Ball Publishing got its start early in the history of Ball Horticultural Co. (which
was founded in 1905). Ball’s founder, George. J. Ball, was a seedsman and flower
grower of the highest order. But he was also a prolific writer, and a big proponent
of the sharing of knowledge. Two of his company’s earliest book projects were “Seed
Sowing” and “Gravel Culture.” But his best-known work and legacy is the “Ball RedBook.”
First published in 1932, the RedBook is considered to be the “bible” for the greenhouse
industry. It’s loaded with detailed production information for annuals, perennials,
cut flowers and other floriculture crops; plus in-depth chapters on greenhouses
and growing technology. Now in its 17th edition and over 1,000 pages long, the Ball
RedBook has sold hundreds of thousand of copies around the world. Visit a greenhouse
on any continent and chances are you can find a well-worn copy of the RedBook.
Just as famous as the RedBook is GrowerTalks magazine. It, too, was founded
by George J. Ball. George decided to publish his own magazine because the editor
of the floral trade magazine in which he wanted to publish his crop production articles
wouldn’t print them in a timely fashion. He knew growers needed the information
now! So he launched his own magazine, GrowerTalks, writing at home after
work on a legal pad balanced on his knee.
That was May 1937, and the convenient pocket-sized publication became the commercial
flower grower’s best friend. It’s widely accepted that GrowerTalks truly
got growers communicating with one another. George wrote about his own experiences
and travels, and he tapped into his sons Vic, Carl and George K. (Sonny), as well
as the Geo. J. Ball sales force, to provide culture and market information from
around the world. Turn to a copy from the early ’40s and you can read about the
difficulties facing the industry during World War II, when women began working the
greenhouse and seed from the renowned German and Japanese breeding houses was unavailable.
Today, more than 85 years later, GrowerTalks
be the best-known greenhouse trade publication in the world. While it’s published
in America’s Midwest, just outside of Chicago, its reach and influence is global,
with its editors historically on the road and in the air to find the stories, trends
and news. From the days of George and his sons traveling across the country by train
or abroad by boat, to today’s editors visiting trade shows and greenhouses on nearly
every continent, GrowerTalks is there, in the greenhouse and garden center,
bringing you the latest growing and retailing information.
Speaking of garden centers, in 1997 we decided to launch a publication just for
There were two major information gaps in the market that we felt prepared to fill:
crop information and consumer trend information. No other publication was bringing
timely, accurate flower and plant information to retailers. Yet we’d been doing
it for growers for years. And no one was focusing on the end consumer and what she
wants and needs. We launched Green Profit to serve those two niches, and
it has done that admirably for more than 17 years.
In the mid 2000s, we noticed that the industry was changing, and our current design
reflects that. Launched in July 2008, it’s only the second major redesign GrowerTalks
has ever had. The first was in 1982, when Ball Publishing was launched as a full-fledged
division of Geo. J. Ball, and the magazine went from pocket-sized to full-sized
and began accepting advertising from Ball’s competitors.
Around 2012 we realized a slightly different audience emerging: controlled environment
agriculture growers specializing in produce and cannabis. These could be everything
from indoor farms and rooftop greenhouses to sprawling hydroponic greenhouse ranges
and even small hoophouse additions for shoulder season sales. That’s why we launched
the Inside Grower supplement, which first mailed with GrowerTalks/Green
Profit in January 2013. It gradually went from publishing two times a year,
to three times and now quarterly. The mission is still the same: quality crop-specific
growing information and timely trend data that can help operations thrive in today’s
During the last few years, we’ve developed other forms of connecting with our readership
that reflects how growers and retailers get their information. We were at the forefront
of digital communication when we launched our first e-newsletter, Acres Online,
in 2003. Since then, we’ve introduced newsletters for every segment of the industry.
We also host live and on-demand webinars and podcasts on a wide range of topics,
have a robust educational video library on our YouTube channel, and our social media
presence allows for an immediate and interactive way to engage with our readers.
Regardless of platform, whether through print or digital, our goal has always been
to bring the worlds of growing and retailing closer together, giving everyone in
the industry a trade publication they can turn to for timely information and the
latest industry news.