GroSouth is billed as the premier exhibition in the south of England for horticulture and has become a firm fixture in the diary as the major end of season trade event.
The show, which takes place on Wednesday 13 November at Roundstone Nurseries in Chichester, West Sussex, attracts exhibitors from all areas of horticulture - from young plants to training and crop protection to irrigation.
Highlights include seminars which will be running throughout the day, best stand awards and tours including a look round Barfoot Energy for those keen to learn about life at the forefront of farm-based anaerobic digestion and producing green energy from crop waste. Others can take a tour of the Roundstone Nurseries' site.
All around the 9ha site are the exhibitors and this year's line up includes Chichester Farm Machinery, natural crop-protection specialist Agralan, polytunnel cover supplier XL Horticulture and nursery software specialist Passfield Data Systems.
Then come the plant specialists - Moles Seeds, Botany Bay, The Northern Liner Company, Fairweather's, Woodland Horticulture, Maple Tree Wholesale Nurseries, Pentland Plants and more.
Other stand holders include Certis, Koppert UK, and crop-protection company Agrovista.
According to one of the show organisers, Roundstone director Peter Cook, last year's show "created a real stir throughout the media and the horticultural industry". More than 130 exhibitors are booked for this year's event and the floor-plan area has been extended to fit new exhibitors in.
He adds: "Spurred on by the enthusiasm, support and feedback, we are making the 2013 show even better. We have been approached by new exhibitors to join those that have already secured their places for an event that is not to be missed."
As a curtain raiser for GroSouth, a study day organised by the Horticultural Development Company (HDC), International Plant Propagators Society (IPPS) and others is being held before the event on Tuesday 12 November. GroSouth is the only show for growers that has such a study day running alongside.
The HDC/IPPS event will include early-evening grower talks on the theme of plant propagation and an evening dinner. Talks will cover container-grown crop propagation, propagation under polythene, rooting hormones and manipulating rooting environments using crop covers and mist.
ADAS principal horticultural consultant John Atwood, meanwhile, will look at weed-control issues including cultural methods and herbicides in propagation areas as well as how to achieve weed-free plug liner production. The talk will cover common nursery weeds, their biology and hygiene. He will also discuss options after Ronstar 2G is banned next June.
"Stocks have already run out, so people wanting to buy will have difficulty," Atwood explains. "It will be difficult for the sector because there are so few alternatives for use under protection. We are looking at alternatives but the problem will be securing approval for their use. So one of the things I will talk about is how to avoid weeds in the first place."
One such method is to modify growing media, he adds. By reducing the percentage of peat in your growing media to 50 per cent or less, problems are reduced from big dangers such as liverwort, which thrives on the moist surface peat gives to soil. Regardless of your options, life will be much more difficult without Ronstar 2G, says Atwood.
"At the moment the alternatives are either less effective or you may, in some cases, have to run the risk of causing more damage because you will be forced to use herbicides that aren't really designed for nursery use and may have to accept a bit more temporary damage to crops in order to achieve weed control."
As well as challenges such as these, however, the industry also faces opportunities in the form of new technology, high-performance machinery and better plant stock - all of which will be in evidence at the show.
One of the show sponsors, Young Plants, will be showing a number of new plant varieties. So too will another main sponsor Fargro, based in Littlehampton, West Sussex. The company is using GroSouth to unveil a range of hand-painted plastic planters and hanging baskets of rope, wicker and rattan made in the Far East.
Colour, pattern and texture are as important as ever in the garden, but so is added value and ease of use, says Fargro key accounts and business development manager Kieran Daly. "Demand is high for creating added value and we've come up with a range of sizes suitable not only for growers to plant in but to distribute to garden centres. They are also easier for the public to get home.
"These days it's not enough to show growers what you've got. You have to work with them on what they want and it isn't as simple as offering cost savings. Many want that little bit extra, so that's what we are focusing on at GroSouth. We are showing off a range of terracotta and black pots from Soparco with secure label slots that are proving popular right now."
For Daly, shows such as GroSouth are crucial. "No one can gloss over the fact just how important they are for local growers and ones from further afield to get the look and feel of products and get close to customers. They also bring key people in the industry together in one place to share expertise with the supervisors of today who in turn become the managers and key people of tomorrow."
Paul Freer, a key accounts manager at one of the other main show sponsors, Nottingham-based Hortipak, says: "Innovation is top of our agenda and we will present a range of packaging and display items such as pot carriers and pot wraps using Hortiboard.
This cost-effective material is aimed at adding value through high-quality graphics and print on a water-resistant board.
"After the high of strong summer sales, confidence should be restored. But thoughts will return to the spring of 2013 - or the lack of it - which may see later starts for spring and reduced programmes that will mean plant shortages if the weather is mild. Colour theming aimed at women is strong, with young-plant suppliers looking at combinations that complement each other."
He adds: "Commercial shows are outstanding - a salesman's bag can only fit so many samples whereas a big show stand can display a raft of products to tell your story. Commercial shows such as GroSouth also present fantastic networking opportunities and allow you to catch up with loads of customers all in one place."
Moles Seeds in Colchester, Essex, is new to GroSouth this year but also going big on colour, says flower seed manager Stuart Donders. "We heard good reports about the show and the timing is right for preparation for the spring season," he adds. "Main talking points will be how we can extend the season and add value to plant sales."
Moles Seeds is to focus on two new series of marigolds. Cresta is a French crested type and Alumia an anemone French type, and both are available as coated seed. The Cresta series has seven colours, is early flowering and produces showy flowers. The Alumia series has six colours including unique Vanilla Cream. Moles Seeds is also introducing Tomato Terenzo, which is a new basket type producing a prolific yield of cherry-sized sweet fruit (Brix reading of six per cent).
Raring to go
XL Horticulture owner Les Lane has more reason than some, perhaps, to be raring to go to GroSouth. Lane, next year's IPPS president, is looking forward to what issues the study day will throw up that may reflect future concerns of his members.
It is also a great opportunity to show off what is new in polytunnels. XL Horticulture will give visitors a taster of a new side vent with winding system costing £52 compared with rival products nearer the £140 mark, Lane points out. His business, based in Devon, will also be unveiling a new catalogue.
But the wonder of GroSouth is it frees up visitors to go one better than the internet or catalogues and meet suppliers face to face.
Event: GroSouth Horticultural Exhibition 2013
When: 13 November
Where: Roundstone Nurseries, Pagham Road, Chichester, West Sussex PO20
Organiser: Roundstone Nurseries
Tel: 01243 755949
Seminars & tours
Trials: Poinsettia Trials in conjunction with Young Plants and Dummen taking place in propagation unit.
Tours: Newlands Production and Propagation, Barfoot Energy.
Seminars: IPM Technical Update (Fargro), Getting the Best from your sprayer (HDC) John Adlam.
For full details of seminars and tours, and booking information, see www.grosouth.co.uk.
Tel 01243 755949