Benary Is Big On Breeding

Benary Is Big On Breeding

The timing couldn’t be better to present German flower breeder Benary with our Medal of Excellence for Industry Achievement. This year and next, Benary is celebrating its 100-year milestone of introducing the very first F1 hybrid, which happened to be in its signature genus, begonias.

Introduced in 1909, the begonia was ‘Prima-Donna,’ the first tetraploid F1 hybrid begonia and a semperflorens type. Breakthrough begonias that followed include:

– ‘Tausendschön,’ the first triploid F1 hybrid and a semperflorens type.

– Nonstop tuberous begonias that revolutionized the bedding plant market in 1972 and remain the industry standard.

– Party and Cocktail series in semperflorens types, with Cocktail remaining the most popular bronze-leafed series asked for by name. These series have been upgraded for earliness with the Olympia Sprints.

– The new BIG series, introduced at the California Pack Trials, is an interspecific cross. Robust plants offer large flowers and glossy leaves that flourish in sun or shade in Red with Green Leaf, Red with Bronze Leaf and Rose with Bronze Leaf.

In other exciting news, Benary has brought a new genus to market with Ptilotus ‘Joey,’ which is nominated for all three of our breeding awards this year. Benary also helped the city of Denver celebrate its 150th anniversary by breeding a new rudbeckia just for the city called ‘Denver Daisy.’

A Fascinating Heritage

Ernst Benary founded his own seed breeding company in 1843 in Erfurt, Germany, after traveling throughout Europe, gathering extensive knowledge about breeding varieties from seed. His guiding principles, which remain to this day, were premium quality genetics and innovation.

From the very beginning, the business grew internationally. Erfurt was a budding industrial giant in the world of vegetable and flower seed production because of its ideal climate. It didn’t take long for Benary to be recognized by leaders in the field. His pea seed was used by Gregor Mendel in his famous genetic experiments. There was even Benary Seed on the Titanic en route to the United States when the ship sank.

By 1912, the business had developed into one of the world’s premier seed companies with more than 200 employees and more than 140 acres under cultivation. Then, during World War I, many of the male employees and family members were drawn into the military and did not return from the war. Almost all exports collapsed and the company was forced to shift from flowers to vegtetables to supply domestic needs.

At that same time, new seed production centers were established in California, Japan and The Netherlands. Ernst’s grandsons, Ernst II and Heinrich Benary worked hard to rebuild the business focusing on innovative breeding. In 1927, Benary introduced the first F1 hybrid tomato, ‘Heterosis.’

During this time of restructuring, the Nazi regime emerged, causing problems for the company. Although the founder, Ernst Benary I, had converted from Jewish to Protestant religion shortly before he married, his Jewish ancestry caused problems for the family. At the beginning of World War II, Friedrich Benary II, the oldest son, and his cousin, Heinz, volunteered for military service to protect their families from anti-Semitic persecution.

Heinz did not return from the war, and shortly after Friedrich returned, the family business was disowned by the East German government and Benary was forced to move to sustain the business. Friedrich fled to Western Germany and rebuilt the business in the middle of Germany in the town of Hannoversch Mönden. Because the majority of the breeding projects were left in Erfurt, Friedrich traveled throughout Europe by bicycle to collect seeds to start new breeding efforts.

He was a gifted and passionate breeder, and due to his talent and enthusiasm, the family business was able to rebuild its international contacts and produce new breeding lines. In the 1960s, Benary returned its focus exclusively to flower seed breeding.

An Independent Spirit Lives On

In 2006, Benary completed its succession into the sixth generation. The company has 250 employees and sells 80 percent of its seed abroad to more than 110 countries. In addition to begonias, key crops include pentas and rudbeckia, all of which Benary holds global market share. The company also is one of the leaders in perennial breeding, focusing on niches. 

Today, Benary has an assortment of more than 2,000 annual and perennial items, including more than 200 F1 hybrids. Among these are nearly 20 All-America Selection winners, such as rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun,’ gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun,’ celosia ‘Fresh Look’ and Salvia farinacea ‘Evolution.’  A passion for breeding has been the heartbeat of Benary for more than 165 years. It has helped the family business overcome national and corporate crises, while yielding fascinating new introductions. As a family business, Benary is proud of its history of independence and believes the best and most innovative creations can only arise from a free spirit. Its strategy is not to become a large breeding conglomerate but to remain independent and focus on its core strengths of quality, reliability and innovation. 

We are proud to honor Benary for its heritage and global achievements in floriculture. 

