Billion-Cutting Breakthrough

One billion cuttings. That’s a number we hadn’t really fathomed for as long as we’ve been ranking the world’s largest cuttings producers, but with the trend toward industry consolidation, it certainly was in reach. When Fides’ parent company, Agribio Group in Holland, purchased Guatemalan cuttings producer Oro Farms this spring, it instantly put the combined Fides Oro over the billion-cutting threshold. Fides produced 800-850 million cuttings and Oro Farms produced about 200 million.

While most of Fides’ cuttings are purchased by global fresh cut flower farms, Oro was focused on annuals and perennials. In addition to Fides’ breeding, Fides Oro is licensed to produce varieties from a wide range of breeders and agents, including Danziger, Sakata, Terra Nova, Florensis, Hem Genetics, Bartels Stek, Suntory, Cultivaris, Floranova, Lommerce, Kerley, PlantHaven, Rijnbeek & Zoon, ItSaul Plants and Westflowers.

Today, the composition of the combined Fides Oro production is 60 percent cut flower varieties, 20 percent flowering potted plants (notably kalanchoe), 18 percent annuals and 2 percent perennials. About 75 percent of the cuttings are sold to European growers, 15 percent to U.S. growers and 10 percent to other parts of the world.

In the United States, it’s easy to forget how big the global cut flower market is because most of our fresh cut flowers are imported, not produced here. And there’s a global cutting supply chain that supports fresh cut flower farms by providing propagation inputs. Cut flower production remains relatively strong in Dutch greenhouses, as well, to feed the auction system.

The second largest cuttings producer, Beekenkamp, also is based in Holland and is a leader in cut flower production as owner of Deliflor, which produces chrysanthemums. Beekenkamp has plans to increase its presence in blooming potted plants and has specialized in breeding begonias. Up until this point, U.S. growers have tried the Beekenkamp/Florema genetics through Floremara, a joint distribution venture with Holtkamp Greenhouses in Tennessee. Six more brokers in North America just picked up the Beekenkamp breeding lines – Eason Horticultural Resources, Express Seed, McHutchison, McGregor Plant Sales, Norseco and Northern Innovators.

Broker Breakups & Hookups

As the global supply chain consolidates and becomes more vertical – integrating breeding, production and sales organizations – distribution alliances are becoming more important. One summer shocker was Costa Rican cuttings producer Florexpo parting ways with broker McGregor Plants Sales after a 17-year run building business together. Florexpo retained McHutchison and Fred C. Gloeckner as broker partners but picked up a big new one, Ball Horticultural Co., to serve a mutual interest in perennials.

“Florexpo will produce the perennials Ball used to produce, and Ball will sell our combined offering with the Florexpo brand,” says Florexpo Production Manager Fernando Altman Jr. “Working together, we believe we will be able to produce the best and largest perennial program in the world, which will be reinforced on the sales side by our continued association with McHutchison and Gloeckner.”

McGregor Plant Sales President Cathy McClintock says her company has secured new supply partners for perennials and annuals, including Oro Farms, Danziger, Aris, Cohen and Athena, as well as tissue culture labs in Costa Rica, China and Holland.

Sister propagators GroLink in California and Athena in Brazil are also behaving more independently instead of having Athena’s orders flow through GroLink’s sales organization. Over the past few years, Syngenta Flowers has moved toward open distribution of its genetics in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. This is largely because two breeders Syngenta acquired, Goldsmith and Fischer, had open distribution.

As an independent breeder-producer monitoring industry consolidation and breeder/broker activity, Dümmen Managing Director Perry Wismans says, ”Although we see the importance of these developments, our focus remains on the success of our customers. Most consolidations make companies spend their time internally to focus on optimizing processes and programs. Dümmen spends its time with customers to find out what their challenges are and how we can help them to overcome these.”

Raising The Bar On Service

One of growers’ biggest frustrations industrywide is not receiving the cuttings they order, whether they be delayed or substituted. To address this, Dümmen has introduced a True Grower Guarantee on key product lines – petunias, calibrachoas, verbenas, New Guinea impatiens, osteospermums, garden collection and Confetti Garden liners. “With this guarantee, we ensure on-time delivery of confirmed product,” Wismans says. “If we have to substitute or postpone confirmed orders, the affected product is free of charge. This innovative service fits our strategy to take ownership in the struggle for success of our customers.”

Growers have asked how Dümmen is able to offer such a bold guarantee. “We can fall on our face and not make any profit,” Wismans says. “Growers ask, why do you feel comfortable doing this? We have a proven track record the last two years with 98 percent order fill. If our order fill was only 90 percent, we could never do it. We’re only doing this in the U.S. market from product that originates from our new farm in El Salvador, Las Mercedes.”

