In The News: Snow damage, and plugging the plug shortage

Article Written by Chris Beytes
Click to Read on Grower Talks


Last weekend’s blizzard played havoc in New England and environs, but nowhere more than on Long Island, New York, where Van de Wetering Greenhouses reported losing their seeding area and a portion of the greenhouse where they do plug germination.


The timing couldn’t be worse, seeing how this is peak plug season. And while they didn’t lose any plugs already in production, they did lose considerable capacity to sow new ones for the next three weeks. Their distributor, Ball Seed, has been working diligently since Saturday to replace millions of plugs on order for shipment between now and early March.

I put in a call to Van de Wetering, but they were naturally pretty busy, so I didn’t press them for details or a follow-up. They’ve got bigger problems than dealing with a nosy journalist. So instead, I talked with Ball’s supply chain director, Mark Snyder, who has been in charge of the concerted effort to find other plug suppliers who can grow out the missing production.

Mark tells me they needed to find a total of about 3 acres of empty plug range—again, not easy at the peak of the plug season. Thankfully, several plug producers stepped up to take on the additional production, including Bob’s Market, Dickman Farms, Green Circle Growers, C. Raker & Sons, Tagawa Greenhouses and Van Vugt Greenhouses.

Now the challenge is getting the seed to them for sowing. But thanks to the growers above, Mark says they're close to filling all orders—and at no extra cost or hassle to customers, he adds. “Our goal is to make this virtually seamless to Ball Seed and Van de Wetering’s mutual customers.”

On the more-good-news front, Van de Wetering didn’t lose any vegetative product or the ability to stick cuttings, so that part of the business stays on track. And I hear they’ll have some sowing capacity back online by this weekend, at least for their own plug needs. We wish them the best as they dig out!