CNGA LooseLeaf August/September 2018

12 colorad o LooseLeaf August/September 2018 Photo courtesy of Welby Gardens Having a crystal ball to forecast how many seeds you need to produce enough plants to satisfy customer demand would be nice. Instead, successful greenhouse growers rely on good data and observations from past seasons. Whether using sophisticated custom software or simple spreadsheets, growers need to consider many factors to accurately calculate the timing and quantity of seed orders. “The 30-second answer to how to calculate seed orders is to use software programmed to track when and how many seeds germinate. The program will automatically total up our need for seeds if we want to produce the same amount of plants in the future,” said Welby Gardens Production Manager Dan Gerace, CGG. To determine the number of plants to produce over the next year, the Welby Gardens staff looks at historical sales and considers future trends. The sales history tells them what quantities of plants sold during different weeks, and trend analysis helps them forecast customer demand—whether it will remain the same, decrease, increase or even shift in timing. “We have lots of different plantings of the same crops to make sure we always have fresh material. For example, if we are planning to grow 500 flats, we usually don’t plan for all 500 to be ready on one date. We do a few batches of them, starting during different weeks, hitting a peak of production and tailing off at some point in the season,” Gerace said. Welby Gardens begins looking at each year’s sales numbers after June 30 when the spring selling season is over. The staff keeps track of how many plants of each variety were sold, and whether all flats sold well or lingered on the bench. Then, the company expands their look to a three-year sales history to spot sales trends. Based on those numbers, the company determines if it should produce more or less for the coming year. Trends can be manipulated a bit with targeted OF SEED ORDER ING The Art SCIENCE &