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Poinsettia Growers Try New Colors

December 29, 2000

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ So many poinsettias and now so many choices.

Growers are experimenting with new colors and varieties in hopes of making more money on the holiday plants. Poinsettias are available in Winter Rose Red, Jingle Bells and Plum Pudding.

``They’re always looking for new ways of catching the customers’ eyes,″ said Steve Carver, a spokesman for the Ohio Florists Association.

In recent years the poinsettia plant has been barely profitable for most growers. There are so many on the market that big retail stores can buy them cheap and keep prices low.

Many growers stay in the poinsettia business because it’s the only viable crop for this time of year and to keep their best customers coming back year-round.

``There is a glut in poinsettias,″ Carver said. ``It’s not a specialty plant anymore. In some ways, it’s a victim of its own success.″

Growers have been evaluating different varieties and trying to guess which ones will attract buyers.

Marble star, is a pinkish plant with a white border, while Monet is a raspberry speckled plant.

``They’re kind of designer colors,″ said Jim Broderick, vice president of Engel’s Greenhouse in Columbus.

``You have two kinds of customers,″ he said. ``There’s the traditionalist who thinks all poinsettias should be red, and then there are the others who want something to match their home or office.″

There’s also Plum Pudding with muted purple leaves and Jingle Bells, which has a dark red leaf with speckles of pink.

Ohio is in the top five states in poinsettia production, growing about 4 million pots of poinsettias each year.

Red still accounts for more than 70 percent of the market and white and pink each claim about 7 percent. But newer varieties such as Jingle Bells and Plum Pudding account for 13 percent.

High fuel prices may drive Ohio greenhouses to choose more hardy poinsettia varieties next year, said John Morris, head grower at Lakewood Greenhouse Inc. in Wood County.

More hardy varieties can be grown at about 62 degrees instead of 68 degrees needed by other poinsettias _ thus saving on heating costs.


COCHRAN, Ga. (AP) _ T. Whipple Simpson went to a 1990 farm show in search of a machine that would unroll his 650-pound round bales of wheat straw so they could be separated into 40-pound rectangular bales.

When he couldn’t find one, he did the next best thing _ he invented one.

Simpson received a patent on his invention, the EZ Unroller, this month. The middle Georgia farmer has already sold 17 of the machines _ which start at $15,000 _ around the country and in Canada.

Al Cooper, a farmer near Waynesboro who was one of Simpson’s first customers.

``I tried everything I could think of,″ he said. Then he saw a magazine article about Simpson’s invention. ``I said, `Son of a gun, that darn machine’ll work.‴

The EZ Unroller comes in single and double models. The single-sided machine, powered by a tractor, sells for about $15,000. Cooper bought his double model, which comes with four motors that drive the components and power the hydraulic system for the conveyor belting, for $43,000.


On the Net:

Ohio Florists Association: http://www.ofa.org

Facts about poinsettias: http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/poinsettia

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