From Breeder To Market

From  Breeder To Market

On the way home from the group trip Fides hosted in South Africa (page 108), I spent two days visiting growers in Holland and Germany. I had the pleasure of spending an entire day with Ike Vlielander, who has devoted his career to breeding kalanchoes for Fides and helping growers succeed with their crops. In addition to visiting three Dutch growers who built their businesses on kalanchoes, we got up bright and early to visit the Flora Holland auction, which merged with the other large auction house in Aalsmeer this year.

Inspired early on by legendary breeder Claude Hope, who had also worked with kalanchoe, Vlielander has introduced more than 160 varieties including the double-flowered Calandivas, which won six international awards in 2004. “When you think back 32 years ago, about 1 million kalanchoes were sold at the auction and grown from seed,” he says. “Now 100 million kalanchoe plants are sold. So we did something good together with the growers.”

Fides’ headquarters is in Naaldwijk, which is part of the Westland east of Delft in between the Hague and Rotterdam. “In the Westland, six villages make up the heart of the European glasshouse industry,” Vlielander says. “There used to be 10,000 growers here. Now there are 4,000. The nurseries remaining are getting bigger.”

Proximity to the auction also brings advantages. “There’s a saying that if you can see that tower from your greenhouse, your prices will be the best, especially compared to growers outside the Westland,” he says. “Logistically, the auction is so close, you can fill orders fast.”

On The Auction Block

Flora Holland, which is gearing up for a big expansion, spans nearly 8 million square feet and has the equivalent of 20 football fields in cold storage. It has 3,000 employees who facilitate sales for 6,000 growers and 4,000 active buyers ranging from small shopkeepers to exporters. An average of 7 million euros worth of floral products are sold each day, reaching 1.9 billion euros a year.

All the leading floral distributors and exporters have offices on site. About 60 percent of the sales are processed outside the auction clock to exporters, who bill through the auction. Supermarkets and large retailers tend to buy this way in large volumes. There also is an onsite outlet for smaller buyers to purchase a wide spectrum of plants and floral supplies wholesale.

The auction also protects the industry by monitoring and promoting high quality standards. This is one reason floral auctions are very successful in Holland and not in other countries, where growers tend to send lesser material. “Here, that’s not allowed,” Vlielander says. “If it’s rubbish, forget about it. There are too many growers here. If you destroy your own quality, forget about it. Growers throw away stuff they think is not good enough for the auction. It hurts their reputation, their name.”

Fresh cut flowers and plant material are staged in carts by product category before the auction and then sorted by buyer in a buffer area after the auction. Hundreds of employees zoom around lining up each buyer’s order in “streets.” Rows with a green light are ready to go. From the overlooking catwalk, Vlielander says, “This hall looks like an ant heap, but don’t be deceived.  This system is very organized and efficient.”

Growing Markets Together

Since Dutch growers are true mono-culture crop specialists, this provides a unique opportunity for a breeder to work closely with growers to build and create markets, perfect production practices, breed varieties for specific sizes and conditions, and develop products that are completely new.

We visited two operations owned by brothers who specialize in kalanchoes but serve different niches.

Younger brother Jan van Luijk purchased a cut lisianthus range three years ago and installed rolling tables, automation and grading equipment for blooming potted plants. Seventy percent of his production is single-flowered kalanchoe in seven key colors and 30 percent is the double-flowered Calandiva series. With one full-time employee and a few part timers, he produces an average of 45,000 plants a week in 130,000 square feet of greenhouse space.

Older brother Fred van Luijk named his business Kwekeij de Veranda after Fides’ Veranda varieties, which are a summer crop. Today, he grows Calandivas and two unique upright varieties that are from different species in the kalanchoe family. Van Luijk is the exclusive grower for ‘Lucky Bells’ in the Netherlands and has regional exclusivity on ‘Magic Bells.’ One key retail customer is Tesco in the United Kingdom. Production is tricky for these varieties.

“The secret of ‘Lucky Bells’ is to keep it dry for at least six weeks,” Vlielander says. “It’s devastating for a grower to see because every inch of your body says it needs water, but keeping it dry keeps it compact. One week after watering, it will grow tall–just a few drops and it will shoot up. Kalanchoes in general need to start dry. When I see them watered overhead like mums, it’s like cursing in church. All over the world, I see basic rules forgotten.”

Van Luijk showed him two tables that were not in flower for no apparent reason. “So we’ve still got riddles in our crops,” Vlielander says. “I know growers don’t like it, but I love problems, finding out what’s happening and what’s the reason. After 32 years, I still find new challenges every day.”

