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
National Garden Bureau California Vegetable Summer Trials

May 26, 2016

California Summer Vegetable Trials In August Will Cover…

The National Garden Bureau is once again organizing summer vegetables trials this August in California, giving attendees the opportunity to visit with several breeding companies.

Read More
IGC App For 2016 Shows

May 26, 2016

IGC Shows Release Free Apps To Help You Plan For Both T…

Free event planning apps for each show are now available for download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

Read More
SBI Rack Scanning feature

May 26, 2016

Take Your Data Management To The Next Level

New developments in software technology allow growers to customize inventory, tracking, and labor performance into systems unique to their greenhouse operations.

Read More
Eason 2017 Perennials Guide

May 25, 2016

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials G…

The two guides are available in digital and print versions and offer information from several breeders.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

May 25, 2016

15 New Perennials For Bees, Butterflies, And Other Poll…

These 15 new perennials, available for retail in 2016 and 2017, will produce colorful flowers and foliage year after year, providing habitat and food for bees, butterflies, birds, moths, and other pollinators.

Read More
P.Allen Smith Cut Flowers

May 25, 2016

Sakata Seed America And P. Allen Smith Extend Partnersh…

Sakata is taking its partnership with plantsman P. Allen Smith a step further to create the P. Allen Smith Home Grown Cut Flowers Collection, a selection of premium cut flower seed hand-picked by Smith and bred exclusively by Sakata.

Read More
Triathlon BA container shot

May 24, 2016

OHP’s Triathlon Biofungicide Now Listed By The Organic …

Triathlon BA is a broad-spectrum preventative biofungicide that provides control of many foliar and soilborne diseases in ornamentals and herbs.

Read More
Costa Farms won International Grower of the Year. Representing the operation, (left to right) were Chuck Zala, Michael Vera, Menachem Ganon, Jose Costa, and Mike Rimland

May 24, 2016

AIPH Seeking Entries For Its International Grower of th…

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) is inviting ornamental growers from all around the world to enter the AIPH International Grower of the Year Awards (IGOTY) for 2017. Last year’s big winner was Florida-based Costa Farms.

Read More
Coleus Fancy Feathers Pink (Terra Nova Nurseries)

May 23, 2016

Take A Sneak Peek at Terra Nova Nurseries’ New Coleus F…

A brand-new collection of Terra Nova Nurseries coleus varieties called the Fancy Feathers Series is now available to growers for online orders. The series produces narrow, feather-like leaves and offers a mounded habit.

Read More
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

May 23, 2016

What’s Good For The Environment Is Good For Business [O…

Investing in technology to become more sustainable “always goes hand in hand,” says Abe VanWingerden, co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses. “If it is good for the environment, it normally is good for business over the long term.” That connection was abundantly clear in the responses we received to this year’s Top 100 Growers Survey. VanWingerden points to three investments Metrolina has made as good examples of how technology can reduce an operation’s carbon footprint and pay dividends financially. Its biomass system burns locally sourced waste wood — a renewable resource; its ozone water treatment system cleans irrigation water, reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and improving plant quality and precision growing; and electrostatic sprayers reduce water and chemical use, and provide more targeted chemical applications. Other Top 100 Growers have found VanWingerden’s theory to be true, as well. Costa Farms’ investment in solar energy panels on three buildings at its […]

Read More

May 23, 2016

Ian Baldwin Sees Several Garden Trends Developing This …

The garden industry consultant reads the mid-spring tea leaves and sees several trends emerging.

Read More

May 23, 2016

Manhattan’s Urban Garden Center Suffers Second Di…

Two years after a nearby gas explosion destroyed the store in Manhattan's Spanish Harlem, Urban Garden Center had a four-alarm fire that disrupted a popular train route, and the garden retailer is now dealing with an angry community.

Read More
Aerial_view_of_the_Bayer_cross_high_res

May 23, 2016

Bayer Sells Consumer Garden Products Division To French…

The sale to SBM Développement comes just as Bayer AG makes a bid for Monsanto.

Read More
GG Tech Editorial Advisors Feature Image

May 23, 2016

Meet The New Editorial Advisors For Greenhouse Growe…

Greenhouse Grower TECHNOLOGY presents the inaugural members of its Editorial Advisory Board, six pillars of knowledge about greenhouse automation and technology. Get to know each of these gentlemen and what they’ll help bring to each issue.

Read More
Pythium On Chrysanthemum

May 20, 2016

How To Prevent Pythium In Fall Garden Mums

Avoid profit loss in fall garden mums due to pythium root rot with good drainage and integrated pest management practices that reduce risk factors.

Read More
Agro-K

May 19, 2016

Agro-K Expands Distribution In New England Through Part…

Agro-K, which manufactures conventional and organic foliar plant nutrients, will distribute its full line of foliar fertilizers and soil biological products through NEAG.

Read More
Stained poinsettia foliage from high iron

May 19, 2016

Minimize Build-up In Your Water Pipes

This article is the third in a series of case studies designed to help growers reduce, remediate, and recycle irrigation water as part of a multi-state research grant (CleanWateR3.org).

Read More

May 17, 2016

Your Best Greenhouse Is Your Best Bet For Growing Veget…

It doesn’t matter if it’s a retrofitted greenhouse or brand new freestanding high tunnel, the type of structure you use for your vegetable growing makes all the difference in the quality of the crop you grow.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]