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Congratulations to Kristina Gehrer & Sarah Sunderland
2016 KNLA Scholarship Winners.

HISTORY OF THE KANSAS ASSOCIATION OF NURSERYMAN

Scholarships are Available!


Providing educational assistance to horticulture industry students in Kansas.

The Kansas Nursery & Landscape Association offers a $500 scholarship to one or two qualifying students at two year and four year educational institutions. The deadline for applying is October 31, 2017.


By Harold Crawford

            When the great migration of pioneer settlers came to Kansas they found an important element of their diet in very short supply.  That element was fresh fruit.

            Naturally, they attempted to correct that deficiency by planting home and commercial orchards.  Some of these commercial orchards were of considerable size; as much as 1,000 acres.  To meet the demand for trees, nurseries developed, mostly in eastern Kansas.  Some of these firms are still in operation and are now over 100 years old.

            By 1869 the Kansas Horticulture Society was organized.  The membership of the society consisted of anyone interested in Horticulture.  Nurserymen were prominent in the action of this group from the beginning. 

            By 1920 there were numerous nurseries scattered across the state.  In fact, the Kansas River Valley from Lawrence to Silver Lake became the prime growing center in America of fruit tree understocks.  Problems such as crown gall began to cause the growers difficulties with the State Nursery Inspectors, particularly in shipping out of state.

            In December, 1923 a group of nurserymen met at Skinner’s Nursery in Topeka at the request of the State Entomologists to discuss the crown gall problem.  At that meeting the nurserymen decided to organize their own association.  On January 23, 1924 they adopted a constitution and by-law in a meeting held at Kansas City, Missouri in the Hotel Baltimore.  This meeting was held at the same time as the Western Association of Nurserymen’s annual meeting.  Annual meetings were to be held in Topeka at the same time as the Kansas State Horticulture Society.

            Certification of nursery stock was an important concern of the founders.  This became necessary for both intrastate and inter-state movement in stock. Inspection and licensing of growers and dealers was discussed and a very workable system was established through the cooperation of the State Entomologists.

            The early meetings were dominated by discussions of production problems, although questions of government competition were on the programs.  Before the Second World War, most firms selling nursery stock grew a portion of their requirements.  This was especially true during the Depression.  Production problems were of interest to all.

            The Depression started a revolution in the nursery business.  Emphasis began to turn from production to marketing.  Packaged nursery stock came on the market through multi-outlet and department stores.  Container grown stock began to appear in many nurseries but it was mostly surplus stock potted by nurserymen themselves.

            World War II brought a great change because of labor shortages, supplies difficult to obtain, and potential buyers fighting in the war or busy working in factories supporting the armed services.

            This encouraged the development of self service sales areas and the use of women labor.  As garden centers developed, sales of allied lines, fertilizer, peat moss, tools, etc., increased and became an important portion of total sales.

            The activities of the Kansas Association of Nurserymen reflected the economic times.  State Nurseries and Shelter Belt Nurseries were considered competition and hotly debated subjects.  Through action by the Kansas Association of Nurserymen, production of these government run industries was halted.  As time progressed, roadside beautification programs were prominent concerns as were garden centers, merchandising, labor and taxes.

            The Kansas nursery industry has been privileged with strong leadership in both local and national nursery organizations, having supplied three presidents to the American Association of Nurserymen in the first thirty years of that association’s existence.  These men were very active nationally as well as locally in combating government competition, and standardizing credit terms.

            The latest project of the Association is the implementation of the certification program.  It is another effort by Kansas Association of Nurserymen to assure customers of good service and reliable information.

            We can be proud of our Kansas nursery industry and the Association that represents it.​