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Pioneering the Future

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Haifa Blog

10Jul2018
Dutch nurseries supported by professional advice

Two large Dutch nurseries benefit from Haifa’s Multicote™ added value and thoughtful application supported by professional advice. 

The Florizon Plants nursery in Mijdrecht and Hebe Center in Hazerswoude-Dorp both use Haifa products.  ‘When presented next to other growers' plants, our plants are are superior, thanks to the Haifa products’, says Tim Fransen of Florizon Plants.

By: Sylvia de Witt original article in Dutch

When the nursery at the Oosterlandweg 31C in Mijdrecht was for sale at the end of 2014, Bram and Tim Fransen didn’t hesitate for a moment. They consulted with their father, decided to buy the company and Florizon Plants was founded. The two brothers divided tasks equally. Bram Fransen, who won the title of Young Tree Nursery Talent at last year's Plantarium fair, is responsible for marketing and communication. His brother Tim is in charge of the technical side.

Florizon Plants grows over 200 perennial species on 2,5 hectares, in the 17', 19' and 23' pots. With some 3 hectares which are unused yet, they will expand outside in the near future.

Bram en Tim Fransen van Florizon PlantsIn the beginning, the nursery produced also 13' pots, but it came out that the difference between 13' and 23' are be too big. In addition, 13' pots with tuff very sensitive to humidity, according to Tim Fransen. ‘Last year, we already reduced using of this pot size, and this year we don't have them anymore. We found that they don't suit our system in terms of potting soil, fertilization and other inputs’.

Besides the perennial plants, Florizon Plants specializes in growing astilbe. ‘We count on the astilbe plants and on 2-liter products. The other products are pushed by the success of these. Everybody knows that we’ll always have some astilbe in 5-liter’.

The majority of the products are exported to Germany, and to other countries in Europe. According to Bram Fransen, the market in the Netherlands is small. ‘We have occasional deliveries to large Dutch retailers and we supply some garden center chains, but the main marketing activity is in Germany.’

 

No chloride, no sodium: near-zero salts loading

Since 2016, Florizon Plants employs Haifa’s fertilizers. The fertilizers are applied in accordance with water analyses carried out Telermaat. The analyses are sent to Haifa, where specialists like Dorien Geentjes and Lowie Weerts use them to recommend upon fertilization plans. Haifa North West Europe is a subsidiary of Haifa Group, an Israeli based multinational corporate, the manufacturer and worldwide supplier of Multi-K™ potassium nitrate and other specialty fertilizers for horticulture. Haifa's products are known for high nutritional value and purity. With near-zero content of sodium and chloride, Haifa's fertilizers are absorbed completely, ensuring that the plant's nutrition results in the highest yield.

Since 2017, the nursery uses Soluplant™ Vita and Haifa ProteK™ phosphate fertilizer. A high-K formula of Multicote™ controlled release fertilizer is used for the potting soil, yielding strog plants with regulated growth. In the last year Haifa Cal™ Prime calcium nitrate fertilizer was added to the nutritional program.

Producing better plants

‘Multicote™ controlled release fertilizers covers the essential nutritional needs of plants, ensuring that neither shortage nor excess of nutrients will interfere  with growth’, says Dorien Geentjens, Haifa’s sales representative and product manager. ‘With Soluplant™ Vita, that contains phosphates that remains available over time, we support root development. Haifa Cal™ Prime Cal, that have been introduced recently, further focus on the plant’s compactness.’ Haifa Cal™ prime belongs to the new generation of highly concentrated, water soluble calcium fertilizers, specially designed for extra fertilization. It contains less ammonia and much more calcium, thus more efficient, and suitable for soilless media.

Beautiful lush leaves

Florizon Plants nursery performs analyses of water and substrate, and based on the results, Dorien Geertjes makes a fertilization plan. ‘Of course we always consult and communicate regarding the optimal way to meet crops' needs and growers' convenience’ she says. ‘The customer needs to achieve best growth, so he can market plants of the highest quality. We collaborate with him to achieve the challenge.’ Bram and Tim Fransen are satisfied with the Haifa products. Tim: ‘While selling Phlox paniculata last year, we were the only nursery who could stack six layers on a cart, thanks to our plants' compactness. Our competitors could only stack five layers. We were sold out in two days, and when you saw our plants compared to others on the exhibitions, they looked really good. Compactness is an important parameter, especially for astilbe. Our plants are not only compact, but also have has beautiful dark foliage.

Hebe growing is a challenge

Hebe Center in Hazerswoude-Dorp also uses Haifa products. Han van Niekerk, who has already retired, established this nursery in 2004, together with René van Lint. This was after a 35-years career as a tree-expert. The small nursery, located at the Middelburgseweg in Waddinxveen, developed to become a larger company. In the beginning, they grow a variety of plants, from climbers to conifers. Eventually, they specialized in Hebe. In the last seven years the nursery is managed by Charles Stoopman. In the first years he took advantage of Han's experience, as he used to grow different plant species, while the Hebe imposes particular difficulties. 'You have to be alert all the time. Hebe is sensitive to many diseases and become more vulnerable if it grows too quickly. Many problems are associated with humidity, downy mildew for example'. ‘We chose to focus on hebe because anyone can grow "simple" plants’, says Han. ‘This species posed a challenge to me. Hebe is definitely not an easy product to grow and we also have some protected varieties. This gives us an advantage over our competitors’.