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “From Breeder To Market

  1. Hello,

    We are undertaking a development that will produce huge amounts of class A compost material and we need to talk to a grower who is interested in establishing a greenhouse system that will be very large and our interests are in companies or a company from Holland

    Please contact us by phone at 760 877-4107 or return e-mail

  2. Hi, I grow and sell, amongst other things, Kalanchoe Bells in KwaZulu Natal South Africa but my plants have developed a spot that I suspect is fungal. It looks like scale but is endophytic. Has Mr Ike Vlielander ever encountered such a thing? It has made many of my plants unsellable. Many Thanks Jody Fuchs; South Africa.

  3. Hello,

    We are undertaking a development that will produce huge amounts of class A compost material and we need to talk to a grower who is interested in establishing a greenhouse system that will be very large and our interests are in companies or a company from Holland

    Please contact us by phone at 760 877-4107 or return e-mail

  4. Hi, I grow and sell, amongst other things, Kalanchoe Bells in KwaZulu Natal South Africa but my plants have developed a spot that I suspect is fungal. It looks like scale but is endophytic. Has Mr Ike Vlielander ever encountered such a thing? It has made many of my plants unsellable. Many Thanks Jody Fuchs; South Africa.

More From Varieties...
Chick Charms

April 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: Why The Plant Collector Market Is Set To Explode, And What It Means For You

In his latest column for Greenhouse Grower magazine, Kelly Norris says there are more plant collectors out there than we think, which opens the way for the gift plant market to explode.

Read More
Pennisetum Fireworks

April 28, 2016

Why Ornamental Grasses Are Great For People In Condos And Apartments

Allan Armitage says breeders need to do a better job of making growers, brokers, and garden centers aware of better ornamental grass cultivars for the increasingly shrinking garden space.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 27, 2016

Know Your Market When Choosing Ornamental Grasses

Growers have no shortage of choices in the ornamental grass market. Narrowing down the selection comes down to finding the right plant for the right purpose.

Read More
Latest Stories
Chick Charms

April 29, 2016

Kelly Norris: Why The Plant Collector Market Is Set To …

In his latest column for Greenhouse Grower magazine, Kelly Norris says there are more plant collectors out there than we think, which opens the way for the gift plant market to explode.

Read More
Pennisetum Fireworks

April 28, 2016

Why Ornamental Grasses Are Great For People In Condos A…

Allan Armitage says breeders need to do a better job of making growers, brokers, and garden centers aware of better ornamental grass cultivars for the increasingly shrinking garden space.

Read More
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 27, 2016

Know Your Market When Choosing Ornamental Grasses

Growers have no shortage of choices in the ornamental grass market. Narrowing down the selection comes down to finding the right plant for the right purpose.

Read More
Bee on Bidens

April 25, 2016

Breeders Go The Distance To Bring New Plant Varieties T…

Breeders are meeting the demand for new varieties that perform and sell well by extending trialing to engage the grower community, using advanced technology, and encouraging international collaboration.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

April 20, 2016

Growers And Breeders Are Always Looking For A Better To…

While edibles become more diverse, there's one goal that hard-core gardeners and urban foodscapers share.

Read More
Syngenta Pentas

April 20, 2016

Syngenta Flowers Opens Its Perennial Genetics To The Ma…

California Spring Trials 2016 visitors to Syngenta Flowers found the breeder company and its employees happy and excited for the future, in the wake of the announcement of its acquisition by ChemChina. Now Syngenta Flowers is ready to move forward with its breeding efforts in geraniums, pentas, and other crops, and it is opening its perennials offerings to the whole supply chain for a better chance to get those plants to retail.     Syngenta Wants To Revolutionize Geranium Breeding The big news in this year’s trial, says Karl Trellinger, Technical Services Representative at Syngenta, is the change in Syngenta’s breeding efforts in geraniums and pentas. The Calliope geranium series, long considered a premium line in the market, is getting a makeover. Growers have told the breeder that they love the colors available in the Calliope series, but the plants are just too vigorous for smaller containers and combinations. As […]

Read More
Petunia Vista Bubblegum (Proven Winners)

