Tom Costamagna, director of growing at American Color, refers to his Orange, Virginia-based greenhouse operation as an “A to Z grower.”
According to Costamagna, spring is for packs and flats annuals, while garden mums, daisies and asters are cultivated in summer. Depending on the season, American Color also grows tropicals, vegetables and poinsettias, representing a varied plant portfolio thriving in part through chemigation.
For 15 years, the grower has been utilizing a suite of plant growth regulators from Fine Americas, a leading supplier of PGRs for the agricultural, greenhouse ornamental and landscape industries. During summer, American Color may use an ethephon PGR like Collate, which promotes branching and resets flowering in petunias, dahlias and other popular ornamental varieties. Meanwhile, Fine Americas’ Citadel product reduces plant height on a broad range of containerized crops, including the grower’s hot-selling poinsettias.
As an experienced greenhouse business, American Color tank-mixes various PGRs for optimal precision in growing.
“We use quite a bit of Collate, Dazide and Configure,” Costamagna says. He explains combinations of PGRs can also provide greater effects such as adding Abide to a Collate application to produce smaller leaves.
American Color’s primary customers are chain outlets such as Costco and Food City. Recently, the grower launched a retail partnership with Lidl, a German grocery store currently buying the operation’s annuals, though Costamagna says other crops will be added based on the season. Among other benefits, Fine’s PGRs limit potentially harmful physical interaction with the plants.
“You’re not going to be touching plants or opening a wound for a pathogen when you run a plant through a shearing machine,” Costamagna says. “In the spring, you might use Concise with PGR tank mixes, then in fall it’s Piccolo 10X that lets you finish your asters.”
Costamagna’s customers don’t want long packs and flats, instead preferring toned, shapely baskets that can’t always grow without some extra help. Fine’s focus on PGRs makes the company unique in its category, as does its products’ competitive price point. Customer service is another reason American Color has stuck with Fine for a decade and a half.
“We grow short-term crops, so having quality service available is critical to our success,” Costamagna says. “Fine listens and they follow up. That relationship resonates well with folks like me, because it’s great to know where to get something you need.”