Possible shortage of young plants may prove profitable for industry

"Laws of supply and demand" should help growers, says HTA

By Matthew Appleby The optimistic early season plant-selling market could be hit by shortages of young plants later in the season, according to HTA business director Tim Briercliffe. But Briercliffe said that this could be a good thing because it could mean price rises. He said: “January and February were pretty good months on a low level but if there’s a bad March, April and May then January and February are irrelevant. It’s been a good start to the year on the back of a good autumn. “Some people have been worried about reserves but they seem to be pretty much the same as last year. “But some liner producers that were left with stock in the past couple of years have cut production, so there could potentially be a shortage of young plants coming into nurseries. This could have a knock-on effect down the system. “Some people in the industry have over-reacted [by cutting growing too much]. One of the things this might do is make plants in less supply more expensive because of the laws of supply and demand.” North Wales-based Seiont Nurseries owner Neil Alcock said: “We’ve grown a lot more on spec this season in anticipation of shortages. In the past couple of years we’ve seen cancellations and reductions in orders because of the downturn and more and more people are growing to order. This means there’s little chance for finishers to respond to demand.” He said heucheras, cordylines and phormiums could run short, adding: “We haven’t seen prices go up yet but we could do with it.” Lancashire-based Northern Liners nursery manager Chris Connah said: “There definitely will be shortages in young plants — there’s no doubt about that. “We increased production of certain lines last year and they sold out by Christmas. There may be some price increases on some lines where there is a general shortage. Then it becomes a sellers’ market rather than a buyers’.” Connah was reluctant to disclose which variety may be in demand for reasons of commercial confidentiality. But he said that perennials would “hold their own” in the coming year and he backed the Berberis Rocket series — ‘Rosie’, ‘Orange’ and ‘Golden’ — as a winner. Coprosma ‘Pacific Night’ is his hot tip for 2007. Northern Liners has the liner exclusive on “the very good evergreen patio plant”. He hopes to sell 5,000 of the plants initially.

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