Plant Materials Center Update: September 15, 2022

Transplants 9.14.22
Transplants 9.14.22

Here are 5 things that you should know about the PMC for September 15, 2022:

Summer Recap

A few brief highlights from Summer 2022:

  • What do you mean that summer is almost over??
  • The growing season got off to a slow start. The rain and mild temperatures of April, May, and June resulted in reduced initial growth rates. There were a few seed lots that did not germinate well, but that occurs every year when dealing with a wide variety of wild seeds. The most successful plants were the weeds.
  • As the season progressed the plants grew well and caught up. The weeding crew kept at it and will soon run out of weeds to combat. In spite of the weather that favored the development of some diseases, the plants were maintained disease free.
  • Sales have been phenomenal (see the Sales section below). It has been a determined effort to keep up.
  • Irrigation and equipment have been working normally for the most part. However, the only roadworthy pickup the PMC has is experiencing transmission problems (unless one counts the Lincoln the PMC inherited which has some baffling electrical problems).
  • Building and facilities repair and maintenance needs are being addressed.
  • Overall, it has been a pretty good summer at the PMC. This does not happen at a nursery like the PMC without determined effort and perseverance. Congratulations to the PMC staff and employees on a job well done. Now on to harvest!

Financial

The financial reports for August 2022 have been completed. Since it only reflects the 2nd month of the fiscal year not much stands out yet. One thing that might stand out on the Statement of Financial Position is the Net Income which was negative for the month of August. It is actually negative every August due to the seasonality of PMC sales. Almost all of the plants sold from last season (December to May) have been paid for and there will not be much revenue until the upcoming harvest. In the meantime, there will be plenty of expenses.

Revenue

  • The PMC will not post much revenue until after harvest and shipping begin, which is early December.

Expenses

  • Bank and credit card expenses are up as sales increase and more customers opt to pay with a credit card.
  • Fuel is up which probably does not need explanation.
  • Packaging Supplies are up from this time last year due to receiving these materials earlier in the year than usual due to concern over supply chain issues.
  • Seasonal Labor Wages are up due to a significant increase in the minimum wage on January 1, as well as the need to pay more to attract employees. There has also been increased effort in weed control this year, but this larger expense is rewarded later this year and next.

Sales

As of 9/15/22, the PMC has booked $1,221,235 in sales comprised of 184 orders for the upcoming sales and shipping season. That is ahead of last year’s record numbers when sales stood at $716,933 comprised of 166 orders on 9/23/21. Comparing this year to last, sales are 70% greater with a 10% increase in the number of orders.

It is interesting to point out that the average dollar amount per order has increased more than the number of orders. That is important since one of the production bottlenecks is building individual orders. A 10% increase in the number of orders can be managed. A 70% increase in the number of orders would be a big problem.

Determining the cause of such an increase in sales is not easy because it can be attributed to a variety of things. There has been an increase in the quantity and size of conservation projects, as well as an increase in landowner involvement in adding native vegetation to their landscapes to improve wildlife habitat, water quality, soil stabilization, etc. There has been an increased need for plants for wildfire recovery as well.

PMC marketing has been effective in helping to let those looking for native plant materials know what the PMC has to offer and what is available. Jacquie keeps the PMC website current with updated plant availability lists, informational brochures, and new photos and videos of what is going on here and how they are looking. When Jacquie updated the plant availability list recently, the website received 481 visits that day and 1,834 visits the past month. Check it out at www.wacdpmc.org.

Seed Collections

The PMC has been busy all summer with its in-house seed collections.  It started in June with Osoberry and Red Elderberry. As the summer progressed the seeds of a wide variety of species matured. There are too many to list for a brief update like this.

One highlight in this year’s seed collection season was the opportunity to harvest a lot of Western Red Cedar cones. A Whatcom County private forest landowner invited us to come up and collect from trees that are proven winners with a record-setting cone crop. Over 10 bushels of cones were collected and sent off for seed extraction, processing, testing, and storage.  It should yield years and years of seeds for the PMC to use to grow plug-1 Western Red Cedar for the north Puget Sound region.

Upcoming

The big change ahead is the start of the live stake harvest. Unrooted Willow, Cottonwood, and Red Osier Dogwood cuttings do not need to go dormant before harvesting, processing, shipping, and planting. This fall there is much more demand than ever before. An eight-person crew will begin cutting and processing live stakes on October 1. If the numbers processed are insufficient to meet requested availability dates, the crew size will be increased. By the time bare root harvest starts on December 1, the cutting blocks should begin to look harvested.

Fall seed planting will start within a month. A lot more seeds are needed to make it worthwhile to begin and hopefully, there will be some rain by then. Currently, the seedbed is dry and would require supplemental irrigation to prep and plant.

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

Jim Brown
Director of Nursery Operations