To say that 2017 has been an exciting year at IFCO might be the understatement of the year!
We started the year by acquiring four Weyerhaeuser Nursery facilities located in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina and a seed orchard in Georgia. These facilities took IFCO back into the bareroot seedlings business with production capacity of 150 million seedlings per year along with an additional six million seedling capacity for container seedlings in North Carolina. Also, we built 3 more container pivots at our DeRidder, Louisiana nursery. All of these changes position IFCO with the capacity to produce over 250 million seedlings per year. We now are planting seven seedlings every second of the year for landowners across the South with this added capacity!
2017 brought the first cone harvest from our four-year-old orchard at Moultrie, Georgia as well as the overall largest cone harvest ever for IFCO from our seed orchard network across the South. This will include our largest harvest of control mass pollinated (CMP) loblolly and slash pine.
Along with the Weyerhaeuser nursery acquistion came some highly skilled and experienced employees. We added sixteen former Weyerhaeuser employees with over 200 years combined experience along with 9 new hires from the outside. Two of these employees include Dr. Graham Ford (formerly of Plum Creek and Weyerhaeuser) who heads up our Tree Improvement and Research Program and Ken McQuage (formerly of Plum Creek and Weyerhaeuser) who manages our bareroot nursery operations. Both gentlemen come with experience and a wealth of knowledge in our industry.
Looking to the future, Patrick Mobley, the owner of IFCO, would like to announce the retirement of Wayne Bell as Chief Operating Officer, which will be effective December 31, 2017. Wayne has worked in the seedling business for over forty-five years and had a vital role in taking IFCO from a small seed sales and processing company to one of the largest tree genetics and seedling companies in the world. We are grateful for his vision and commitment in propelling us to our present position in the industry.
Patrick also announced recently that Doug Sharp who joined IFCO in 2016 will take over as Chief Operating Officer on January 1, 2018. Doug comes with thirty-four years of experience in tree improvement and nursery production and is well qualified to take this new role.
Chris Johnston who joined the company in 2012 will become Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Chris has trained in sales management with IFCO and other forestry companies for over twenty-five years. His knowledge of procurement and operational forestry is extensive across the South. Chris will lead our Genetic Investment Advisory Team.
Patrick was proud to see his son, Preston, join the company in January 2017 after graduating from the University of Georgia, and Preston has joined our Genetic Investment Advisor team to learn the business from the ground up.
IFCO has built one of the strongest forest regeneration teams in the South and will continue to be a transparent and customer oriented company that delivers the best in products to landowners of all sizes.
As we get to the end of the year and look at this calendar enclosed, please be aware the nature of purchasing seedlings has changed tremendously in the last 10 years. The opportunity to improve cash flow from a rotation by $500 to $1000 per acre is real by choosing the correct genetics and silviculture. Please give our Genetic Investment Advisors a call and discuss options before the best genetics are gone. Many investors are asking us now what genetics they may be able to choose for planting in the winter of 2018-19. We will begin sowing seed for the 2018/2019 planting season in March, 2018.
Our Genetic Investment Advisors have a new tool called the “Seedling Advisor” that we would love to show you. This product is instrumental in showing our customers how they can calculate the returns for their timberland anywhere in the South.
If you have any specific question about this information, please give us a call.