Eighty percent of the plants are exported to the UK, and the rest are sold in the Netherlands and Germany. In the nursery in Hazerswoude-Dorp plants are grown mainly in 2-liter pots and also in 13-cm pots. In Zevenhuizen cuttings are grown in 4-liter pots which are distributed mainly in DIY markets and garden centers. In the summer, the smaller pots are grown for a large German discounter. Most of the cutting is carried out by a specializing company, but we also cut part of the plants here by ourselves.’

‘In the autumn we usually grow the traditional green varieties’, the manager says, ‘and in the spring we produce our own special varieties, those with the red leaves. Cutting of the red-foliage varieties are grown in 10-cm pots, in Waddinxveen. The cuttings are potted in the autumn, and ready for sail in the spring.’

Charles Stoopman, bedrijfsleider bij Hebe Center.Haifa's sales rep offers added value

Some four years ago, Charles Stoopman started working with Haifa fertilizers, with the support of Lowie Weerts, a sales rep. First, Poly-Feed™ soluble NPK fertilizers were applied to skimmia plants. As root establishment is a particular challenge with this species, he works with Poly-Feed™ and Soluplant™ Vita, both based on polyphosphates. ‘We previously worked with water-soluble fertilizers from another supplier. That was ok, but I wanted to try something else. Gradually we added more and more products: Haifa Cal™ Prime, Haifa-ProteK™ and Multicote™. Lowie Weerts offered added value by being involved in our thinking process. At first, we used a different controlled released fertilizer (CRF) in the potting soil, and Lowie offered us to try Haifa's CRF beside this competitor product. Then, as all the souble fertilizers that we apply are Haifa's, we shifted to using Multicote™ as the only CRF in the nursery.’

Charles Stoopman can't say for sure whether he noticed a significant difference between CRFs. ‘There is always a difference; every year is different. You cannot compare between two fields in the exact same period.’ Haifa’s products are fine and reliable, but at any step manager discussed option both with Lowie from Haifa and equally with Wilco Dorrestein from Delphy. ‘I will take a decision only after that. I will never switch from one product to another without consultation.’

Strong cell walls

Plant's strength is an important issue. Stoopman thinks that the plant doesn’t need to grow too fast, and keeping it compact is sometimes advisalbe. ‘We want plants with strong cell walls. To achieve this, we use Haifa Cal™. The added calcium reinforces the cell walls, so pathogens are less likely to penetrate through. We sometimes have to deal with diseases, especially with downy mildew.’ It’s hard to say whether the occurrence of diseases has in the four years they’ve been using Haifa products, according to Van Niekerk. ‘We grow a mix of several species, so it’s complicated to keep records of multiple parameetrs. I can tell that in the nurseries in Middelburgseweg and in Waddinxveen, where we use Haifa products, we have a tight control over diseases. We also started applying potassium phosphite by foliar sprays, to strengthen the plants.

In the past, we used plenty of chemicals, and yet it was not always helpful. The practice we adopted gives us strong plants while growing "clean".'   

Not too fast

It seems that eventually they will use much less pesticides, or even none at all.

Charles Stoopman: ‘Plants in their natural environment always grow with no disease control. In the nursery, we attempt to have perfect plants within a short time. This is not a natural course of growth. We are in a search for the optimal way to do it: with all the right nutrients, allowing for moderate growth, and using pesticides only when it’s really necessary.’ He doesn’t know if he’ll introduce additional products from Haifa. ‘Every year we take step forward. But I don’t want to go too fast; otherwise you won’t see the differences in what you’re doing. We use four Haifa products now. Poly-Feed™ and SoluPlant™ that contain 45% sodium less that the fertilizers we used before, were introduced only last year. I haven't noticed differences yet, but this may be attributed to the wet summer we had. We have never had root problems with our Hebe. Last year, the plants were looked good, and didn’t grow too fast.’

New developments

Dorien GeentjensMany developments are introduced in the field of fertilizers, one of them has to do with potassium nitrate. Greenhouses use large quantities of this fertilizer. Required to recirculate the effluents completely, sodium, which is not absorbed by the plants, accumulates in the return water. Many research works have investigated to acceptable levels of sodium to maintain proper growth. Dorien Geertjens: ‘If there is near-zero sodium in the fertilizer, there is no accumulation in the recirculated water, and there is no need to invest efforts to remove it. This is exactly the unique benefit of Multi-K™ Reci: potassium nitrate with near-zero sodium.

Haifa Cal™ Prime is another ultra-clean fertilizer. It contains less ammonium than any other calcium nitrate formula, to achieve less cell stretching. For robust growth, we need to move calcium in the plant, from the bottom to the top. The mobility of calcium in the plant is poor. A growing plant needs sufficient calcium in order to get it in the growth points; otherwise it will stuck inside the plant.’

And last, Haifa ProteK™, that provides phosphorus as a combination of phosphate and phosphite. ‘The absorption of phoshite by plants is enormously efficient and fast. Haifa Protek™ can be applied through the irrigation system, and also by foliar sprays’, Dorien Geertjens summarizes.

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