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Feb 20, 2019

Perennial Math

Jacco Kuipers
Former General Manager of Darwin Perennials

At the end of the day, every business is about math. More specifically, every business tries to solve a so-called optimization problem. Every day, we try to maximize results with the resources available to us. In our business, the resources tend to be people, space, people, equipment (greenhouse structures, machinery and other equipment) and weather.

Not really a resource, but arguably the most important element is demand. When do your customers need what products? Whether you produce to order, or to inventory to sell out of later, you'll need to consider all resources available to you to produce the best possible crop in the most efficient way possible.

How can Darwin Perennials as a breeder, producer and supply chain partner help you with this? Let's take a look at each of the resources available to you.

Hitting your goal more efficiently can be accomplished by proper scheduling of trialed and proven varieties, so you can have fresh product ready at the optimal window. Our scheduling tool can help you do this. This same tool can also help you extend the growing season longer, allowing multiple turns from your greenhouse.

One option to solve time constraints is to change the inputs you buy (bareroot or larger liners), especially if you don't keep your facility open during the winter or don't have appropriate holding areas. Finally, another option to speed up your production is by replacing varieties that require vernalization with varieties that do not. Our propagation and finishing guides can help you find great upgrades that either speed up your production or make it more schedulable. This can remove the need for vernalization or extend your season.

People & Equipment
There are a number of ways to optimize your production for the people and equipment you have available. If finding labor is a struggle, or if your operation does not have the equipment to start from seed, unrooted cuttings, divisions or tissue culture, there is a large number of young plant producers that can provide you with plugs and liners in a variety of sizes and stages of development. This avenue is also great if you have limited room for longer-residency production.

Some of these young plant growers have developed innovative solutions (e.g., a black cloth Echinacea program for fall finishing). Again, this gives an option to produce a fresh crop for fall flowering, which adds premium color and texture to the season. And for fall ordering, taking a look at whether a no-vernalization-needed variety that replaces a vernalization-needed variety reduces the need for an overwintering area.

Although we can't influence the weather with our breeding, we are working on exciting products that thrive in a variety of climates. Are you growing for Zone 5? Our new Digitalis Arctic Fox Rose is hardier than other Digitalis on the market, helping you get this beautiful perennial into your offering.

Working a little bit further South in Zone 6? How about the Caryopteris Gold Crest, which is hardy into this zone? Are you growing even further South and looking for color? Look no further than our hybrid Salvia Acrtic Blaze series.

The large variety of products available in perennials means that there are optimal solutions available for every type of growing facility. The varieties, supply chain, and planning and informational tools we offer can help you and your sales rep pick the right solutions for yours. It pays to do the math!

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