug Miller to schedule a tour.

Doug Miller
240 388 0700