Growing Globally

Demand for unrooted cuttings continues to be strong as growers seek low-cost inputs in the right quantities delivered just in time for their production schedules. Global producers who were once considered specialists have become one-stop shops, providing a full array of annuals, perennials, herbs and blooming potted crops in a single shipment.

Consider Syngenta Flowers, which represents the merger of Fischer with S&G Flowers under parent company Syngenta. Fischer began in Germany as a geranium specialist and added poinsettias and New Guinea impatiens. All three were staple vegetative crops. Then a partnership with Goldsmith Seeds brought a complete line of vegetative annuals.

Meanwhile, S&G Flowers had developed its line of vegetative annuals by breeding key products for Proven Winners and then launched its own A Cut Above unrooted line, which also included perennials. Staple crops were missing and S&G introduced geranium and New Guinea impatiens series the year before Syngenta acquired Fischer.

This is the first year we’re able to see the effects of their consolidated production. While last year Fischer produced between 325 million and 375 million cuttings a year, S&G produced 150 million. Combined, Syngenta Flowers is now producing between 400 million and 450 million cuttings, a reduction of 75 million cuttings, most likely due to redundancies.

Based in Basel, Switzerland, Syngenta is a publicly held world-leading agribusiness company. Its cuttings farms are in Ethiopia, Kenya, Portugal, Israel, Guatemala, Mexico and the Canary Islands.

Expansion Mode

Although Syngenta isn’t reporting expansion plans for next year, five of the Top 10 Cuttings producers indicated they will be adding to their facilities – Oro Farms in Guatemala, Florexpo in Costa Rica, Cohen Propagation Nurseries in Israel and the Germany-based GGG International in the United States and South America. German breeder-producer Dümmen will be adding more than 17 acres to its farm in Ethiopia, bringing that farm to nearly 80 acres. Dümmen also has 22 acres in Costa Rica and plans to be the first to build a cuttings farm in El Salvador.

“The new farm in El Salvador is running behind schedule, but our goal is to produce geraniums there in the 2009-2010 season,” says Dümmen’s Managing Director Perry Wismans. “Our strongest growth is in our new Savannah geranium line and Potunia petunias. The latter is gaining ground very fast.” He adds that he expects a new Garden Collection of spring annuals to be a growth area, along with producing varieties from fellow German breeder Westhoff.

Across the board, spring annuals are the biggest growth driver. Selecta First Class is seeing gains in flowering potted plants, most notably poinsettias in Europe. GroLink has been successful with nonflowering, accent type plants with striking foliage, like acalypha, graptophylum, alternanthera and coleus, a key product line.

GGG International is differentiating itself by promoting unique breeding lines, including double-flowered bacopas and a new cross between verbena and phlox called Velox. Cohen Propagation Nurseries in Israel is providing virus-free material and private stock services for many breeders.

Florexpo, the cuttings production arm of broker McGregor Plant Sales, is offering USDA-certified organic herbs. While many cuttings farms are certified for quality control, Florexpo is the only one with organic certification. The certification program of choice is the Dutch Naktuinbow (NAKT) program. Syngenta, GGG International and Cohen all have NAKT certifications. GroLink reports it follows NAKT protocols but is not certified. Geranium producers such as Fides, Syngenta, Selecta and Dümmen also have special certification from USDA, as a safeguard against introducing diseases specific to geraniums.

Containing Costs

The sharp decline in the U.S. dollar has made it less attractive for European companies to sell cuttings in the United States and the cuttings more expensive for U.S. growers. Farms in countries with currencies linked to the dollar are less affected by the erosion in value.

Reducing costs is the primary reason offshore farms exist. Our industry has moved most stock plant maintenance and labor required to propagate cuttings offshore and freed up our greenhouses for more efficient finished production that brings in dollars. Obvious draws are lower wages for workers and optimal growing climates. But fuel and transportation costs continue to be a great concern for offshore producers.

Syngenta has implemented a full-time logistics department to address shipping costs and make sure cuttings arrive stress free for both the plants and grower customers.

On the logistics side, more producers are investing and upgrading their information technology. Both Oro Farms and GroLink/Athena have invested in Picas Greenhouse Production Software, which has been popular with many leading young plant producers who root cuttings.

All our Top 10 Cuttings Producers agree delivering high quality and exceptional service at the right price is the key to success. Order fulfillment is what will separate the best from the rest. Wismans says Dümmen strives to be the most reliable and easiest supplier to work with.

