status of the rose industry
The Indiana-Illinois District meeting was held on September 10 in Collinsville, Illinois at the Gateway Convention Center.
Dr. Keith Zary, formally head hybridizer for Jackson and Perkins and now working for Garden's Alive gave a program on the status of the rose growing industry.
Garden's Alive bought the bankrupt Weeks Roses and Jackson and Perkins (J&P). They immediately fired the CEO, President and CFO of these companies and replaced them with experts in the field of Roses. Keith said the holding company, Blackstreet, who bought these companies just a few years ago paid over $200,000,000 for them. Garden's alive bought them in bankruptcy for $7,000.000.
The holding company who purchased J&P, Wayside Gardens, and Park Seeds knew absolutely nothing about roses or the plant industry and pretty well drove them to ruin.
J&P printed a really nice catalog for 2012 but they have no product to back up the catalog.(this explains why so many have complained about having to wait so long for roses from them.) DR. Zary said it appears they'll have nothing through 2015 as they've not contracted for any product through then.
Weeks and their hybridizing staff are pretty much intact and will be able to continue to supply retailers with current and new rose varieties.
The major change is only in their testing fields which were moved to Tipp City, Ohio. They'll be concentrating on developing exceptionally disease resistant and cold hardy varieties including hybrid teas. This is something they couldn't do in California.
As an example, 10,000 test seedlings were planted outdoors in Tipp City last year to test for winter hardiness and disease resistance. Of these only 10 survived the cut.
Rose breeding will now be done in the Midwest in keeping with the public's demand for these types of roses.
All roses will now be sold under the Weeks name.
Keith said all roses will be own root.
Grafting is very labor intensive and current immigration policy makes it difficult to obtain cheap labor.
He said the major problem with the rose industry was due to the building bust. Fewer new homes means less need for landscaping.The growers were losing money because of having to pay mortages on unused land. In some cases over half of the growing fields were not being used.
Considering that J&P was selling 50,000.000 roses a year until very recently, that's quite a downfall for them.
I have noticed I've not seen any or very few J&P branded roses in the garden centers for a few years.
Star Roses/Conard Pile is getting out of the rose growing business and will license out the growing of their product. They're still a strong company due to the success of the Knock Out line of roses.
Were it not for that they'd be out of business also.
The AARS testing group will probable be defunct soon. as rose testing is being done in house by the growers.
Keith's program was more on the current status of the rose growing industry as opposed to roses in general. Anyone thinking they'd get a heads up on what rose were in the pipe line were disappointed but his talk was very enlightening as he explained why so many big name growers are going bankrupt.
Overall though, the future looks good. Consolidation in the industry has strengthened the few remaining growers and the changes they've made further helps them.
These large holding companies bought them and pretty well ruined them.
Was not aware Garden's Alive owns so many mail order garden and plant supply companies. They pretty well own the mail order plant indistry.