Posted on May 29, 2017
Who could have predicted that the property boom would be this strong, when just 5 years ago, the nervous word on the street was that there were signs of ‘green shoots’ emerging post GFC?. We often focus on our large cities but there are many small regional towns across our country experiencing the property boom as well. I often think of towns like Helensville, Kumeu, Whitford, Clevedon, Pukekohe, Waiuku and many more you could name around the periphery of Auckland that had not changed much in the previous decades. Now these towns are rapidly becoming suburbs of Auckland and there are hundreds of thousands of plants going into this landscape to create environments that people want to live in. The Town planners and Landscape architects are doing an excellent job with their modern landscaping designs and enhancement of our environment.
It is always a crystal ball guess when planning our nursery production for the year ahead. We have just completed the exercise again for Year 2018, with our first round of production already underway. We ask ourselves the same question every year – what plants are we going grow to occupy our 25 hectares of nursery space? The first 50-60% is easy, as it is filled with forward contracts for major infrastructure projects, developments, council contracts, and Manuka plantations. The remainder of our area is planted for the speculative market. The speculative planting is not a total gamble, our system tracks historical sales and predicts future sales across a wide range of species and plant grades, across all regions of New Zealand. This calculates a speculative planting list. We then look at all active projects that are in the pipeline and we communicate regularly with our key clients about what projects are coming up in the future. We network with the Landscape architects, Planners, Engineers, Consultants etc as these people are the first to know if and when a project is likely to proceed. However, all this aside, we never seem to get it quite right. The unpredicted turns up every year. When an order comes out of left field, looking for say 40,000 Apodasmia or 10,000 Phormium tenax or just a casual 30 hectare plantation, some product lines can suddenly look to be under produced. As we all know we can’t import plants from China, Europe, or India and reload our warehouse if a stock item is running out. It typically takes 1 year on average from the time our dedicated crew of seed collectors collect seed from the native flora around New Zealand, to germination of the seed, transplanting the small seedlings during the following Spring and growing the plants into saleable grades over the Summer/Autumn ready for the Winter and Spring plantings.
So looking at plant stock for 2017, we have just over 1,000,000 plants still available. That may seem a lot but recently we asked our sales team to present a list of the active projects that they are working on. We ascertained that collectively, our salesmen were working on 230 hectares of plantings. The average planting density of 5000 plants per hectare equates to 1,150,000 plants. If these projects are to all proceed then there will be some disappointed clients that won’t have stock to complete their plantings for the 2017 season. On top of this, it is still early in the planting season and there will be many projects still to come out of the wood work this year. The key message here is that once the plants are sold there will be no more plants available until year 2018.
So for those of you who are contemplating development or planting in year 2017, please order sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment.
For Landscape architects, Planners, Engineers, Consultants, if you have projects that you are working on currently for the 2018 season and beyond, we would love to hear from you at least 1 year ahead of the planting time frame, so that we produce the species, grades, quantities, from the eco-source areas that you require.
By Phil Wearmouth.