Talk to any nurseryman and they will tell you that the plant industry is in trouble. The recent hurricane activity assures us that plant prices are going to increase. You will also see less variety as nurserymen try to cut cost by growing best sellers. This trend of cutting cost has already been noted by many who claim droughts and flooding as a cause. Dealing with hurricane damage to our oil industry is even more concern as petroleum prices increase.
Plastics are made from petroleum products. Each plant is grown or transfered to a plastic pot called a liner. Liners have increased in price over the past couple of years forcing plant prices to increase. Where plant prices did not increase cost, the grower sacrificed quality. The growing medium for most plants can be altered affecting the mature growth of a plant for the consumer. You pay either way. You make up the loss to the grower one way or the other.
The transport of plants will skyrocket as gas prices increase due to the interruption of oil production in the Gulf. The production and refining of oil could be at a stand still for an indefinite amount of time.
Growers can not cut cost further without raising the price and must result to growing less of what is not selling and more of what is popular. At the end of each season, they throw away healthy plants that did not sell. Records are kept determining the next season’s product line. This directly affects every aspect of the industry.
Retail nurseries will be hit the hardest. Many in NC closed due to a lack of buying by gardeners afraid of the drought. As every delivered good increases in price, plants go to the bottom of the priority list. Extra money is spent on the basic needs. Salaries will not increase to keep up with consumer products forcing us to tighten the belt on our spending.
As the bottom trickles up, growers feel the crunch. They must cut quality and/or prices to stay afloat. How will the face of small nurseries look next year, five years, or tomorrow. Who will decide to get out now as the hurricanes bear down on the Gulf of Mexico and the Louisiana coast.
This month is a make or break planning stage for many big growers. They have all but finalized next Spring’s inventory and selections. Some have sent out expensive catalogs with price sheets. Will they be able to keep the prices the same? Will they send out an amendment to those prices in anticipation of operating cost due to the probable extra dollars spent on plastic products? Many wholesale growers are pouring over catalogs making their list in anticipation of 2009 sales. Will wholesale growers back out on orders and force the hand of the big growers to cut cost further? So much is at stake right now as the hurricanes line up in the Atlantic.
What will you do? Will you pay more and keep buying your plants?