April 20, 2016

Proven Winners Funds Gardening “It Couple,” Names Plant…

Since 1992, Proven Winners has been changing the gardening game, and it’s not stopping now. With new plants, improved series, and interesting retail customers, the brand aims to make planning easier for growers, and make gardening easier and more fun for consumers. At its new 2016 California Spring Trials location at Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy, Proven Winners had the space and a beautiful setting to lay all of its offerings out, from new and improved varieties in annuals, perennials, and shrubs, to marketing and retail programs. Check out the slideshow below for highlights.   Proven Winners Is Flexing Its Marketing Muscle One of the ways Proven Winners is working toward better use of its products and gardening in general, is by supporting the gardening authorities that gardeners of all ages trust on social media. Director of Marketing Marshall Dirks says while searching for influential gardeners, he came across a young […]

Read More
Scaevola 'Purple Haze' (Danziger 2016)

April 19, 2016

Allan Armitage Picks His Favorites From Proven Winners,…

From “crazy” petunias to container pentas, there was plenty that caught Allan’s eye during the final day of 2016 California Spring Trials.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

April 19, 2016

Golden State Bulb Company Shows Off New Concepts In Cal…

There’s no question that Golden State Bulb Company’s specialty is in breeding virtually any color of Calla Lily, available in about any habit — cut flower, bouquet pot, upright pot type — the list goes on. But now, the bulb specialist is focusing on making calla lilies more accessible to the masses, for use in combination planters and the landscape, with calla six-packs. Calla breeder Peter Beckman showed us the shrunken-down version of these beauties, and they’re certainly perfect for patio pots, planting along paths or at the front of the garden, or en masse for an elegant statement. This presentation makes it easy for consumers to pick up and use callas, without the intimidation they might feel from a bulb crop, says Dr. Allan Armitage.   They’re also versatile for growers to plant in early to mid-February to add to finished containers in the spring, or to sell in […]

Read More
Disney Trial Garden

April 17, 2016

Mark Your Calendars For Florida Flower Trials In May

The two-day event, which takes place in Orlando, is held in conjunction with the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival and offers educational seminars, tours, and open houses.

Read More
Dianthus Paint the Town Fuchsia_CJW14 (2)

April 16, 2016

Proven Winners Focuses On A Better Consumer Garden Expe…

Excellent, long-lasting performance, and easy maintenance are at the core of Proven Winners’ introductions.

Read More

April 15, 2016

Pacific Plug & Liner Features Plenty Of New Varieti…

One of the best-merchandised spots on the California Spring Trials is always Pacific Plug & Liner (PP&L), where the greenhouse is stocked with beautiful plants and displays, and the people are dressed to the nines and graciously ready to help in any way.

Read More

April 15, 2016

American Takii Commemorates 180 Years Of Industry Commi…

American Takii, Hilverdakooij, and newcomer HMA Plants show off zombie-zone celosia, new dianthus, and hip succulents.

Read More

April 15, 2016

Ernst Benary of America Takes Plant Fashion Week To The…

Ernst Benary of America gave growers a taste of the fashion world during the new variety promenade held during California Spring Trials 2016.

Read More
Fashion Show At Benary

April 15, 2016

California Spring Trials: Dr. Allan Armitage Notes Emer…

Attractive new varieties will draw the eyes of consumers, but innovation and creativity will keep them coming back.

Read More
Delizz Strawberry packaging

April 14, 2016

ABZ Seeds’ Delizz Strawberry Makes Mouths Water At Spee…

Speedling, Inc. hosted Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, ABZ Seeds, Plant Source International, and Vista Farms For California Spring Trials 2016. Here are some of the highlights of the trial.

Read More
Crazytunia Citrus Twist

April 14, 2016

Dr. Allan Armitage’s Top Picks From Floricultura And Sa…

The best new flower introductions have the power to turn a non-believer into a fan. Check out Dr. Allan Armitage’s top picks from his visit to Sakata and Floricultura, the latter of which hosted a number of breeders.

Read More
Begonia Evi Pink and Evi Bright Pink

April 14, 2016

Westhoff, Beekenkamp, PAC-Elsner And Plug Connection Pr…

Floricultura-Pacifica in Salinas opened its doors to invite California Spring Trials visitors to experience new offerings from European breeders including Westhoff Flowers, Beekenkamp, and PAC-Elsner, as well as California native The Plug Connection. While there, it was interesting to witness the ongoing and highly automated production of orchids, as well as construction of more greenhouse space happening simultaneously. As is tradition, Westhoff Flowers invited its visitors to flag their favorite combos at the entrance, and showed off its unique assortment of annuals, as well as a few concepts. The breeder is working loosely with Florist Holland to show mixes used with Westhoff Flowers — or Westflowers — annuals and Florist gerberas in the center. The combinations are bright and cheerful, and spur a happy reaction in those who have seen them, so it will be interesting to see what happens with this concept going forward. Another new idea is putting together […]

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