The PMC Update for September 9, 2021
Sales remain very strong. There is not a new sales report to share but the most recent one from August 23, 2021, showed sales at $703,398 compared to $385,760 at a comparable date last year. That trend is continuing, plus there are inquiries about notably larger orders in the years to come. Some of that has already materialized in the form of orders for spring 2023 and 2024; these are significant increases for orders for over one year out. In addition, there are a few inquiries about even larger orders for that time frame and beyond. Some of these large projects have important questions to answer before moving forward, but if they do move forward and some of them go to the PMC for planting stock, the PMC needs to look at what it is going to take to ramp up production to meet demand.
Additional Potential Increases in Demand
Most of the inquiries the PMC has received about increased demand for plants over the next few years have primarily centered on stream restoration. Reforestation could drive up demand much further.
International and national tree planting initiatives such as the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Tree Initiative, the Bonn Challenge, the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and the US One Trillion Trees Interagency Council all aim to increase reforestation with the goal of sequestering atmospheric carbon. This last one has identified 64 million acres in the US that can be reforested and sets a timeline that extends to 2040 for completion. It will require 30 billion tree seedlings, presenting problems for the tree seedling pipeline. Current forest seedling production is at 1.3 billion stems annually in the US. In order to meet the tree planting deadline, an average of 3.8 billion seedlings will need to be planted annually for traditional reforestation practices, fire recovery, and other tree planting initiatives. That is a huge increase.
A previous update noted that there is a shortage of conifer seeds which must be vigorously changed. The cost of infrastructure upgrades will be significant. And most of all, hiring and training all of the additional people required will be perhaps the biggest challenge of all for the nursery industry and the tree planting world. One thing for sure is that nurseries will not be able to foot that bill based upon speculation. Leadership and funding will be needed to drive this forward and time will tell.
Lori has completed the financial reports for August. Since it is only the second month of the fiscal year there is not a lot of comparisons that can be made. There is not any revenue for the year yet but there are a few expenses to look at. One is seasonal labor. There was not a lot of need for a weeding crew last year but there was this year. That expense for the month increased from $1,181 Last year to $10,223 this year. That is a big increase but the weeds had to be managed!
In addition to keeping up with sales, invoicing, and continued weeding, the PMC is busy with irrigation (at a reducing rate), maintaining its disease prevention program, seed collecting and processing, preparing ground for fall seed planting, continuing the gravel bed study, and maintaining the grounds and facilities.
As mentioned above, the PMC has been preparing ground for fall seed planting. That should begin in October and continue as seed becomes available until the start of bareroot harvest. Live stake harvest will start sooner, perhaps as soon as early October. The Willow, Cottonwood, and Red Osier Dogwood cutting blocks will not be dormant by then but they are hardy enough to tolerate early harvest. Early to mid-fall is a good time for some customers to plant live stakes. It looks like there is going to be strong demand for live stakes so additional seasonal help will most likely be brought in to remain on schedule. Even though the start of bare root seedling harvest is further off, preparations are ongoing so that it can start when plant stock does go dormant. With as much demand as there is, it will be important to start as soon as possible.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Jim Brown, WACD PMC Nursery Manager