Innovative varieties and programs, like the Confetti Garden multiliner, have been driving Dümmen’s growth, which is more than 20 percent in the last year. Wismans is especially excited about the new interspecific geranium lines – Cumbanita and Salsarita – which are positioned to take on Syngenta Flowers’ Calliopes and Calientes.

Ball FloraPlant General Manager Allan Davidson agrees superior service and innovative offerings are keys to success. “Reliability is king,” he says. “You also need new genetics, as well as solid-performing core products. Growers have to be able to rely on consistent supply and accurate inventories.”

One program Ball is excited about is the Mix Master line of multicutting liners, using the same 2.0 system Selecta developed for Trixi liners (see page 32). “We also offer these recipes, as well as others, to our unrooted customers, who can produce them in a multitutde of ways,” Davidson says. Ball’s Genesis callused cuttings also have been well received by growers producing geraniums and osteospermums. Scaevola, bracteantha and argyranthemum have just been added to the Genesis program, which shaves two weeks off production.

Paul Ecke Ranch’s Steve Rinehart says its new labor-saving SNAP program, shipping cuttings inserted in a special substrate in a 78 tray, is “the most revolutionary vision to U.S. plant propagation in the last 20 years. We believe this technology will continue to be a key strategy to advance how products are handled in the world. We are leading the industry in offering new production systems for growers to try.” Ecke Ranch just opened a third farm in Guatemala to support this growth.

In this ultra competitive environment, the cuttings producers that are the most responsive, innovative, reliable and easiest to do business with will win.

Leave a Reply

More From Plant Culture...

October 9, 2015

New Biochemical Miticide Is Designed To Combat Varroa Mites In Beehives

EPA recently registered Potassium Salts of Hops Beta Acids (K-HBAs), which is intended to fit into a rotation program to battle resistance.

Read More
Seed Meets Technology

October 9, 2015

Seed Meets Technology Event Highlights Advancements In Vegetable And Bedding Plant Breeding

The second-annual event, held in The Netherlands in September, featured demonstrations, trial fields and presentations on green chemistries for seeds, hydroponics and phenotyping.

Read More

October 8, 2015

Industry Standards For Greenhouse Lighting On The Horizon

As the use of LEDs has risen among greenhouse growers, so have concerns about the best way to measure and compare the many LED light products across the market. As a result, the lighting industry is responding to a call for greater transparency and the development of standardized measuring and testing methods.

Read More
Latest Stories

September 20, 2015

Technology Improves Orchid Production At Green Circle G…

Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, Ohio, has a commitment to using production practices that are efficient and sustainable. The operation has been growing Orchids for nine years, and is entering its second full year with its current system, which entails three camera grades. “The camera grading — first at production into a 5-inch pot, then 12 weeks later and a final grade after the stem and buds have developed — is raising our overall quality,” says Wesley Van Wingerden, director of growing for Green Circle Growers. Greenhouse Grower visited the operation to take a tour of its facilities and learn more about its Orchid production. Read on for more details about the process. The first of the camera grades is incorporated into the transplant process, which involves placing the Orchids from a community tray into 5-inch pots. The plants are separated into three sizes with the smallest returning to the […]

Read More

September 15, 2015

Young Plant Growers Weigh In On Crop Gains, Sales Trend…

Almost 100 young plant producers participated in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Young Plant Grower Survey, which asked growers questions abot crop categories, sales, order fulfillment and more.

Read More
Top20YPGrowers feature image

September 15, 2015

The State Of The 2015 Young Plant Market

Young plant growers in North America are changing their strategies to stay competitive in today’s market. Here is how 2015 shapes up in trends and statistics.

Read More
Vivero International_Endisch

September 8, 2015

Vivero Internacional Continues To Expand Unrooted Cutti…

The tenth largest cuttings farm in the world, Vivero Internacional was founded in 1991 and began exporting unrooted cuttings in 1993. Based in Tepoztlan, Morelos, just outside of Mexico City, Mexico, the operation opened with 2 hectares or 5 acres. With time and new customers, the farm has experienced rapid growth, now spanning 40 hectares or 99 acres, says Vivero’s Dennis Hitzigrath. “The first 10 years, production was doubling every season,” Hitzigrath says. “In the last three years, it’s been about 20 percent.”     The independent operation grows 100 million cuttings annually for several breeders, serving the North American market. Hitzigrath says consolidation among breeders has brought more of a focus on Vivero Internacional from third-party breeders in recent years. This growing interest is spurring even more growth. “We are planning for a minimum growth of 20 percent,” Hitzigrath says. “We are adding more production space and hope to be […]

Read More

August 19, 2015

Greenhouse Growing Recommendations For Lobularia

Modern-day Lobularias are garden classics with good vigor and long bloom times. These growing recommendations will help keep your crop in prime condition.

