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A product development directors’ view on Cultivate and the sustainability trend

“I will be there to see new products and bring ideas back to the team”

"The Cultivate trade show really is the only domestic show that brings the world to Terra Nova," says Chuck Pavlich, Director of New Product Development at Terra Nova Nurseries. Terra Nova Nurseries is a tissue culture propagator and a grower of both annuals and perennials, and is located in Canby (Oregon), USA. From July 13-16, the company will once again attend Cultivate, which gathers many horticultural professionals around the world. Here, the Terra Nova team will showcase their new and back-by-popular-demand varieties that are a result of the company's breeding efforts and garden trials, while also getting the opportunity to network and get inspired by new ideas. We talked to Pavlich to learn more about his role, the sustainability trend, and the Sedum 'Magic Mocha' variety.

Chuck Pavlich, Director of New Product Development at Terra Nova Nurseries

Being a Director of New Product Development
For nearly seventeen years, Pavlich has been the Director of New Product Development at Terra Nova Nurseries. In this role he provides new ideas for the breeding department, as well as support in sourcing. He also acts as a liaison between the lab and breeding departments. His function also involves travelling the world as a brand ambassador for all Terra Nova products. This encompasses educating the people that select the plants for their assortment, their brand managers, and sometimes the growers to help make them successful. When asked what he likes the most about this role, he says: "I like the 'nerdy' and technical part of my job a lot. I like phylogenies and chromosome counts, imagining what a plant could look like, how to get to that point and using the statement 'what if.'"

Attendees of Cultivate' 2024 will get the chance to see him in full action. "I will be there to see new products and bring ideas back to the team. I also act as a salesperson for both liners, and stage three material. Further there will be meetings with many of our licensees from around the world. Our dance card is already full for meetings at Cultivate. We could squeeze in a few more, but not many. There is a new bright crowd out there just getting acquainted with us. Cut flowers? Check. Container perennials? Check. Landscape plants? Check. Annuals? Check!"

Sustainability – a buzz word?
Pavlich states that he will be particularly looking out for new products, ideas, and partners that are concerned with sustainability. He believes that sustainability is more than a trendy theme, and is there to stay. "I think the first indication that sustainability was more than a buzz word was when I saw the words 'sustainably sourced' on food packages. One doesn't change packaging capriciously, so there must have been enough concern on the consumer's part to justify the change. In every segment of industry, there is pressure to be more ethical in production, use fewer natural resources, recycle and in general, clean up after yourself."

He explains how Terra Nova seeks to meet market expectations. "Everyone in the chain that receives our products must find value in it. For the grower, we provide a wide array of fast-finishing liners that have little use for PGRs because of thoughtful breeding. These plants were selected for generations to be more disease-resistant and to be great pollinator attractors. For the garden center, we provide attention grabbing plants that have a good shelf life and a long bloom season. For the end consumer – the final judge – we provide a well trialed, trendy plant to enhance their home and environment. Bred in bonuses include true-to-breeding height and natural disease resistance."

Sedum 'Mocha Magic'
"That's why we examine an entire genus, and give it a critical examination to discover what could be improved. Our advanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program has been modeled by a number of nurseries concerned with pesticide usage. Our breeders make selections based on several factors including disease resistance, ease of growing, drought resistance and aesthetic value," he continues. "In fact, before it became 'a thing' to be sustainable, we already considered ecologically sound practices and how we could bring them to fruition."

Sedum 'Mocha Magic'

Pavlich points out that Sedum 'Mocha Magic' is one of the results of this approach. "Because of the high-degree testing and trialing, this sedum is a prime example of thoughtful breeding. 'Mocha Magic' is drought-resistant, disease-resistant, winter hardy, and loved by pollinators, all factors that are the foundation of our unwritten sustainability rules. Moreover, this variety has a stunning floral display, a great habit, and it will not open up or get a bald spot as it ages." For anyone who wonders why the plant is called 'Mocha Magic', there is an explanation. Namely, the name 'Mocha Magic' is derived from its color. Its foliage is coffee-colored, with the shade of the flowers resembling the foam on a mocha latte.

Further market dynamics
Aside from keeping-up with the latest sustainability developments. Pavlich keeps an eye on other trends and innovations. As an example, he mentions the farm-to-vase movement. "I think people are more open-minded about the uses of crops. The farm-to-vase movement of floriculture is fascinating, watching the trends skyrocket via social media and seeing (at least) some sustainability in the trends. Yesterday's weeds are tomorrow's superstars." In addition, he loves to find ways to better address the issues of labor and shipping costs, which posed a challenge this season.

He concludes with a positive remark, saying: "The market is still a bit in flux, and many of us long for the prosperous sales period experienced during the pandemic. Yet, this has been a good year for us, and in the coming years we will continue to innovate, reimagining what plants look like. New shapes, colors and new genera." But first he will prepare for Cultivate, which he has attended more than fifteen times.

For more information:
Terra Nova Nurseries
[email protected]