Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nursery and Greenhouse - Challenges and Opportunities IV

This is a continuation of the series on challenges and opportunities for greenhouse and nursery businesses during the current economic downturn and in the near future.

  • Customers desire choice, quality, and a reasonable price. Focus your business on these areas.
  • Energy conservation will continue to be critical as energy prices will rise again in the future. Natural gas more is more stable but expect increases from current levels. Look into green energy sources as government incentives are enhanced.
  • Consider how communication has changed with the expansion of the internet. Social networks are a good example. Take advantage of these new ways to interact with customers in your marketing. Targeted advertising and marketing efforts will be needed. Understand how to use the new media (much of it is free) to your advantage.
  • One continuing challenge is water. Irrigation in containers not well understood and you need to stay abreast of the latest technologies to manage water efficiently.
  • Population issues will continue in this region. This is both an opportunity and a challenge. The challenge is cost of land. The opportunity is an increased customer base with lower transportation cost to reach those customers due to proximity to markets. Expect local advantages to increase in the future. Take advantage of buy local movements and support those movements.
  • Mechanization opportunities exist but still are not cost effective, especially for smaller operations. Where possible, replace labor with mechanization.
  • Immigration reform is critical for the industry to have sufficient labor. Stay politically involved and support nursery and greenhouse groups working for immigration reform.

Gordon Johnson, Extension Horticulture Agent, UD, Kent County

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