The horticultural industry has been overwhelmed the last 2 years mainly due to COVID. The normal supply chains have been affected. Peat has seen strong sales that eliminated the normal reserve supply. This year the harvest was affected by fires, employee shortages and weather which made the supply even tighter. On the advice of our supplier in Canada, we have purchased and received a full year’s supply here at Cowsmo already. That decision was made in May. Normally we buy it as we need it. There is an expectation that next spring there will not be any available.

Perlite is another ingredient that is being rationed. We use 2-3 semi-loads per year and just unloaded one in early September. Their issue is two-fold. They are having problems getting the raw material from Sri Lanka because of shipping issues and delays at ports. The other issue is a lack of employees at their plant in Appleton, Wi. The owner of Midwest Perlite told us that he has never seen a raw product that was of such low quality. That problem may change for the better soon. Perlite is volcanic rock that is processed using heat that makes it expand. An alternative to perlite is rice hulls that are steamed to kill any rice or weed seeds. The cost of treated rice hulls is greater than perlite.

What does this mean to our customers?

  • Cowsmo potting soils will be readily available for the next year

  • Other potting soils may struggle with availability if they have not stockpiled by now.

  • Perlite may be a limiting ingredient in potting soils. We have 1/3 of our supply here and have another 1/3 due here in January. The last 3rd we hope to get in Spring.

  • If next winter and spring are post-COVID, we wonder how it will affect demand for plants and horticultural supplies. Will we return to “normal”?

These small notes are an attempt by Cowsmo to help our customers better understand the dynamics of our industry. There will be more.