Ken and Deena Altman talk about the future of horticulture industry research and their CfAHR research initiative.
By: Dave Edenfield
“The resources and people doing horticulture research continue to shrink. To avoid an industry crisis, growers need to get involved — now!
A Commitment to Avoid a Crisis
During the recent Big Grower Executive Summit that took place in San Diego in February, we had the opportunity to talk with Ken and Deena Altman at Altman Plants regarding their feelings on this very subject.
The Altmans are extremely passionate about what is happening in our industry today. One of their major concerns is the state of horticulture research. To quote Ken, ”the industry is in a crisis situation when it comes to research. We have incredible people at the universities who are doing great research. But many of them are getting to a certain age and are retiring or moving to private companies and the universities are not replacing them.”
While at the conference I became very much aware of the challenges as we toured the Center for Applied Horticultural Research (CfAHR). The Center is “a non-profit organization with the purpose of addressing, through research, the practical issues the nursery and floriculture industry is facing.”
The center has been developed and heavily funded by the Altmans along just a small handful of other companies. The research information generated by CfAHR is being made available to the industry at no cost. In my opinion the Altmans have made a serious commitment to address the problem.
How are other growers going to address the need they have for the most current cultural information possible? In doing some homework, I found there are several large growers who have made a decision to hire and bring in-house for their own private use, PHDs and other educated researchers. Be assured their research most likely will not be available to other growers.
Other growers are banding together to form small groups to support research programs. Production consultants are becoming more and more used as a conduit for up-to-date information.
Lastly, there are several large multi-faceted horticulture companies who are doing product-focused research and using the information as a part of a customer service strategy.”