“Dümmen has worked very hard to bring the claim rate back by delivering on time and good quality,” he says. “This has brought our claim percentage to under one half a percent, the best in our 40-year history. The gain we made here has been 100 percent added to our profit. “To be successful, we have to deliver a good, clean cutting on time, without changes to what has been confirmed. With the decreasing margins, there is no room for error.”

Leave a Reply

More From Plant Culture...

May 22, 2015

Nexus Greenhouses Is Optimistic For Expansion Into New Markets

Cheryl Longtin and Mike Porter, who own Nexus Corporation, say they were excited to attend the grand opening of Gotham Greens’ new structure atop the new Whole Foods grocery store in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., when it opened in December 2013. The project is just one example of some of the new and expanding markets that Nexus Corporation has expanded into over the past few years. Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus, says the company has enjoyed getting to know and working with the founders of Gotham Greens, Viraj Puri and Eric Haley, and Jennifer Nelkin Frymark, the chief agriculture officer, on their innovative approach to business. “They are very excited and work hard internally – just great people,” he says. “From our perspective, it’s great to see that excitement and vision. The employees there are happy and there’s no turnover; they’re only adding new people […]

Read More
Farwest2015

May 20, 2015

2015 Farwest Show Announces Second Annual Equipment Innovation Day

The second annual Equipment Innovation Day will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, prior to the 2015 Farwest show, which will be August 27-29 in Portland, Ore. Equipment Innovation Day, which was enthusiastically received in 2014, offers a real-time opportunity to see new heavy and automated nursery equipment in action. The demonstrations take place in manufacturing and nursery settings, adding value to the showcase. Attendees will be able to talk with participating manufacturers and learn first-hand from innovative growers who use the equipment in daily operations. The day-long event will be held at the main manufacturing plant of GK Machines, Inc., Donald, Ore. Further demonstrations of field equipment will take place at the nearby nursery of A&R Spada Farms, LLC. Bus travel to and from the event is planned, starting at and returning to the Oregon Convention Center. Attendees are welcome to provide their own travel to and from the site. Preregistration is required. The cost […]

Read More
Bee On Flower

May 20, 2015

White House Task Force Releases Pollinator Health Strategy

An interagency Pollinator Health Task Force commissioned by President Obama released its “Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” on May 19. The strategy, released in accordance with the Presidential Memorandum issued last June, is accompanied by a Pollinator Research Action Plan, which outlines needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve pollinator health. The recommended actions will be supported by a coordination of existing federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to losses in pollinator populations. Pages 47 through 52 specifically address pesticides and pollinators. The report calls out plant production, native plants, mosquito control and all urban uses in its Pollinator Action Plan. RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) says it supports the goals of improving pollinator health and habitat contained in the White House Pollinator Task Force’s release of its National […]

Read More
Latest Stories
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
AmericanHort

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

September 16, 2014

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas Facility Provides Gro…

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas farm in Esteli, Nicaragua, is one year away from full production, but sales and quality from the two-year-old facility are right on track.

Read More
Erysimum 'Cheers' from Darwin Perennials

September 15, 2014

Darwin Perennials Takes Production Offshore In Bogota, …

With its recent purchase of a farm in Colombia, Darwin Perennials is ready to amp up supply of its perennial genetics, to provide growers with tried-and-true varieties and comprehensive production specifications.

Read More

July 23, 2014

Plan Now To Prevent Bract Edge Burn On Poinsettias

Reduce fertilizer and water, and allow your poinsettias to develop slowly during the final four weeks of production to avoid bract edge burn.

Read More

July 11, 2014

Growing Your Crops Above Their Base Temperature

Lowering temperature set points in the greenhouse may help you combat rising heating costs.

Read More

May 1, 2014

Growers Report Nutritional Problems On Geraniums

In recent weeks, several growers have contacted Michigan State University Specialists about leaf discoloration on geraniums, especially the purpling of lower leaves.

Read More

April 22, 2014

How Two Postharvest Care Products Worked On Potted Plan…

What your potted plants look like at retail translates to sales or fails. North Carolina State University researchers report on how two postharvest care products performed.

Read More
Dianthus 'Passion' from Emerald Coast Growers

March 27, 2014

Growing Dianthus Successfully

Here's some advice on transplanting and producing this classic perennial favorite.

Read More
Aquilegia canadensis

March 10, 2014

Tips For Producing Aquilegia

Advice on planting, temperature, vernalization, lighting and more on columbine from Emerald Coast Growers' head grower Josiah Raymer.

Read More