The Rest Of The Story…

The two marketing plans I was talking about in the last issue of the Quarterly never did work out.
After finally getting to actually talk to the buyer of the big florist that I had sold to for 3 years, I was told  “Because those South Americans don’t pay their workers hardly anything, and their flowers are so cheap.”  they just couldn’t pay me what I was asking for mine. Not only did this affect me, but 2 other ASCFG growers from Iowa as well, and probably others too.
The plan B didn’t work out either. That wholesaler was in the process of moving to a new facility and the idea for him to stop at my farm and pick up flowers never came together.
The good news is sales at my new farmers’ market have more than doubled from my old market and my other florist sales have almost doubled as well.  All in all, what looked like a disaster in May turned out okay. I’m still going to strive for that truck that pulls up to my door and picks up all my flowers every week! I know I’m a dreamer.
If you didn’t attend the Midwest Regional meeting in Lawrence, Kansas, you missed a great time!  Thanks to Lynn Byczynski, the Henrys, the Pendletons, and Ted Carey at Kansas State for all their wonderful hospitality.
And, don’t miss out on another great time! Be sure to attend the ASCFG National Conference in San Jose the last week of October! It’s going to be a lot of fun and as always, very educational.                                  

One of the discussions that I was involved in at the Regional Meeting was about growing lilies in crates, and are they really profitable. For those of us smaller growers who are  buying only a few hundred at a time and who can’t sell the cuts for more than $1.25 a stem, it might not be worth the trouble.
For example:  I bought a cut lily sampler collection because of the 10 varieties I could get as opposed to having to buy hundreds of a couple varieties. I got 200 LA’S and 250 orientals for a total of $300 including freight. By the time I add in the cost of my dirt ($53) and the cost of the crates ($36), that adds up to $389, or 86 cents a bulb.
I had trouble with my bulb counts and about half of my stems only had 2 buds, so I ended up selling all of them in bunches as opposed to single stems, feeling lucky to get $1 a stem for them. I can get only $1.25 for the better stems at my markets, so my total sales for all the stems was $506. That leaves me $117 profit, not counting paying myself for the labor to plant, cut and deliver.
So, is it worth the trouble?
I could get a better price for the bulbs by buying a larger number of one variety, and in my markets I discovered that the variety really doesn’t matter, they like pink or white. To customers, all whites are ‘Casa Blancas’ and all pinks are ‘Star Gazers’. That would cut my bulb cost by 1/3 or more, giving me $200 profit, so that’s a little better, and that is what I’ll do in the future.
For those of you with markets where you can get $2 or even $3 per stem, then your profit becomes $400 or more on those same bulbs. Much better!  Much more worthwhile.  Some crops I look at as a trade-off too. I make a lot of money on some  crops like lisianthus, sunflowers and zinnias, and not so much on others, but I like to have the variety available for my customers; I look at it as balancing out in the end.
    So be sure to sit down and figure out just what your costs are and if growing lilies in crates is profitable enough for you.