The warnings are starting to roll in with predictions for the upcoming summer likely to be the hottest on record. How can we, as an industry, be prepared? Summer will be here before you know it.
Our industry has been hit hard in the past with a decade of drought and water restrictions, so I think we know which direction we need to be heading to manage it. How can we prepare for the 2023 summer El Niño which no doubt could have a significant impact on growers and retailers across the country?
None of us have a crystal ball or could say precisely how it will affect our industry, but we have dealt with tough situations before and we know more now than we did then. The industry can be proactive to minimise potential risks and capitalise on opportunities during this period.
A lot of research and development has gone into plants that are heat and drought resistant. Industry needs to continually invest in this area. Nurseries could focus on cultivating more of these plants and plant varieties, and proactively promote native species that are well-suited to the local climate.
In the past, some consumers became well educated on using water sparingly, with many installing drip irrigation and rain water tanks. During COVID19 many people took up gardening for the first time, so it could be the right time to re-educate existing gardeners as well as educating those that are new to gardening.
Independent Garden Centres usually have a close relationship with their customers so now is the time to connect with them and educate them from the ground up. Remind them of the importance of soil preparation, composting, how to start a worm farm, and all those principles that ensure healthy plant growth and minimal problems with pest and diseases. During the last drought, water restrictions came in and people were told to stop watering their gardens, so they stopped gardening and didn’t want to spend money on plants. We don’t want a repeat of that situation so encouraging our customers to use water wisely and advising them of what and how to grow, is critical.
This is an opportunity for retailers to get together with their customers and connect with their community through a series of workshops or VIP online courses or forums. Courses will encourage people in the community and give them the confidence to garden, which in the long run will benefit all in the industry.
Daniel Fuller writes in this issue about retail careers – that they are the link between the grower and the consumer. Perhaps growers could give a few hours here and there to attend a workshop at a retail garden centre, and help with the education of the end users. It could be a win-win situation for all concerned.
With spring around the corner, maybe we need to take some of our Business Coach John Corban’s advice and plan ahead so we can take advantage of the predicted heat. I also urge you to read John Stanley & Sid Raisch’s article about the future and their comment, “If you are not average, you are going to have a great future in horticulture”.
I hope you have a terrific August and get cracking on your plan for spring and summer.
Enjoy the read, there is something for everyone!
Karen Smith and your Hort Journal team