Poinsettia Perspectives Abroad

December 10, 2013 - 10:36

It's poinsettia time! And with all the new varieties introduced each year, I know it can be a challenge to figure out which poinsettias to add to (or subtract from) your production. Jim Barrett of the University of Florida has been my go-to poinsettia guy for as long as I can remember, and this past November he traveled to The Netherlands to gain some perspective into how the plants are being grown and how they're performing. I was able to catch up with him and gain some insight into how European operations are doing. Here's what Jim had to say...

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In early November, I toured poinsettia production and variety trials in The Netherlands. I also attended The Flora Holland Trade Fair held at the Aalsmeer auction, which is a mix of breeders, finish growers and suppliers. There was a lot of energy among participants and many were looking forward to expansion of this new show. With the reduction in the amount of product going through the auction building there is ample parking, truck access and show space. Most of their growers specialize in a few products and use very clean, stylish and non-cluttered displays.

All of our poinsettia suppliers in North America are now headquartered in Europe and many of the new introductions originate there before we have them. Generally, the Europeans grow a different style plant. In Germany and Holland the most common plant is in a 12-13 cm (4.5-inch) pot and grown at a spacing of about one per square foot, with a height of about 15 inches as shown by this 'Titan Red'. 

PGR use is also different; we try to avoid reducing bract size, while their growers will often create a poinsettia star effect. This is Saturnus Marble; plant on right is from a breeder trial with less PGR use and the plant on the left is from a grower who applied Cycocel at 100 ppm daily (yes, daily) as the bracts developed. 

These are 'Christmas Feelings Red' ready for local retailers to pick up from a wholesale house based inside the auction.

As an example of our differences — Christmas Feelings is probably the leading variety in Holland but is not a major variety in North America. But then, our major variety, 'Prestige Red', is not important in Europe.

Our North American Poinsettia trials have over 100 varieties with a mix of colors of older and newer varieties. However, the LTO poinsettia trial in Holland has only three varieties from each breeder. We do not score or select “winners” from our trials, but for the LTO trials attendees and breeders score the entrees. Being selected an LTO winner is important in the marketing of new varieties.

Jim Barrett; Rebecca Siemonsma, technical services manager North America; and Martijn Kuiper, sales manager North and South America, evaluate the Beekenkamp new varieties trial.

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Sounds like there are some interesting differences between the U.S. market and the European market! Are there any practices or methods worth crossing over? Tell me about your poinsettia production. Which varieties have been successful (or not so successful) for you? Have you implemented any new procedures to your production? Shoot me an e-mail at jdolce@sgcmail.com. I'd love to hear from you.

— Jasmina

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