The PMC Update for November 18, 2021

Image: Fall Panorama
Fall Panorama

Skagit Flooding

The flooding in the region this week is probably known by most by now. The Plant Materials Center and staff have been fortunate to avoid being flooded. Many in the area have not been so fortunate.

The PMC may have received floodwaters from the Samish River if the rain did not stop by Monday afternoon. The atmospheric river, as it is being called. dropped 3.74” of rain at the PMC in a few days. Lands farther east in the county received more than that. Sedro Woolley had 5.89” and Concrete 6.62” of rain. Whatcom County got the brunt of the storm with 7 to 8” of rain. Some areas of British Columbia saw even more which is where the headwaters of the Skagit River begin.

Add to that the snowmelt that occurred as a result of the snow level rising from 2500’ to 8000’. The Samish ran over its banks on the east side of Chuckanut Drive and soon spilled over to the west. By the end of the day on Monday, the water was within one-quarter mile of the PMC without much in the way to stop it. Fortunately, a different weather system moved in and it was like a switch was thrown. The wind suddenly changed directions and the sun came out. Some folks have a lot of work and cleanup to tend to and we extend our best wishes to them.

Sales

Sales continue at a record pace. As of November 12, 2021, the PMC has booked $1,254,184 in sales. That is up considerably from a similar time last year when sales were $865,000 and in 2019 when they were $894,000. That’s a 31% increase over last year and a 29% increase over 2019. Sales have exceeded the sales revenue budget of $1,209,000 for the whole year. It is likely that some of these orders will be canceled, but given that there are still four to five months left in the sales season, there is no telling where sales revenue will wind up. However, it is probable that PMC sales will set a new record.

Financial

The main harvest and shipping season has not started yet so there is not much revenue to report on. We have been harvesting, shipping, and invoicing some live stake orders which have increased plant sales revenue over last year. As of October 31, plant sales revenue was $49,354 and on the same date last year it was $34,527.

There is more to report on the expense side of things. Bank and credit card charges are up due to more customers paying with plastic. Farm and nursery supplies are up from last year but a large part of that is that we have been bringing in supplies for harvest earlier than last year. That one probably will remain within budget.

The biggest overage on expenses is seasonal wages. As of October 31, that expense was $45,952 compared to $27,874 this time last year. The main cause for that is the increase in fall live stake orders which is offset by an increase in the revenue associated with it. An increase in  the minimum wage at the first of the year also added to that cost, as well as the increased need for weeding this summer. It should be noted that on the first of the new year minimum wage is set to go up 80 cents/hour.

Aged Receivables for the PMC are at $43,167 and most are deposits with a few at 0-30 days for live stakes that shipped out recently. Deposits are due by December 1 and if they are not paid the customer may lose stock that is sold out and wanted by someone who will pay the deposit. Overall, our customers are doing pretty well at paying deposits since this time last year, aged receivables were $64,245.

Operations

Photo of Lifting Plants
Lifting Plants

Fall seed planting has wrapped up for the season. There are still a few seed lots that could be fall planted but all of the rain we have received made that impossible. They will be stratified and planted in the spring. Over the past two months, 560 pounds of seed at a value of almost $40,000 were planted into 8.3 miles of 8-row seedbed. The live stake harvest has been ongoing.

Photo of Lifting Plants
Lifting Plants

A small crew was brought in on Wednesday to lift and process a small bare-root order. A lot of the plants have not received their full chill requirement to ensure dormancy but the customer needed them and signed a waiver for mortality due to the early lifting date. It was a good opportunity for us to check out the harvest equipment and processes. We discovered that two bearings on the belt table need to be replaced which is better done now.

Full-scale lifting is set to begin on December 1st. A 20-person seasonal crew will be brought on and the best part of that is 18 of them worked here last year. There once was a time when it was difficult to get that many people. Perhaps the increasing minimum wage has resulted in a larger labor force in the area. The equipment is being readied and supplies brought in. There has been a delay in getting seedling bags but there’s a month’s supply from last year which will last until the new ones arrive. Harvest will last until mid-March.

COVID

The PMC is following all current COVID protocols. All unvaccinated employees are required to wear masks indoors and any vaccinated employees need to show their vaccination cards. In addition, the personal distancing and sanitation procedures in place since the beginning are still in place as well as having anyone with any potential symptoms stay home and get tested. Hopefully, everyone remains healthy throughout the season.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Jim Brown, WACD PMC Nursery Manager
https://wacdpmc.org/about-us