Leave a Reply

5 comments on “Benary Is Big On Breeding

Latest Stories

July 25, 2017

H-2B Gets Cap Increase – Here’s How it Impacts Ho…

Greenhouse Grower caught up with AmericanHort’s Craig Regelbrugge to find out how changes to the non-agricultural guestworker program impacts us, and what it could mean for changes to H-2A, the agricultural guestworker program.

Read More
Cultivate Town Hall 2017

July 25, 2017

Cultivate Town Hall Discussion Highlights Great Potenti…

This year’s Town Hall forum at Cultivate’17 focused on how consumable products have the potential to revolutionize the industry.

Read More
Lighting Book Light Management in Controlled Environments

July 25, 2017

Three Lucky Lighting Book Winners at Cultivate’17

Each day during Cultivate’17, the Greenhouse Grower/Meister Media Worldwide booth gave away one copy of “Light Management in Controlled Environments.”

Read More
Farwest Show Floor

July 25, 2017

Heading to Farwest 2017? Make Sure You Register by July…

July 31 is the last day to take advantage of early-bird registration discounts for the show, which includes the trade show, all education seminars and pesticide classes, and nursery country tours.

Read More
Decorative Premium Hanging Baskets (Ainong USA)

July 25, 2017

16 Products That Garden Retailers Loved at Cultivate’17

In what has become an annual tradition at Cultivate, a team of garden retailers presented awards for their picks as the best new products (both live goods and hard goods) from Cultivate’17.

Read More
Craig Regelbrugge

July 23, 2017

Horticulture Industry Insiders Offer Tips on Communicat…

With immigration in the spotlight and a national budget that could severely impact horticulture industry programs, it’s more important than ever to be vocal about how the decisions that lawmakers are implementing impact your business.

Read More

July 22, 2017

Craig Regelbrugge: Proposed Budget Cuts Could Eliminate…

President Trump’s proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year includes significant cuts to the Agricultural Research Service, which supports the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative.

Read More

July 21, 2017

New Products Zone at Cultivate’17 Features Goods …

The New Products zone is always a popular exhibit at Cultivate’17. Here’s a sampling of some of the many items on display that could make growing easier than ever before.

Read More
EOE Ushio Sakazaki On Stage

July 20, 2017

Highlights from Greenhouse Grower’s Evening Of Excellen…

Greenhouse Grower held its annual Evening of Excellence event on Monday, July 17, during Cultivate’17. The Greenhouse Grower Evening Of Excellence awards reception celebrates greenhouse operations and plant breeders that strive for excellence, and as to be expected, there was much of that to be found during the event.

Read More
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unroo…

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More
Jon Gordon

July 20, 2017

Nine Practices for Positive Leadership That Drive Chang…

Cultivate’17 keynote speaker Jon Gordon encouraged leaders to keep moving forward and confront negativity to create a cohesive, committed team.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were H…

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More

July 20, 2017

Luxflora Attracted Even More Participation to its Secon…

More than 170 runners kicked off Cultivate'16 on Sunday, July 16, with Luxflora's second annual 5k race. It was a great way to start the week, participants said.

Read More
Fluence Bioengineering

July 19, 2017

New Videos Highlight Grower Experiences in Shifting to …

Fluence Bioengineering recently produced two videos in which growers in the U.S. and overseas describe why they switched lighting systems.

Read More
Florida Nursery Economic Impact

July 18, 2017

Florida’s Nursery and Greenhouse Industry Has a Huge Ef…

A new economic impact study from the University of Florida says the green industry contributes more than $21 billion in sales and 230,000 jobs to the Sunshine State’s economy.

Read More
EOE Joe Lara, Aron Hoff, Laura Drotleff

July 18, 2017

Aron Hoff of Meyers Fruit Farms and Greenhouses Named H…

"Everyone on my team is an inspiration, and this award is a testament to what they've done in challenging me to always do better," said Hoff in accepting the award, which was presented during Greenhouse Grower’s Evening of Excellence program.

Read More
EOE Micandy Gardens

July 18, 2017

Micandy Gardens Greenhouses Named Operation of the Year…

"Our team works with passion and has a common goal and purpose: to share the beauty of plants and nature with the world," said Micandy Gardens President Marcelyn Buist-Byl in accepting the award, which was presented during Greenhouse Grower’s Evening of Excellence program.

Read More
EOE Syngenta

July 17, 2017

Greenhouse Grower Honors 2017 Medal of Excellence Breed…

Greenhouse Grower’s Evening of Excellence at Cultivate’17 was a celebration of the 2017 Medal of Excellence Winners that embody the best in breeding, marketing, and growing, and typify the dedication to quality that is so prevalent in our industry. Check out who the big winners were.

Read More