Plant Materials Center update: January 6, 2022

Panoramic photo of fall seedbed
Fall Seedbed

2021 Wrap Up

We started 2021 with the hope that we could put 2020 behind us and move on. Guess what? 2022 will begin the same way! COVID-19 is still a serious threat to public health and PMC operations. There have been some gains in regards to operating the PMC during a pandemic. An increasing number of employees are vaccinated and there has been less time lost due to quarantine. Some of these gains have been offset by a more contagious variant, Omicron, making the rounds.

In spite of dealing with Covid, it was a good year for the PMC. Fiscal Year 2020-21 ended with an all-time high for revenue, although not by much. Actually, fewer plants were sold, probably due to COVID, but due to the higher cost of purchasing smaller quantities, the PMC posted revenue slightly higher than in the past. The PMC saw the welcome return of Sales Manager Jacquie Gauthier. The 2021 growing season went well with more plants available to sell this year than ever before, which is good since sales for Fiscal Year 2021-22 are running considerably higher than ever before (see below). There were not any major equipment failures. Overall, considering the challenges, 2021 went about as well as can be expected. Kudos to the staff at the PMC for the tremendous efforts to make that possible!


As often reported in the PMC Update over the past few months, PMC Sales are running considerably higher than in years past. As of December 28, the PMC has posted $1,419,445 in sales. Sales on 12/18/20 were $928,706. That is a 35% increase compared to last year. It also exceeds the sales revenue budget for the whole fiscal year by $210,445, and that is increasing almost daily. So far, the PMC has received 397 orders for 1,818,491 plants. Kudos to the staff for taking things up a notch to make that possible!


Recently, the weather has been the big news at the PMC. The temperatures plunged lower than in recent memory and the snow was about as deep as ever in recent years. On the Monday after Christmas, the temperature was 7° F, with about 9” of snow, interrupting harvest for the week. Fortunately, the plants were fully dormant so they were at their peak cold hardiness. The deeper-than-usual snow was welcome as it insulated the plants and the ground. After 4 days of these temperatures, the ground has not frozen which will allow harvest to continue soon after the snow melts.


The interruption in harvest due to the weather was not a welcome event. More plants need to be harvested this year than ever before. It might be necessary to work longer days to catch up. Fortunately, harvest was running at a record pace before things came to a stop on December 23rd. A total of 550,000 plants had been lifted and processed since bare root harvest started on December 1. That is an average of over 32,000 plants per day which is awesome. Out of those harvest numbers, 174,096 have already been shipped out. Kudos to the staff and crew for working so hard to make that happen!


The only thing that is known about 2022 is that not much is known for certain about 2022. It is possible that the pandemic could be with us through this year and into the next. It is likely that the number of plants sold will be record smashing and perhaps that trend will continue through the following year, or not. We are pretty sure that a record setting harvest will wrap up on time, a record number of transplants will be planted, a record amount of seed will be sown, and possibly a record number of plants produced. One thing that is known about 2022 for certain, and this is important, is that the PMC will continue to benefit from the strong support from the conservation district community. Kudos to all of those who make this whole unlikely undertaking what it is today!! THANKS, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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

Jim Brown, WACD PMC Nursery Manager