A few weeks ago, the entire team from DeRuiter came together in Tabacundo, Ecuador, to evaluate all the different new varieties they are testing. These evaluations are done several times per year, and people from Holland and Colombia travel to Ecuador to participate in these evaluations.
We checked in with Juan Pablo Rengifo from DeRuiter, to get some information about this process, as we were very interested to possibly learn some background stories, as well. Apparently these evaluations take place about 3 or 4 times per year. Juan Pablo shared with us: “When we find positive data or characteristics of a what we call a “code”, we create a complete bed and test it with some growers and in some specific cases we give a small trial of plants to test colors and all the characteristics that our growers are experiencing. Of course with more flowers available, we start to send samples to the USA, Europe, and Russia to have feedback about transportation, color, opening, susceptibilities, and vase life. When all of this feedback comes back positive we start to think about the best available names from a list that we already have and from the recommendations of the growers and buyers. Then we have a small list with options and we start a search in the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) to protect the suggested new variety names in Europe. After that, we initiate the same search in Ecuador, Colombia, and the USA. Only if we can protect that certain trade name in all the previously mentioned places, we start the process of formally registering that variety name to obtain the proper legal rights to that name. After that, we communicate with all of our customers regarding the “birth” of a new variety called ….”
We asked Juan Pablo how many people are involved with the actual evaluations, and he shared with us they combine the technical team (the actual hybridizer from Holland, along with their Ecuadorian/Colombian technical managers), their commercial team (commercial manager and their sales team), and their general managers from both Colombia as well as Ecuador. In other words: a lot goes into organizing these special trials. Aside from the fact that their technical team had to make sure that indeed the new varieties would all be blooming at the exact time all these different people would be traveling to Ecuador!
Can you believe that on average, DeRuiter tests between 3,000 and 4,000 seedlings (codes) per year?! That’s insane!
We asked Juan Pablo if he could share some of the steps that are taken in order to provide the best test results, and here was his answer: “We have steps that refer to the quantity of the plants as “Clone 1” (consisting of 12 plants), “Clone 2” (40 plants), “Clone 3” (100 plants), and “Pre-Commercial” (500 plants). During the stage of “Clone 1” we only test the color, the size of the bloom, the foliage, to get a general idea of how the plant could be during production. Starting with the stage of “Clone 2” we are also testing vase life, transportation, productivity, and all the characteristics of the flower itself.”
The plants that are part of these evaluations are usually consisting of the first flush of that particular variety, which usually means these plants are 5 to 6 months old after the grafting of the code. In some cases, they allow more time for the plants in order to have more data.
So we were very curious about all these new varieties that DeRuiter tested in January, as far as when flower shops could see these new varieties in their stores. This was Juan Pablo’s answer: “Developing a variety normally takes 3 to 5 years, depending on how quickly we want to introduce it. But to have the variety in a flower shop, it will take at least 5 years, because from the farm where we have done all of our due diligence, we still need farms to plant that new variety, start doing the marketing, and have the varieties in production to be available on the market.”
We were excited to learn all the different processes that go into these evaluations, and maybe one day we can be part of this process! DeRuiter works with people at all different levels of the flower industry, including growers, importers, florists, etc. It’s always a big challenge to introduce something that is considered truly as “new”, where the marketing, the flower itself, and the market all come together.
Thank you for your time, Juan Pablo!