Plant Materials Center Update: January 5, 2023
Here are 5 things that you should know about the PMC for January 5, 2023:
Happy New Year
Some of the New Years’ Resolutions for the PMC include:
- Finish Harvest: The main task is to get everything harvested before they break dormancy in March. It is anticipated that the PMC will harvest over 2 million plants.
- Send off Farm Operations Supervisor Bill Mulder to Retirement: Bill is going to retire soon and his skills and friendship will be missed. Fortunately, a good replacement, Oscar Arias, has been hired and has been orienting for almost 2 months. Bill will be around to help with continued orientation periodically through the 4 seasons.
- Transplant More Plugs: Due to increasing demand, the PMC has a record number of plugs arriving this spring to be transplanted to make plug-1 conifers for next year’s harvest. It is anticipated that over 300,000 plugs will be planted.
- Plant Record Amount of Spring Seedbed: After the transplant season is finished it will be time to prepare for spring seed sowing. Almost acres of spring seedbed will be planted which is 1 acre more than last year.
- Continue Assessing the Use of Drones in the Nursery: The PMC has been working with Skagit CD forester Nick Kunz on the possibility of using drone imagery to conduct field scouting and inventory using their sophisticated drone and a suite of interpretation software that Nick has discovered. It is still early in the project but some of this amazing software has shown promise.
- Maintain Weed and Pest Control Program: The PMC has worked hard to keep as many weeds as possible from going to seed on the farm. Allowing weeds to proliferate will negate gains made thus far. The PMC has been moderately successful in keeping insects and diseases at bay and continuing that is feasible. The biggest concern is the arrival of new culprits. Three tent caterpillar nests were detected and destroyed last summer which is an indication of a bigger problem in store for this year. The PMC has been warned and prepared should that occur.
- Receive and Process Record Orders for Next Year: From the chatter we have received at the PMC, it looks like the upward trend in demand for native plants will continue. The PMC is ready and will tweak the system as needed to accommodate whatever demand is realized without excessive speculation.
- Above All Maintain Safety, Fiscal Responsibility, and Positive Relations with the Conservation Community: As always, the PMC will maintain a safe and positive work environment for its employees, operate in a manner to maintain profitability, and avoid fiscal liabilities with the goal of providing suitable conservation plant materials for the regions’ conservation community.
Harvest in Full Swing
With the freezing days before Christmas behind us, the PMC is in full harvest mode again and playing catch-up for the week that was lost. There were a few absent employees during the holiday season, but all 20 seasonal employees are currently here and working hard.
The number of plants processed is over 35,000 per day which is where we need to be. The total number of plants harvested this season currently stands at 582,183 or over 25% of the way there.
With approximately 2 ½ months left in the harvest season, the PMC is on track. The big variable is the weather (it would not be farming otherwise). How much time will be lost to frozen ground this winter? Hopefully, none but preventing any future cold snaps is above our pay grade.
As of 1/5/23 sales were $1,587,748. That is an increase from a comparable time last year when sales were $1,419,444 which is good. Current sales are actually down from $1,648,946 on 12/15/22 and that is a bit concerning. Most of that decline is from cancellations which are more than typical for this time of year and a bit frustrating. The PMC will review its cancellation policies before next year’s harvest season to try to reduce that.
Current sales have exceeded the annual sales budget of $1,411,300 by 13% and growing. This sales volume is composed of 300 individual orders, 27% of which are to Conservation Districts worth $431,833 and 73% to non-CD customers with a value of $1,155,914. In spite of the record demand for plants, there is still a lot of stock available. The availability can be found on the PMC website at www.wacdpmc.org, or by contacting Sales Manager Jacquie.
As mentioned in the Harvest section, things are running as planned for the most part which is due in part to the proper functioning of the equipment. Everything is currently running normally. That can change in a moment but for the time being, we are knocking on wood.
Thanks for a Great 2022
2022 was a record-smashing year for the PMC which would not have been possible without the vital support from WACD and its membership. Thanks for all of the help in the past and all of the assistance in the year to come.
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/
Director of Nursery Operations