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It was in the aboriginal 1920s aback John and Frances Horn of Carnegie, Oklahoma, accustomed a allowance from a about in Arkansas. No one could accept absurd that box independent the seeds of a approaching four-generation acreage that would still be about 93 years later. The Horns opened the amalgamation to acquisition six canna bulbs—which are alpine flowers with bright summer blooms and abounding foliage.
Frances peddled vegetables as allotment of the family’s income, so she absitively to bandy the bulbs in with her vegetable garden. About three years later, the cannas had assorted and Frances started affairs them on her vegetable route. At some point in the mid to backward 1920s the cannas sales started ascendant the vegetables. In 1928, Neil—John and Frances’ son—who was 16 at the time, saw abundant abeyant in the canna business and offered his parents his Jersey dogie in acquittal for the rights to the canna business.
“That was the official alpha of Horn Canna Farm,” said Nikki Snow, the accepted co-owner. “Neil anticipation he could accomplish it added than aloof cannas on the bend of the vegetable patch. He was absolutely the avant-garde who saw the business through the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, and some absolutely adamantine times.”
In fact, Nikki said in the 1950s, Neil and his wife, Louise absent the absolute crop to an aboriginal freeze. To acquisition new cannas bulbs to plant, the ancestors briefly confused to northeastern Oklahoma and Arkansas for weeks at a time, alive at added canna farms to defended abundant burying banal for their canna operation to alpha over.
(Journal photo by Lacey Newlin.)
Eventually, Jolene Snow, babe of Neil and Louise, and her husband, Butch, took over the farm, accretion it to advertise cannas beyond the U.S. Jolene and Butch’s son, Dustin, and his wife, Nikki, abutting the acreage in 1994 and added computers to ample orders. By 2008, Jolene and Butch retired and Dustin and Nikki, fourth bearing canna growers, bought the acreage and run it with the advice of their bristles children.
Although for the majority of the farm’s history they were burying about 120 acreage of cannas, Nikki said Horn Canna—one of two ample canna operations in the United States—has been activity through a alteration over the aftermost few years.
“When Dustin and I bought the business in 2008, we anticipation we were activity to go big, so we busy the acreage about us and by the summer of 2011 we had 200 acreage of cannas,” Nikki explained. “It about dead us and we abstruse bigger is not consistently better. We were grossly inefficient, active a day aggregation and a night aggregation and I don’t apperceive if Dustin or I anytime slept. It was aloof too much.”
In the past, abundant of Horn Canna’s business went to big box food and in 2018 afterwards they had recovered from the losses of the 200-acre canna years, the Snows started to admiration if they could restructure their business abroad from those big corporations.
“We accept been affiliated to them for so long, and maybe that’s not breadth our approaching is,” Nikki said. “We started a five-year action in 2018 to abbreviate and move abroad from that sector. Up until 2018, we served the big box stores, homeowners and mom and pop greenhouses and garden centers all over the U.S. This year this was our aboriginal official crop that didn’t go to any big box food and this is our aftermost year to do broad as able-bodied to garden centers and nurseries. Officially starting abutting year, we are absolutely retail and aggregate goes to homeowners.”
According to Dustin, the aftermost three years Horn Canna Acreage has angled its orders anniversary year because of the change in bazaar segment—last year they alien 7,350 orders. Aback they downsized from big box stores, the snows appropriately bargain their buried acres. Instead of the 200 acres, they are burying 20 to 30 acreage of cannas, with 35 varieties in the capital field. To supplement the cannas developed in the field, the Snows alpha alone cannas in their greenhouse in January and February so they will accept cannas year round, whether barter appetite to ball bulbs or skip a few accomplish with an accustomed plant. They additionally administer a balloon breadth with 80 varieties that go through a testing appearance afore they are formed into the capital field.
“The majority of our barter are either attractive for article actual unique, alike if it’s not all that pretty, they’re canna enthusiasts or they appetite a abundant big bloom,” Nikki said. “Some of the plants that abatement amid those categories may not be for our market, which is why we ball trials.”
What does it booty to abound cannas? Nikki said although cannas are close plants, they are awful adjustable and Horn Canna Acreage serves barter all the way to Canada. She said the arctic gardeners put in a little added accomplishment to abound their cannas. To get added blooms in the growing season, abounding of them alpha their plants central six to eight weeks afore it is balmy abundant to move them outside.
“They like well-draining soil, but cannas can about abound anywhere,” Nikki said. “They can abound about absolutely abysmal in a baptize garden, in adobe or albino loam. They can survive about anywhere as continued as they accept affluence of water.”
To accomplish abiding the cannas had affluence of water, Neil installed the aboriginal irrigations pivots in Caddo County, Oklahoma, in 1948, and the Snows abide that convenance today. The Snows ball their cannas in the acreage on April 1 with a four-row agriculturalist that has been adapted to use for canna burying as there is not absolutely a bazaar for canna equipment. In fact, there are alone two canna farms—including Horn Canna—in the U.S.
“We ball at night a brace hours anniversary black and again we’ll ample orders on the buzz all day,” Nikki said. “Four of us ride on the back,
two bodies ride on the belvedere and abandoned the seed—which is absolutely aloof a abate ball that we wouldn’t sell, but we authority aback to replant.”
Nikki said they generally ball rye in the canna acreage to accumulate the adobe from alarming and either annihilate the rye appropriate afore or afterwards the cannas are planted. They accept additionally buried sunflowers forth with the cannas afresh to advice with nematode issues. Canna autumn usually starts in mid-October and the Snows use a adapted potato coquette to autumn the bulbs. Since cannas adopt the littoral acclimate of Florida and southern Texas, the almanac algid temperatures of February 2021 were an blackballed affair for the canna farm.
“It was rough, we able for two canicule aback we knew it was coming,” Nikki said. “We pulled all of our banal a brace anxiety abroad from the walls in the barrio and put admirers in every architecture to accumulate air affective forth the walls. We knew it was a little chancy burying and befitting a greenhouse balmy in January and February. We had the thermostats on 110 degrees Fahrenheit and it hovered aloof about 40 in there. We were afraid it, but they fabricated it through.”
Resilience is a key descriptor for both the canna ball and the four ancestors of Horn Canna Farm. Aloof like the plant, the ancestors continues to adapt, affected and persevere through winter storms and calefaction waves—literally and figuratively.
“As a agriculturalist myself, there are not a ton of plants out there that you can ball in the spring, blossom in July, survive the backward July-early August heat, while blooming until frost,” Nikki said.
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