March 22, 2017
  • Whastsapp


Reliable, consistent nutrition has helped T-Y Nursery’s plants rise above the competition for more than 40 years

For five decades, growers have come to depend on Osmocote® controlled release fertilizers for reliable, effective N-P-K nutrition. To celebrate Osmocote’s 50th anniversary in 2016, ICL Specialty Fertilizers hosted a contest to identify the nursery that had used the fertilizer the longest. Because of a young man named Alfonso Ramos who was willing to make a switch back in 1973, T-Y Nursery of Pauma Valley, California was the winner.

Today, Ramos still works for T-Y Nursery, and to thank him for his ongoing support, ICL is sending Ramos on a Caribbean cruise for two in the spring of 2017. All those years ago, Ramos had no idea that choosing Osmocote® would be such a significant moment in what would be a long career as a professional grower.

Decades of growth

Nearly five decades have passed since Alfonso Ramos got into the nursery business. In 1967, at the age of 18, he had an encounter that would change the course of his life forever.

“I was raised in Baja California, about 16 miles south of the border between the U.S. and Mexico,” Ramos recalls. “In the summer of 1967, I visited my sister and brother-in-law who had moved to California. She was working for a place called T-Y Nursery near Torrance, and her husband was a gardener. While I was visiting, I went to work with him each day. One afternoon, we picked up my sister from her job at the nursery, and that’s when I met Takashi. We started talking, and he offered me a job. Almost 50 years later, I’m still working for him.”

The “Takashi” to whom Ramos refers is Takashi Yasutake who started T-Y Nursery with his wife Kasumi in 1966. When Ramos came to work for T-Y in 1968, the nursery spanned just five acres and employed less than ten people. Since then, T-Y Nursery has grown to become one of the leading wholesale growers in Southern California, thanks in large part to the Yasutakes’ hands-on approach. They’ve focused on producing high-quality plants for reasonable prices and providing excellent customer service.

“I learned the nursery business firsthand by working with Takashi,” Ramos says. “Over the years, I’ve taken various seminars on how to protect plants from insects and disease, but that’s the only formal training I have.”

Today, while Takashi and Kasumi are still involved with the business, their son Terry has taken over the day-to-day operations. T-Y covers more than 850 acres and employs more than 400 people year-round at four different locations in California – Torrance and Trabuco Canyon, as well as Pauma Valley and Escondido, the two sites where Ramos serves as general manager. In the springtime, employees spend much of their time shipping product to nurseries outside the state of California, with most plants going to Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. During other seasons, they focus primarily on container production with an emphasis on trees and ornamental shrubs, including roses. T-Y’s diverse inventory includes over 700 varieties, including woody ornamentals, palms, ferns, tropicals, topiaries, ornamental grasses, fruit and shade trees, succulents and drought-tolerant plants.

Persistence pays off

In the early 1970s, when Ramos had been with T-Y for only a few years, a determined salesperson from Sierra Chemical Company began approaching the nursery to sell a controlled release fertilizer called “Osmocote.” Yasutake wasn’t originally interested in making a switch, but Ramos continued to chat with the salesperson. After a few discussions, he eventually decided to set up a year-long trial of the fertilizer on junipers and a few other ornamental shrubs. 

“We were so impressed by the results,” Ramos said. “That made it really easy for me to talk Takashi into buying it. He could see the difference that Osmocote made.”

More than 40 years later, T-Y is still using Osmocote® on shrubs and some shade trees, with a higher-rate blend on slower-growing plants, and a lower-rate blend on faster-growing plants. They blend Osmocote® with their growing media, which gives the plants enough fertilizer to grow to a proper size for retail sale and enough residual nutrition to continue flourishing – even after they’ve reached their final destination.

“We ship our plants to retail nurseries, where they’re eventually purchased by consumers,” Ramos explains. “Even if a consumer doesn’t fertilize one of our plants for two to three months, the plant will continue to grow and bloom, thanks to the Osmocote in the growing media. That makes the consumer happy, which makes it more likely that he or she will return to the retail nursery where they purchased the plant. And, that retail nursery will continue buying plants from us here at T-Y, year after year.”

Today, ICL Specialty Fertilizers produces Osmocote® to the same quality standards that have made the brand a staple for commercial nurseries worldwide. Over the past 45 years, the Osmocote product line has evolved and expanded to include multiple controlled release formulations to meet growers’ ever-changing needs. ICL’s primary goal is to ensure that, no matter which Osmocote® controlled release fertilizer product they select, growers can expect to grow high-quality crops for an optimum return on investment.

Performance and reliability

As T-Y has continued to grow and expand, Ramos and the staff at the nursery have made some operational changes in response to various trends in the horticulture industry. Perhaps the most significant change in recent years has been the growing demand for drought-tolerant plants.

“When we sell to nurseries in states like Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, they prefer the agaves, Leucophyllum and other plants that need less water,” Ramos says. “Of course, we’ve experienced significant drought right here in California as well. Over the past three years, we’ve made a switch from overhead sprinklers to drip irrigation. That means we’re not wasting water by irrigating where there is no plant. The drip emitters put water right by the plant roots where they need it most.” 

While T-Y may have changed the plants they offer and how they’re irrigating them, one thing hasn’t changed. They continue to rely on Osmocote® nutrition to set their plants apart from the competition. Of course, other fertilizer salespeople have approached Ramos and T-Y Nursery over the past four decades, but nothing they offered has surpassed Osmocote’s performance and reliability.

“We’ve set up competitive trials with other fertilizers that claimed to have results like Osmocote’s,” Ramos said. “But, Osmocote always comes out on top.”