I am always grateful when the lily crop has succeeded again
"I am always grateful when the lily crop has succeeded again"
Lilies. I have always had an eye for them. As a little boy, I would come to the growers' fields and walk among the flowers in the greenhouse. Always in the greenery. Growing is really my passion. As I get older, I realize more and more what a beautiful profession I am in. You are working with a living product, working with nature. It blooms and grows and you can steer it. That is very challenging, because a natural product does not always allow itself to be guided. I am always grateful when the cultivation is successful.
"Why Bredefleur doesn't just want to produce cheap bulbs"
My father taught us that you always have a choice. He didn't force us to go into horticulture. Still, my brothers and I chose it. It is special and exciting to work together; after all, you didn't choose your brothers. But we keep each other on our toes. Very different from my father before; he had a one-man management. If one of my brothers innovates, it also stimulates me. Sparring together and thinking together: that's how synergy is created. You also want that feeling of cooperation with the people in the greenhouse, with the management and with our suppliers.
Deepening partnership with growers
There are still many steps to take. For example, look at the cooperation with our bulb growers and breeders. For years we have been buying products from them and making commercial arrangements. They grow the bulb and we hatch the bulb; a branch out with a nice bud. Often they deliver six months later. But instead of saying 'Good luck with it, talk to you in six months' we now say 'Hold on, what are you running into? These are our problems. How can we solve this together?' That's the way you're going to be on the road with each other. My aim is to deepen this partnership, together with a select group of bulb growers. With the common goal: to increase quality at an economically feasible level.
Our greenhouses are a source of data
What we have to offer. Our greenhouses are a source of data. Through automation of data collection, we track quality in the greenhouse; stem firmness, leaf color and flower buds. This is my priority and it drives innovation. We want to share this data with our suppliers. How does a bulb perform best? Varieties that give too many buds on Limburg rich organic soil have better results on sandy soil in North Holland. We find this out in our greenhouses and we exchange this information. That is enormously interesting for a grower.
Improve plant health
We also strive to improve the health of our plants and grow lilies that are less susceptible to fungi, bacteria and insects. We are working on plant enhancers, for example, which give our plants firmer leaves. We also work with Silicon; a mineral fertilizer that improves a plant's cell structure, reducing the development of fungi.
Haphazard production, that's gone from it
This way of innovating gives our company the right to exist. We want to be ahead in the industry. Of course, everyone is innovating and wants to take production per square meter to a higher level. More pieces for the same quality. But yes, indiscriminate production has gone. Our generation is wondering if that is still necessary. So not just producing cheap balls, but taking risks and daring to make choices.
You need each other
Everything starts with the sphere; that's where half of our success comes from, and it's enormously motivating to have an impact on that. The other fifty percent of our success comes from good cooperation. With my brothers, with our employees and certainly with our suppliers. In the end it's all about the whole and you need each other for that!
Thomas Evers (29), having graduated from Horti Business and Management, is co-owner of Bredefleur.