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...
SunPatiens Sakata Medal of Excellence Feature

June 29, 2016

SunPatiens Earns The 2016 Medal Of Excellence In Marketing Award

With its reputation for excellent garden performance from spring to frost, and as a problem-solver for Impatiens Downy Mildew, SunPatiens has become a “hero plant” that helps gardeners succeed.

Read More
Kelly Norris - feature

June 28, 2016

Kelly Norris: Three Variety Trends That Caught My Eye This Spring

My reflections on promising new plants, the realities of market penetration, and adding value along the supply chain.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
Latest Stories
SunPatiens Sakata Medal of Excellence Feature

June 29, 2016

SunPatiens Earns The 2016 Medal Of Excellence In Market…

With its reputation for excellent garden performance from spring to frost, and as a problem-solver for Impatiens Downy Mildew, SunPatiens has become a “hero plant” that helps gardeners succeed.

Read More
Kelly Norris - feature

June 28, 2016

Kelly Norris: Three Variety Trends That Caught My Eye T…

My reflections on promising new plants, the realities of market penetration, and adding value along the supply chain.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Awar…

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties Fo…

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 18, 2016

Mark Your Calendar For Sakata Seed Trials In August

Sakata has set two dates for its California-based trials: Aug. 15-17 in Salinas, and Aug. 17-19 in Woodland.

Read More
Tomato Congress Logo

June 15, 2016

International Tomato Congress In Mexico Will Focus On G…

The event, which takes place in San Luis Potosi from July 20-22, will feature discussions on production strategies, cost management in protected structures, and optimizing your greenhouse environment.

Read More
Nir Nursery Wax Flower Pot Plant

June 14, 2016

Danziger Reaches Deal To Distribute Nir Nursery Varieti…

With the agreement, Danziger becomes the exclusive distributor of Nir’s product line, which includes cut flowers, foliage, pot, and garden plants.

Read More

June 14, 2016

Dümmen Orange Expands Its Succulent Offerings Through N…

According to Dümmen Operations Director Kate Santos, succulents are an attractive growth category because of their ease of use, shelf life in stores, drought tolerance, and versatility in application.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 14, 2016

New Cool Season, Vegetable, And Foliage Crops For Fall …

Whether you’re providing pansies and violas to the garden center for fall color or decorative edibles to grace patio containers, consider these 16 varieties for fall crop sales, newly introduced for 2016 and hitting retail in 2017.

Read More
Calibrachoa Chameleon Sunshine Berry (Westflowers) - Feature

June 9, 2016

Fall Crop Alternatives That Can Increase Your Sales

There’s a lot of competition for grabbing your share of fall mum sales. Give your program a boost with new varieties that complement traditional fall crops.

Read More

June 7, 2016

It’s Time To Rethink The Value And Timing Of Cali…

Fourteen years ago, Greenhouse Grower saw an opportunity to bring next-day coverage of California Pack Trials (now California Spring Trials or CAST) to your inbox. The objective was to be your eyes and ears on location, to report the debut of the newest varieties and marketing programs, and report major breeder announcements, especially for those not attending. We continued to develop new story-telling tools with video capabilities, slideshows, and more. And once social media took hold, everyone attending CAST became reporters of their favorite varieties and displays at trials. So we’re left with the question — how should we continue to evolve our coverage, to bring the most value for you? It’s easy to fall into a certain pattern, to stick with what works — or seems to work. And just because you’re working really hard at something that you’ve had success with in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s […]

Read More
Carex 'Eversheen' (Hoffman Nursery)

June 7, 2016

Hoffman Nursery Has A New 30-Year Anniversary Look!

The new redesign of the Hoffman Nursery website packs in more content than ever with updated resources and 30 years of experience growing grasses.

Read More
GG June Cover image

June 6, 2016

The State Of Plant Breeding In 2016

Breeding companies look to strengthen their competitive advantage, easing the way for growers to procure new plant varieties and for consumers to grow with confidence.

Read More
Petunia Queen of Hearts

June 1, 2016

Danziger Introducing New Petunia Amore Series, And More…

Danziger “Dan” Flower Farm is planning to introduce 60 new varieties from its 2016-17 collection at the annual event, including petunias, bidens, and calibrachoa.

Read More
Nathan Lamkey Chuck Pavlich Allan Armitage talk about muckgenia

May 31, 2016

Allan Armitage: Three Trends (Good And Bad) That Caught…

We need to put the same energies we invest into California Spring Trials to get plants into consumers’ hands and encourage young people in the industry to attend.

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