The shipping container that has been converted into a climate chamber at Royal van Zanten has become the hub of innovation in freesia breeding. This closed growing chamber cuts the cultivation time by half, makes most crop protection agents superfluous and can run energy-neutral through self-generated electricity.
Together with Royal van Zanten, a group of cultivation companies has been working on the development of freesia cultivation in closed systems for the past five years. Royal van Zanten supplies the most suitable varieties. This involvement has been intensified by the company now installing its own growing chamber. The breeding company focuses on new freesia varieties, especially for closed cultivation.
Belleville, a double-petal white variety by Royal van Zanten, is in full production. In 2022 four new varieties will be introduced in the single-petal segment in white, blue, pink and yellow. And there is a lot more floral beauty in the pipeline, says breeder Wil van Aert, who passionately took over from his inspirator and former colleague Wim Haytink.
“At Royal Van Zanten there was always room for our passion. That is why we are frontrunners in freesias today,” says Wil. “It’s a challenging crop because of the great dependence on diminishing specialist labour. That challenge gives direction to innovation in our varieties. As a breeder we are really in the vanguard, nobody is as innovative in this crop as we are.”
New freesia with leaf less dependent on specialist labour
In the closed system, not only the stem and flower but the entire plant is harvested, leaf and all. The new freesia variety with leaf is less vulnerable, which makes automation in all cultivation phases possible. These developments create new demands on varieties and offer opportunities for breeders.
“These developments also mean that growers are paying more attention to other aspects, such as the ornamental value of the flower. We are looking at the crop in a completely different way; starting again from scratch from a technical point of view,” Wil van Aert explains.
Continuity, speed and plannability
The closed system in which these Freesias are grown has a continuous climate. Sophisticated lighting and cultivation formulas ensure a faster, plannable crop all year round. This is possible at any location, at any time, all year round, whereas in the past, freesia cultivation in the Netherlands was only possible in the spring months. The lead time from planting the bulb to harvesting the flower is also greatly reduced. This saves time for the growers and, in terms of breeding, ensures that new varieties can reach the market sooner.
The closed system runs on electricity, which we are increasingly able to generate ourselves. In addition, no crop protection is needed in closed cultivation. The growers involved won the Greenovation Award in 2020 for their economical use of energy, chemicals and water.
For more information:
Royal Van Zanten
1435 EW Rijsenhout
T: +31 (0)297 38 70 0