Read More
Mike McGroarty, owner of Mike’s Backyard Nursery

July 29, 2015

Backyard Success: Mike McGroarty Educates Aspiring Grow…

Mike’s Backyard Nursery sits on a long, narrow, 5-acre property located in Perry, Ohio. There, customers can find a variety of flowering shrubs available, all in 2-quart pots, and all for sale for $5.97 each. Owner Mike McGroarty, a lifelong resident of Perry, says the town has a lot of plant nurseries, including 100 wholesale growers within a 10-mile radius of his house. That doesn’t discourage McGroarty, because he knows that while there are a lot of nurseries in his area, no one else is doing what he is doing. McGroarty has learned about plants — and marketing them to his audience — through decades of experience. He has never hesitated to pass along his knowledge to other growers looking to start their own backyard operations, and has created an entire program to educate aspiring growers. McGroarty Likes To Practice What He Preaches McGroarty’s operation serves as the laboratory for […]

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

June 27, 2015

Concern Grows Over Unregulated Pesticide Use On Cannabi…

As most growers know well, the federal government regulates all insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and other commercial chemicals used on agricultural crops. Therein lies the problem with use of chemicals on cannabis crops – so far, the feds want nothing to do with legalized marijuana. According to “Concern Grows Over Unregulated Pesticide Use On Cannabis,” a June 17 article on the National Public Radio (NPR) network by Agribusiness Reporter Luke Runyon, the lack of regulated chemicals for cannabis has left growers to experiment on their own. “In the absence of any direction the subject of pesticide use on the crop has just devolved to whatever people think is working or they think is appropriate,” said Colorado State University Entomologist Whitney Cranshaw in the NPR report. “Sometimes they’ve used some things that are appropriate, sometimes unsafe.” Denver officials held tens of thousands of marijuana plants earlier this year due to safety concerns, but […]

Read More

June 16, 2015

The Butterfly Effect: Insect’s Wings Key To Azalea Poll…

A researcher from North Carolina State University (NC State) has found that in the case of the flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum), all pollinators are not created equal. In fact, due to the flower’s unique reproductive structure, butterflies — and specifically, their wings — are the key to pollination. The flame azalea is commonly found in the Appalachian Mountains, ranging from as far north as New York to Georgia in the south. Like most azaleas, the flowers are large, and have an unusual structure: both the anther (male) and stigma (female) parts are very elongated and separated from one another. NC State biologist Mary Jane Epps was interested in how the azalea’s flower structure affected its pollination. “In order for a plant to reproduce, a pollinator — usually an insect — has to spread the pollen from the anther to the stigma,” Epps says. “In the case of the flame azalea, […]

Read More
Bee on a Sedum

March 17, 2015

4 Key Pollinator Research Projects To Be Funded By Hort…

The Horticultural Research Institute will grant $125,000 in financial support for four key projects as part of the Horticultural Industry Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. The Initiative has three primary goals. First, to convene a task force to develop a bee and pollinator stewardship program, including creation of best management practices for plant production. Second, to identify and fund research that will help answer key science questions and fill gaps needed to design and refine the stewardship program. Third, to seek to positively position the horticultural community and its customers by collaborating with other compatible groups interested in augmenting pollinator habitat and protection.

Read More

March 11, 2015

Pollinator Initiative Promotes Bee-Friendly Talking Poi…

AmericanHort and the Society of American Florists are working tirelessly with the ornamental industry's Pollinator Stewardship Initiative on a number of new projects.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Infusion Technology Boosts Seed Performance, Study Sugg…

Seven-year-old wheat seed germination can increase by as much as 83 percent, according to a Vital Force Technology Study that looks at the effects of energy infusion technology on plant vitality.

Read More

February 3, 2015

American Floral Endowment Accepting Research Pre-Propos…

If you are pursuing a floriculture research project, now is the time to apply for funding through the American Floral Endowment. Research pre-proposal applications for 2015-2016 funding are due to AFE by June 1, 2015.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Marijuana’s Trajectory And Ascent To Horticultural Cr…

Marijuana growing is poised for change as growers and researchers focus on improving production practices.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Greenhouse Production: Two Years Of Basics & Beyond…

Greenhouse Grower's Basics & Beyond articles cover some of the latest news and research going on in greenhouse production. Here are article links for the last two years.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

November 24, 2014

GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile &…

The social garden app GrowIt! takes the Gold Winner award at the design100 2014 Mobile & App Design Awards.

Read More

November 10, 2014

The Perennial Farm Joins HGTV HOME Plant Collection

The Perennial Farm joins the HGTV HOME Plant Collection growers' network for 2015.

Read More

November 4, 2014

AmericanHort Publishes Revised American Standard For Nu…

AmericanHort announces the revised American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1) is now available for industry use. The Standard reflects the consensus of the industry regarding how nursery stock — living plants other than annuals — should be specified and sold within the trade.

Read More

September 26, 2014

Master The Art Of Watering

Watering is elemental to healthy plants, but one of the hardest concepts for new employees to master in the greenhouse. Recommend these tips to start them off right.

Read More