From the Editor: September 2011

August 31, 2011
Written by
Some growers “train” as intensely as world-class athletes, and with gains just as rewarding.

Luther Cary of the U.S. set the first standard for the 100-metre dash in a time of 10.8 seconds in 1891 in a race in Paris, France. It wasn’t until 1906 that this record was beaten – several runners had tied the mark over the years – with Knut Lindberg of Sweden crossing the tape in 10.6. In 1968, someone finally broke the 10-second barrier, when Jim Hines of the U.S. ran a 9.9 in a race in California. More recently, Usain Bolt of Jamaica set the new record at 9.58 seconds in 2009. (Donovan Bailey of Canada ran a 9.84 to win gold at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, a record that held for 35 months.)

Sprinters today enjoy better nutritional habits, but more importantly, much better training. They’re learning from coaches who have made the study of the race a true science. It takes only a few seconds to run, but many years to master.

What about greenhouse horticulture? Marketplace competition is hardly easing up. Costs have become bigger hurdles.

For growers, Canada is blessed with world-class post-secondary programs, and many of those now walking the benches or along the troughs have graduated from those programs.

There are others who have gained comparable skills growing up under the tutelage of parents or bosses who have patiently passed along their own knowledge, helping them learn the ropes.

And all this initial schooling – whether in formal education programs or on-the-job training – is just the start of the process. It’s what is learned today, tomorrow, next month or next year that will keep growers in the race. Ongoing training is what often is the difference between business expansion and business failure. No one is slowing down, and new greenhouse crop standards are continually being set in yields and quality.

And that’s where conferences and workshops come into play. The Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association, for example, has long had an active education program with sessions throughout the year. Flowers Canada (Ontario) has for years hosted a night school program. And there are other growers associations just as active in training sessions, in addition to provincial ministries of agriculture and their extension specialists.

Conferences are important. They not only have educational sessions, but also trade shows, and it’s the latter resource more growers should be tapping into. Companies have highly trained and experienced crop specialists in their booths eager to assist. They, too, are keen coaches who can help growers coax a little more yield out of a crop, to take the plants to the finish line with improved results. They can recommend the best crop tools and practices. If it’s new, they know all about it.

Preparations for the next crop have begun. Many growers are wondering how they can take their game to the next level. Now’s the time to take advantage of training options and expert advice, to source new growing techniques and equipment, and to invest in themselves and their employees.

On your mark … get set … grow. ■

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