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...
University of Tennessee trials overview (2015 University of Tennessee Field Trials)

February 19, 2017

2016 University of Tennessee Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, TN.

Read More
Reiman Gardens field trials

February 18, 2017

2016 Iowa State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames, IA.

Read More
Syngenta Obsession Cascade

February 15, 2017

Syngenta Introduces Two New Flower Series for 2017

‘Sunfinity’ Sunflower produces multiple branches with numerous flowers that bloom all season long, while ‘Obsession Cascade’ Verbena quickly fills containers with vibrant flower patterns.

Read More
Latest Stories
University of Tennessee trials overview (2015 University of Tennessee Field Trials)

February 19, 2017

2016 University of Tennessee Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the University of Tennessee Gardens in Knoxville and Jackson, TN.

Read More
Reiman Gardens field trials

February 18, 2017

2016 Iowa State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University in Ames, IA.

Read More
Syngenta Obsession Cascade

February 15, 2017

Syngenta Introduces Two New Flower Series for 2017

‘Sunfinity’ Sunflower produces multiple branches with numerous flowers that bloom all season long, while ‘Obsession Cascade’ Verbena quickly fills containers with vibrant flower patterns.

Read More
Euphorbia 'Gold Rush'

February 8, 2017

5 Ways to Tie Poinsettias to Lifestyle Trends for Incre…

With poinsettia planning upon us, here are a few ideas to incorporate them into upcoming lifestyle and home décor trends to help increase sales.

Read More
Table setting with begonias for decoration

February 7, 2017

Seasonal Plant Trends for 2017 and Beyond

Aligning your plant sales with popular lifestyle and home décor movements will engage your customers and multiply your profits.

Read More

February 7, 2017

Costa Farms’ Season Premier Presents a First Look at Ne…

The annual event brings breeders, growers, and retailers together to compare new plant varieties and evaluate their performance. Here's a look at some of the new varieties featured in the trial gardens.

Read More
Grateful Heart Rose feature

February 5, 2017

Flower Breeders Making Donations for Heart Disease and …

Companies such as Jackson & Perkins and Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs are donating portions of their sales to groups such as the American Heart Association and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

February 1, 2017

Allan Armitage California Spring Trials Scholarship Win…

Beasley, a junior at Oregon State University’s Ecampus who also manages a local community college greenhouse, will join Armitage and a team of Greenhouse Grower editors in attending and reporting on the 2017 California Spring Trials.

Read More
IPM Essen Plant Innovations Winners

January 31, 2017

Top New Plants Recognized at IPM Essen in Germany

Winners were announced in several categories in the Innovations Showcase, from flowering houseplants to cut flowers.

Read More
Allan Armitage San Marzano tomato plant feature

January 25, 2017

Allan Armitage Describes Veggies, Shade Plants, and Cli…

Here's a look at plants that could help you with successful growing in 2017.

Read More
Hibiscus Hollywood Gossip Queen

January 24, 2017

29 New Flowering and Foliage Plants from TPIE 2017

The Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was the place to be Jan. 18-20 to catch a peek at some of the new plant introductions making their first appearance on the market.

Read More
Quick Plug

January 24, 2017

Dümmen Orange Acquires Quick Plug, a Cutting Compost Su…

Quick Plug technology is designed to open up opportunities for automation and robotization of several product groups and add quality to rooted products.

Read More
EPCOT Suntory Princettia Euphorbia

January 23, 2017

Princettia Euphorbias Charm Vacationers at Disney Resor…

Suntory’s Princettia euphorbias have brought a new color palette to the holiday landscapes at Walt Disney World’s resorts and theme parks in central Florida.

Read More
Youngs Plant Farm Trial Garden feature

January 21, 2017

Don’t Miss the Southern Garden Tour This June

Growers, retailers, and all industry professionals are invited to the 2017 Southern Garden Tour, which is hosted by Young’s Plant Farms, Sakata, and Metrolina Greenhouses, and will be held June 6-8.

Read More
Gaillardia 'Mesa Red'

January 21, 2017

2016 Pike Creek Horticulture Center Field Trials Result…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for The Pike Creek Horticulture Center in Kenosha, WI.

Read More
Anna Chernyavsky

January 20, 2017

New Director of Sales for Bedding Plants and Perennials…

Anna Chernyavsky, who joined Danziger in August 2016, will be in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

Read More
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer BloomStruck’ (Bailey Nurseries)

January 19, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Hosting Spring Previews in February

The previews, which provide education, new variety information, and retail support programs, will take place in Illinois, Minnesota, and Boston.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

January 18, 2017

2016 C. Raker & Sons Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI.

Read More