It’s no secret that the horticultural industry has struggled with labor issues both in terms of cost (minimum wage increases) and availability (immigration reform; lack of skilled workers).
To provide some perspective on the severity of the situation, HC references a recent study conducted by the American Society for Horticulture Science.
What they discovered is that many postsecondary horticulture programs have experienced a sharp decline in undergraduate enrollment. In fact, between 1997 and 2017, the total number of institutions offering horticulture-related degrees fell by 53% (a dramatic decrease).
ASHS predicts that if this trend continues, 2-year and certificate programs may soon be completely eliminated altogether – adding to the current burden of labor issues.
Cole Mangum, Vice President of Production at Bell Nursery in Burtonsville, MD recognizes that much of the struggle regarding labor issues can be attributed to a lack of interest in the industry. “There’s an age gap in commercial horticulture, a drastic and obvious lack of people under the age of 40. Our largest concern is in finding that next generation of greenhouse growers.”