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Four Star University was a Success
Growers from around the country gathered at Four Star for an educational event designed exclusively for hands-on growers.
By Shanna Clark, Marketing Development & Events Coordinator
"Attending Four Star University was a positive opportunity to learn from Four Star and meet other growers from greenhouse operations across the country," said Jeff Mayer of C K Greenhouses, regarding the first annual Four Star University, held this September at the Carleton, MI headquarters. Growers travelled from all over the country for this grower-to-grower event. Some came from as far away as Montana and Maine for the one-day event at our Indian Trails facility.
Dennis Crum, Director of Growing, commented, "It was nice for the first year to have so many attendees, and such a broad range of customers. We had everyone from small growers to big growers, all here with the same goal — to learn how to be better growers."
The overall goal of the day was to provide information to growers that will help them dial in their growing skills for their Proven Winners® crops. Crum and the growing staff provided attendees with detailed crop planning information, growth regulator and pesticide plans, hands-on instructions for managing soil pH and EC, and much more.
Small Container Production Details
Another attendee commented, "I was impressed how willing you were to share what you do and how you grow everything." The "University" concept included focused presentations by Four Star's growing team on topics related to improving growing and production.
For instance, Dave Marsh and Donna Rath, Product Line Managers, walked growers through everything needed to efficiently produce small containers, from determining the right product mix through growth regulators and incorporating new varieties. "The new Superbells® Pomegranate Punch is going to be one of our biggest new varieties for next year," Marsh said. "We're projecting the numbers to be double what our Superbells Red sales were in 2013."
He also explained how growers can benefit from the new Benchrun Collections for cool and warm crops. "The Benchrun Collections are great when it comes to crop efficiencies. These two new collections allow you to group up a mix of plants on the bench and treat them all the same. Everything from crop times to growth regulators is consistent, and this makes growing a lot easier."
Other sessions covered large container production, troubleshooting common crops, Q&A panel, and more. Guest Speaker Bill Argo, Ph. D., of Blackmore Co., gave an in-depth discussion of pH and other factors affecting plant growth. "It was great for everyone to hear Bill Argo present," said Grower Dan Foster. "He's a wealth of information and addressed some of the most common challenges that growers face. There was a lot of useful take-away material that growers could put into action immediately at their greenhouses."
Multiple sessions focused on interest
"I picked up something valuable in all of the sessions," noted one more attendee. Another element of Four Star University were breakout sessions, allowing attendees to focus on specific topics such as expanding into perennials and shrubs, growing outdoors, and pest management specifics.
As an added bonus to the day, attendees were also the first to receive the new Four Star 2014 Culture Guide. Dennis Crum commented, "Before the program even started, attendees mentioned that the new Four Star Culture Guide alone was worth the trip. It's a piece we've been needing for years, and it's good to see it received such a positive response from our customers."
Mixing with other growers
The format was also designed to encourage a friendly and relaxed atmosphere where growers could meet others, compare production methods, and ask Four Star growers their specific questions. Breakout sessions gave growers the chance to learn more about related topics and get to know the growing staff better.
Those who arrived the day before enjoyed a special dinner hosted by Four Star's staff. Greenhouse and Display Garden tours were also offered to attendees.
Plan to Attend 2014 FSU
Plans are already in the works for a 2014 Four Star University, with some new sessions and information. Possible topics for next year include additional small-group breakout sessions, expanded information on growth regulators and insecticides, new variety culture, training practices for staff and more. Please check back on the Events page of www.pwfourstar.com for additional information and registration.