For the first time in a few years, we have seen minimal consolidation at the breeder level. Perhaps for this reason, with more stability among breeders and the improving economy, cuttings producers, both in the U.S. and offshore around the world, have increased the number of cuttings produced over 2013. They also seem to be ramping up supply for 2015 after last spring’s annuals shortage due to disease pressure from tobacco mosaic virus that was found at Dümmen’s El Salvador facility.
New Names On The List
This year we welcome new names to the Top Cuttings Producers list, including Danziger with a half-billion cuttings and Florensis with up to 230 million cuttings. They likely should have been on the list all along; however, this is the first year they have filled out our cuttings survey.
Beekenkamp broke the 1 billion cuttings ceiling this year. It’s now surpassed Agribio Group for the No. 1 spot on our list, as Agribio is down significantly from its reported 950 to 975 million cuttings in 2013, to 750 million this year. GGG-Gruenewald’s production is also down, from 135 million to 120 million. Meanwhile, Aris Horticulture has increased significantly from 70 million to 130 million, taking the number 10 spot, and Athena Brazil reports 100 cuttings, up from 80 million last year.
New Farms For New Ventures
Aris Horticulture recently sold its perennial unrooted cutting production facility, Green Leaf Plants Colombia, or Flores del Amanecer (FDA), to Darwin Perennials, a division of Ball Horticultural Co.
Located in Bogota, Colombia, FDA is a supplier of unrooted cutting and tissue-culture propagated perennials and cut flower varieties. The acquisition will strengthen Darwin Perennials’ supply chain into the North American market. Learn more about the direction Darwin Perennials is taking offshore and how it will affect Green Leaf Plants.
In 2012, Ball FloraPlant built a new facility in Nicaragua. The state-of-the-art growing facility, Las Limas, is located near the city of Estelí, providing a friendly local workforce and an optimum production environment. Read the full story about Ball’s newest farm.
Near Barberena, Guatemala, southeast of Guatemala City, Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm has built 9 acres of state-of-the-art greenhouses to bring its stock and cuttings farm closer to the U.S. market. Phase one of the farm’s construction was complete in February 2014.
Stepping Up Sanitation
Disease is always a risk, and an outbreak like Dümmen experienced in 2013 is one to which every producer is susceptible. Because of this, several producers are improving sanitation procedures, including Dümmen, which has added two new greenhouses dedicated to petunia production at Las Mercedes farm in El Salvador. Each greenhouse is 4.5 acres in size, for a total of 9 additional acres.
The new petunia greenhouses just received new concrete floors, improving sanitation and making disinfection easier. The greenhouses are divided into 22,000-square-foot compartments, compared to the previously open 200,000-square-foot houses.
“Small compartments, increased protocols and compartmentalization are the keys of these new facilities,” says Mark Schermer of Dümmen Group and Agribio Group. “We are continuously investing in sanitation in our greenhouses and our protocols, using the power of sharing knowledge across all production farms and training our people on awareness of sanitation regimes and their relevance.”
Commitment To Cleanliness
Many of the offshore producers on the list have secured or are pursuing certification through agencies including MPS, Naktuinbouw (NAKT), Global GAP and more.
These certifications ensure and maintain high standards of sanitation, product quality, good agricultural practices, environmental sustainability and social issues. They also give offshore farms the ability to ship plants into the U.S., Europe and Asia, showing that they are reliable producers of high-quality, clean plant material.
“Since our start in cutting production, we have worked with our own Quality Control system (FLAQ, Florensis Approved Quality), local certification schemes and NAKT,” says Robbert Hamer, Florensis. “In addition to this, we have started to certify all our locations by third parties (Global GAP and MPS). We want to leave no question about our business ethics and practices in The Netherlands as in our foreign production locations.”
With increased competition and little room for error, many producers say third-party certification provides that next step in quality and safety.
“All of our farms are pursuing the MPS certification. Next to the environmental chapter of MPS, Dümmen Group is leading the way in corporate social responsibility. We take that matter very seriously,” Schermer says.
Disease pressure offshore has called for more vigilance on the part of all producers, says Martijn Kuiper, Beekenkamp.
“We have always had very stringent sanitation protocol,” Kuiper says. “Events in the last year have put focus again on sharpening the protocol and looking for better ways to keep plants away from any infection sources.”
Sanitation has been an ongoing priority for many years for companies like Ball FloraPlant and Selecta Klemm, with multiple offshore facilities.
“Every year we re-evaluate our sanitation protocols and continuously improve,” says Al Davidson, Ball FloraPlant.
Syngenta Flowers is adding measures to its already stringent program, says Marlon Carrera.
“We have more strict protocols and controls in each step of production, from starting material till harvesting time,” he says. “In other words, an end-to-end, start clear and stay clean approach.”
In Israel, Cohen Propagation Nurseries produces plants for several breeders, and its sanitation protocols have remained very strict to maintain cleanliness for all of its customers.
“All material is built from clean, virus-free, in-vitro material, checked by the labs and also by us,” says Nomi Hen, Cohen Propagation Nurseries. “All material received from the labs has to be NAKT Certified or supplied with a clear list, stating all tests have been done to retrieve viruses and viroids with the negative test results. Our greenhouses have strict entrance and work procedures that are followed by all staff and visitors who enter the premises.”
Now producing completely within the U.S., Aris Horticulture still maintains its sanitation protocol, says Christine Kelleher.
“We continue our clean stock program, which includes annual stock renewal from certified material, growing stock on raised benches and following our clean handling procedures.”