Plant Materials Center Update: November 10, 2022

Here are 5 things that you should know about the PMC for November 10, 2022:

Cold Weather Necessitates Frost Protection

Northwest Washington experienced some cold weather this week with the temperature dropping to 23° F on Tuesday night. If all of the plants grown here were completely dormant that would not be a problem. However, some species are not dormant yet and were at risk of freeze damage.

The PMC uses a chill requirement to determine how dormant its stock is. When the PMC accumulates 300 hours below 40° F the stock is considered dormant.  At the start of the week there were 140 hours below 40 this fall so far. That is probably more hours below 40 than usual for this time of year but well short of the 300 needed.

The frost protection method the PMC uses in these situations is irrigation. It would seem that when the temperature is falling below freezing the last thing one should do is turn on their irrigation but there is a method to that madness. Irrigation water contains latent heat that is transferred to the plant which buffers it from the intense cold. Irrigation continues until the temperature rises above freezing. So far this week frost control was needed two nights and everything went well. Hopefully, no damage was incurred. The forecast for the rest of the week is for the temperature to remain above freezing so hopefully no more long, cold nights anytime soon.

October Financial Report

Lori has completed the October Financial reports. Revenue for this fiscal year of $42,052 is a little behind last year which was $53,014. That will soon change. The PMC has been processing and shipping a lot of live stakes which should increase revenue from last year when payment is received.

Some expenses continue to remain above last year. Seasonal Labor this year is $64,821 compared to $45,952 last year. The reasons for that are the big increase in the minimum wage, the big live stake harvest this fall, and more weeding that was needed this summer. Packaging is up from last year because the packaging supplies were received earlier due to concerns about the supply chain. A few other costs are also up but fortunately, they are more than offset by increased sales.

Sales

As reported in recent PMC Updates, sales are up. As of 10/31/22 sales were $1,462,586 compared to $786,920 last year.

The number of individual orders has not increased all that much. So far there are 239 orders compared to 213 this time last year. However, the average size of orders has increased.

New Farm Operations Supervisor Starts

As mentioned in previous reports, the PMC’s Farm Operations Supervisor Bill Mulder will retire in the new year. His replacement has been hired and started last Monday. Oscar Arias brings extensive farm and mechanics experience. Bill will be able to orient him for approximately three months before leaving and will occasionally be available to help show Oscar the ropes afterward. Bill has done a great job over the last 17 years and will be missed but if anyone can pick up where he leaves off it will be Oscar. We look forward to working with him for a long time to come.

Harvest

The live stake harvest continues in earnest with a 10-person crew processing thousands of stakes per week. That will continue until the full crew is brought on to begin bare root harvest on December 1. Preparations for that are in full swing.

Packaging and shipping supplies are here, the belt table has been readied, as has much of the other equipment. Most of the 20-person crew needed has been lined up and the PMC will be ready to start.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions. You can find older posts about the Plant Materials Center at https://hub.wadistricts.org/topics/wacd/pmc/

Jim Brown
Director of Nursery Operations