Today’s number one issue to solve is retail performance of the poinsettia. One of my biggest dreams is to see every poinsettia that is offered in the market looking as fresh as possible – not suffering shipping damage or warehouse stress – and at the same time have consumer appeal. It is interesting that this vision is not unique to today and was a vision of both my father, Paul Ecke Jr. and of my grandfather, Paul Ecke Sr.
Twenty-five years can produce a lot of advancements that will help the grower be more efficient and reduce costs to produce, like having varieties that can grow at lower temperatures. Twenty-five years will provide the consumer with further exciting varieties just as we see today in ‘Ice Punch,’ ‘Jester’ and ‘Strawberries N Cream.’ As a breeder, we can already envision these products, but we hold before release, while we perfect conceptual products just as we did with ‘Winter Rose.’ Hopefully we won’t have to wait the 30 years and a breeder’s lifetime to perfect varieties, as ‘Winter Rose’ demanded! We will continue to make sure varieties work for both grower and consumer before they find their way to the market.
At Ecke Ranch, our development team does not like to copy ideas but rather to mold a vision. One of the greatest pleasures on the Ranch is to watch the progress of new colors, better grower traits and visions of what a consumer will be excited about in the future. Some of the fun is codenaming the vision and seeing the genetics develop. We had the ‘Jerry Garcia’ plant in the past. This was a plant that some product test consumers offered $100 just to place on their dining table, but growers would have cringed at growing the plant! Therefore, this plant will have to wait in the lab before seeing a place in the commercial market.
Technologies used to produce the inter-specific poinsettia, ‘Dulce Rosa,’ and new techniques for color creation are exciting to us and will continue to be used to expand the poinsettia gene pool. Recently added staff to support our existing team assures that there is much to be achieved over the next 25 years. Staying connected to the grower community assures that we will focus on both grower and consumer traits. Our number one goal is making sure tomorrow’s consumer wants and needs poinsettias in their home during the holidays of the future.