Listen closely

Listen closely

Increased customer interaction and attentive listening put Cedar Valley Nurseries on a more streamlined track.

October 15, 2014

 In our September issue, Nursery Management spoke with seven growers who found success on their own terms. Read all of the "Success stories" here.

When Oklahoma-based Cedar Valley Nurseries opened its doors to customers, it wasn’t for a traditional sales presentation or to catch up over coffee. The liner grower asked some tough questions and wanted honest feedback from growers. In turn, Cedar Valley received some beneficial growing tips and recognized a whole new market need.

The nursery diversified its liner program to offer a one-year 3-gallon program and a two-year 5-gallon program. Cedar Valley also brought back its 1-gallon program.

“It gives our customers a choice,” says managing partner Mark West. “For some customers, they want that more malleable, younger 3-gallon plant. But for others, they’re interested in the 5-gallon product that is more branched with a heavier caliper. Some customers want to take that 5-gallon tree and shift it up in a 10- or 15-gallon pot for a more retail-ready product.”

It all circles back to giving customers more choices and supplying for their needs instead of having a somewhat limited selection in terms of size. In the past, Cedar Valley focused on a two-year 3-gallon liner, but that program is being phased out.

“We found that some varieties outgrow that 3-gallon container. So now our two-year program is in a 5-gallon pot that’s been shifted up after the first year,” West says.

As a result of the new product offerings, Cedar Valley changed some of its production techniques to accommodate the different sizes. For example, spacing is different in the field for its one-year 3-gallon crops for good ventilation and good light.

“We’re increasing our spacing on more of those first-year products and seeing some great results,” he says. “And it’s easy to adjust the spacing if one species needs more space.”

Some of Cedar Valley’s customers were able to help improve growing techniques for hollies and magnolias.

“It’s all about forward progress,” West says. “We’re still learning what items we can grow in a one-year and two-year program. We’re trying new things and keeping in close contact with our customers,” he adds. “Change isn’t easy, but we’re changing to become a better nursery, and our customers will benefit.”

The nursery also implemented a new but simple trellis program that’s made up of posts and battening tape. There’s no longer a need for a metal support.

West added a sales rep for the East Coast and one for the Midwest to accommodate the expanding liner market.

“The liner market is improving a great deal, and there are still shortages in the market,” he says. “And with that market growth, I believe prices will go up, and continue to go up. I foresee a good pricing market without an oversupply situation for a number of years.”

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Click here to read more success stories from our September issue.