Plant Materials Center update: April 21, 2022

Field Cleanup 4.21.22
Field Cleanup 4.21.22

Here are 5 things that you should know about the PMC for April 21, 2022:

Sales

Sales continue to run 36% above this time last year. New sales have been decreasing which is normal for later April.

The PMC has started its cooler reduction sale as usual for this time of year. It is a price reduction that ranges from 5% to 20% based upon dollar volume. That has created a surge of new orders this week and will reduce the number of leftover plants at the end of the season. There is still a good variety of stock so it is not too late to get plants.  Contact Jacquie to find out what is available.

End of Season

The PMC aims for shutting its cooler down and ending the sales season in early May. The weather becomes warmer and drier (usually) making it more difficult for newly planted plants to establish. The stock that remains in the cooler has been in cold storage long enough. Prolonged cold storage reduces the vigor of plants and survivability.

CD Plant Sale Round Table

On Tuesday Jacquie participated in a virtual plant sales roundtable for conservation district staff. It was well attended and provided an opportunity to share one another’s plant production and plant sales experiences.

Jacquie learned about the processes and challenges associated with conducting annual plant sales. Plant sale staff learned more about the PMC, what it can offer and what it cannot do. Hopefully, those lessons will continue since greater understanding between the nursery and its customers reduces the unexpected.

Gravel Beds

Assistant Manager John Knox has been researching the use of gravel beds as a way to extend the bare root planting season for bare root seedlings. A variety of seedlings are planted in pools filled with pea gravel where they grow through the summer. They are watered via soaker hose and as the roots hit the air pockets between the gravel, they branch creating a more fibrous root system. That allows them to be successfully pulled out and planted earlier in the fall than one can do with traditional bare root seedlings.

This method provides a cost-effective bare root alternative to using containerized plants for fall planting. The stock produced in the last 2 years has been used in a variety of test plots. A limited number and species of plants will be available to purchase this fall for the first time. Please contact John or Jacquie to learn more and perhaps try these plants in your fall-planted project.

Upcoming

Field cleanup is on its last day. The PMC will turn its attention to transplanting on Monday, weather permitting.

Over a 2-week period over 250,000 plugs and small seedlings will be planted into a transplant bed to grow for one season and harvested and sold next season as plug-1’s or 1-1’s, or 2-1’s. Plug-1’s are small plants propagated and produced in plug trays in a greenhouse and planted and grown in a transplant bed for 1 season. 1-1’s are 1-year-old bare root seedlings transplanted and grown in a transplant field for 1 season and 2-1’s are 2-year-old bare root seedlings transplanted and grown in a transplant bed for 1 season. When these plants are planted in a lower density bed, they produce more roots and stem caliper than those grown from seed in a seed bed and can perform better in more stressful sites. They also cost more. One should consider the site and species to determine if the extra cost is warranted.

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

Jim Brown
Director of Nursery Operations