Growers hopeful for good 2014

Poor spring hit hardy nursery stock suppliers but sector sees grounds for optimism going forward.

Hardy nursery stock suppliers have felt the pain of the poor spring as much as bedding growers, HTA retailer suppliers group members have said, but there are grounds for optimism.

Wyevale acting managing director Andy Johnson said there is "cautious optimism for 2014 tainted with apprehension about the colossal amount of change within the industry. The feeling is demand will be up and stock is going to be well managed so if there is good demand we will have a successful season clearing stock."

Cold weather particularly hit demand for shrubs in February, March and early April, he added, with 20-40 per cent slippage on some lines. "By the time the season got going gardeners had moved into perennials and bedding plants. Depending on your mix, a big part of the season was lost." As sales drop, maintenance goes up exponentially, he said.

Hillier sales manager Richard Lawton said: "This year has been pretty disappointing despite a good recovery in June, July, August and September. October is on target but March, April and part of May let us down like everyone else. At the last HTA meeting everyone was in the same boat."

Johnsons of Whixley director Andrew Richardson echoed the comments about missing March and April but getting some sales back later, adding that amenity buyers are ordering five days before needing delivery while planteria buyers are being forced to operate on "restricted budgets" because of tight finances.

But he said big independent centres ended up with a reasonable season and the outlook is good.

INDUSTRY COMMENT - Raoul Curtis-Machin horticulture head, HTA

"We went straight from winter to summer then recovered into autumn. Growers are not celebratory - there is a feeling of relief. Hardy nursery stock producers' problems are not as instant as bedding issues but they are still there."

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