Innovation lies at the very heart of our business. As well as continuously developing new, improved varieties of both Freesia and Hippeastrum, specific attention has always been given to pursuing and, wherever possible, testing new developments across a range of criterion.
Innovations in Freesia Breeding
Earliest steps in Freesia breeding were carried out during the 1960s when the company embarked upon our own hybridisation and selection program in cooperation with the former research Institute for Breeding of Horticultural Crops at Wageningen. This initial work led to a series of new Freesia varieties which were commercialised in the mid-1970s. Over the years, the breeding program has been professionalised and undergone major expansion. The combination of many years of breeding experience plus detailed knowledge and understanding of the crop, coupled with our extensive testing programs and data processing practises, has ensured that improvements to, and innovation in our freesia assortment continue to be made to the present day.
A new crossing program begins each year with new seedlings flowering for the first time the following spring. Seedlings that show particular promise then undergo further cultivation and annual testing across a wide range of cultural criterion and user properties. It takes, on average, 8 years after the initial flowering before a new variety has undergone the full procedure of testing and sufficient plant material is available for commercial introduction.
Innovations in Hippeastrum Breeding
Since 1987, the company has always focussed upon developing new assortments for both Hippeastrum cut flower and pot plant culture with added value for growers, exporters and consumers. Following the commercial introduction of the first new varieties in mid 1990s, considerable progress and tremendous expansion has taken place with around three new varieties being added to the assortment each year.
A new crossing program is initiated each year with seedlings flowering within 2 years. The first selection then takes place, followed by a three year test cycle which begins with lifting the selected bulbs. They are then propagated by twin scaling followed by two, 9 month periods of bulb growth culminating with flowering of the clones. Data is collected on each clone throughout this period across a range of cultural aspects leading to a very small percentage of the original number of clones being selected for further propagation and a second three year test cycle. It takes around 8-10 years for each new variety to complete the development, testing and propagation phases.
Innovations in General Horticulture
Our company has always been keen to test the latest horticultural innovations. During the 1980s when there was a concerted drive towards energy efficiency, one of the earliest total energy plants was sited on our premises. We also experimented with wind energy. In the late ‘80s, the first trials in assimilation lighting were conducted in the cultivation of Freesia. More recently, various cultivation trials have been carried out involving LED and plasma lighting trials in collaboration with WageningenUniversity.