Plant Materials Center update: December 2, 2021

Bare Root Harvest Starts!

It is finally here: the 2021-22 harvest season. On December 1st the full harvest crew was brought in, marking the start of harvest. The PMC was able to fill all 20 harvest positions required for efficient operations. Sixteen of these folks worked here last year which is a huge benefit. They started in as if it was a continuation of the last day of harvest last year. The other four positions were filled with excellent workers.

Part of the first day was filling out paperwork, orientation, and a safety meeting. After that, the crew started lifting and processing plants. By the end of a shortened day, there were over 17,000 plants in the cooler that were not there at the beginning of the day, including 12,000 Red Alder. That is called a good start around here. All that is needed is around two million more and harvest will be over. The fact of the matter is that point won’t be reached until around the middle of March.

Sales Remain Strong

As of November 29, 2021, the PMC has booked $1,299,693 in sales for the upcoming season. That compares favorably to a similar date last year when sales were $928,706 — if one considers a 29% increase favorable! It also compares favorably to the budgeted sales revenue for the entire year which is $1,209,000.

Incoming sales continue to come in at a fast pace. The big hurdle is getting that many orders out of the door. It may take extra hours and even possibly getting another seasonal employee to help.

Many Plants are Still Available but Many are Sold Out

Check out the current PMC plant availability which is posted on the PMC website at There are still a lot of quality plants available, but more and more species are selling out. When the sales season started it would require over nine pages to print the whole list. The list of what is still available now only requires three-and-a-half pages.

Spring Seed Stratification Begins

Most of the plants grown from seed are started with fall seed sowing. The cold, wet winter works to break seed dormancy so that they are ready to germinate in the spring. The remainder are planted in the spring. Seeds of those species are also initially dormant and need a cold, moist period to germinate. That is done artificially by placing the seed in bags of moist perlite and placing them in the cooler for a period of a few weeks to a few months. One example is Beaked Hazelnut. They could be fall sown but the chances of the crows eating the nuts before then are very high. Instead, they are placed in cold, moist stratification for six months then planted in May.

The Weather is a Little More Cooperative

After three more Atmospheric River events last week the rains finally let up. There was concern earlier in the week that the Samish River could top its banks again and possibly threaten the PMC with flooding. Fortunately, the rain stopped before then. One thing that is for sure, we are thankful for the sandy soils here. Some neighboring fields have heavier soils with standing water and that does not work with bare root harvest. The rain is not welcomed by the lifting crew either. There is nothing quite like conducting harvest during winter.

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

Jim Brown, WACD PMC Nursery Manager