Downy mildew on imaptiens - how will your business be affected in 2013? Are you going to offer impatiens or push an alternative? Both? Do you anticipate selling fewer impatiens? Business as usual?
Here's our resources and advice page that looks back at what happened in 2012 and advice for next year.
Great question! We expect to sell many, many less. Our primary sales region (the greater Washington D.C. area) was hit pretty hard this year (spring and fall) so we expect it to be a huge issue for landscapers, retailers, and homeowners. We're struggling now with how many to grow. We think we'll sell out, but how responsible is it to sell something that is expected to fail? We're offering alternatives and have a preventative spray program planned for the few we do grow. We've also talked with our vendors about their spray programs to make sure our program meshes well with theirs.
I'm astounded by the number of retailers and landscapers who don't know about the disease yet - we have a long way to go to make sure our customers and their customers are well informed. Thanks for the link!
I am concerned that the few alternatives will not come close to selling like single impatiens. There are literally whole neighborhoods in the Houston, Texas area with 100+ year old Live oaks shading most yards and esplanaides where hundreds of thousands of single impatiens are planted every year. My small retail operation only grew 24,000 in 6" containers and I always sold out in 2-3 weeks in early Spring every year. This is a sad situation. Same applies for the Coleus problem along the same lines. Now, even the "Versa" seed Coleus that were touted as mildew resistand suffer from outbreaks. I have been complaining for years that breeders need to quit trying to come up with every flower color under the rainbow for every species of plant marketed and instead concentrate on new offereing that were more disease resistant and required less PGR's at the wholesale level. A good example of a job well done are the newer roses that have been produced in the last 15 years. Down this close to the Gulf Coast with our high humidity one had to spray their roses at least once a week 9 months of the year for blackspot. Now you plant most of the newer varieties, water them in and walk away. I planted some at our Church 5 years back and have never sprayed one time and they look beautiful.
South Florida was hit last year, and our planting season is just starting again. We are not selling Impatiens this year and telling our Customers that seeing them available in the Box and elsewhere is an indication that they are not concerned with their success as gardeners. We are trying to switch Customers to alternatives, but it is too soon to say how well we are succeeding.
Thanks for your insight, guys. Paul and Erik, what alternatives are you offering?
We haven't got hit hard yet with this problem, but we are cutting back this year by 40% and adding Torenia to our program along with more begonias and New Guinea Impatiens. This year is going to be tough by far. Wheres that crystal ball.
Begonias far outsell Impatiens for us, so that's an easy sub in our region. Then Coleus and Sunpatiens. We're also offering other items in smaller numbers (unless customers book them in time to change production) - Torenia, Porphyracoma, oxalis, caladiums, Browallia, Ipomoea, and anything else I'm confident I can finish. I saw a few interesting alternatives at the Rakers trial last month - Salvia splendens and Hypoestes. The salvia was blooming its head off and the polka dot plant looked about as good as it could given it's rather drab natural appearance. I also think Perennials are an option that isn't being discussed much currently. Heuchera, Heucherella, Hosta, Lysimachia, Ajuga, Ranunculus, Hypericum, Ceratostigma, Helleborus, Tricyrtis, Carex, Chasmanthium, and on and on. Then there are foliage and tropicals that I'm also not hearing in any conversations.
Does it stink that one of our best selling annuals is being sabotaged by a super contagious disease? Absolutely. But, let's focus on proactive solutions rather than the sky falling. Maybe we can use this to finally get folks to stop irrigating their annual beds with turf rotors (which isn't good for anything in my area). Let's show gardeners the fun alternatives to Impatiens - maybe it will spill over into an openness to try other sun options as well. Let's get out in front of it so that our customers and their customers are informed and have realistic expectations. I think quietly continuing to sell Impatiens as if nothing's wrong is like leading a blindfolded customer to a cliff and hoping they don't fall off it.
Great, perspective, Paul!
As a wholesale operation we don't grow any regular impatiens thankfully! I see this Downy problem as an opportunity for retailers to build a better communication with their supplier. I've talked with a few growers who are planning to grow the same amount of impatiens as last year using a fungicide program as a crutch. If your a contract grower and your broker has you growing the same amount or more impatiens this year ask them how many their growing.
We're selling more New Guinea Impatiens, Wax Begonias, Torenia, Salvia, and Petunias.
I so agree with Paul! Well Said It does stink but there are so many other plants out there to offer. It is our job to offer other options. If you think about there are alot of other plants to choose from. It won't be the end of the world. Some people will be very disappointed, but yet will appreciate us informing them and they will have to decide if they want to take the chance that they could get this disease. It is just a matter of time and they will come up with a cure.