The PMC Update for October 14, 2021

The WACD Plant Materials Center update for this week is the report from the PMC Nursery Manager Jim Brown to the WACD Board of Directors for their October 18th work session.


Sales have been running at a record pace all year. Sales as of 10/12/21 are at $1,007,000. That compares favorably to a similar date last year when sales were at $706,400 and in 2019 when they were $822,700. There have been 1.3 million plants booked so far this year and 400 plants have shipped. We have a ways to go on that. There are still a lot of plants to sell and there are indications that sales should remain strong. It is important to note that there are things that could negatively affect sales such as weather and cancellations. For example, the PMC recently a cancelation on a $30,000 order.


It is still fairly early in the fiscal year so there are not many major variances in the financial reports to highlight. There is not any significant revenue to report as yet. Chemicals are slightly over budget but there will be little need to spend much more for the rest of the fiscal year. Seasonal labor is over budget year to date, primarily due to higher weed pressures than usual. An interesting aspect on how the weed season went is that other bare-root forest and conservation nurseries in the northwest also reported more weed problems than usual, which is probably a coincidence since these nurseries are far apart with different weed problems and control strategies. The PMC is currently harvesting and processing more live stakes this fall than in recent years which will drive up seasonal labor even more. Those costs will be more than offset by an increase in revenue. Minimum wage is also set to increase 80 cents per hour on January 1st so it is unlikely that these costs can be brought down to within budget.


There are two main activities going on right now. One is fall seedbed planting. The majority of species grown from seed here are planted in the fall. They will be ready to germinate next spring after going through the cold damp conditions of winter. This work is more than 50% complete. The main thing preventing completion is getting seed. A lot of the seed that is needed to finish up is still on the plants or being processed. That will occur in time and then it is a matter of waiting for a dry spell to plant.

The other big activity is the live stake harvest. The Willows, Cottonwoods and Red Osier Dogwoods that are offered for live stakes can be harvested in the fall before they drop their leaves. Some customers request them now so that they can be planted before winter. Those requests are outpacing the average year. It has required a 10-person seasonal harvest crew to be brought on to keep up with demand. That is going to cause an increase in seasonal wages but result in increased revenue.


The big thing overshadowing the coming weeks is the start of bare root harvest. That will start around December 1st. The 10-person crew will increase to a 20-person crew. All of the packaging and other consumables are being received, the equipment and facility are being prepared, and the procedures necessary to start are being reviewed. The biggest worry is getting enough employees but so far over half of last years’ crew has said they would like to return. Others will follow suit in the coming weeks.


The PMC is following all current COVID protocols. All unvaccinated employees are required to wear masks indoors and any vaccinated employees need to show their vaccination cards. In addition, the personal distancing and sanitation procedures in place since the beginning are still in place as well as having anyone with any potential symptoms stay home and get tested. Hopefully, with care and diligence, everyone remains healthy throughout the season.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Jim Brown, WACD PMC Nursery Manager