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Bilashaka Flowers gets its ‘Next Top Variety’

As last month came to end, rose grower Zuurbier held the ‘Next Top Variety’ competition for its nursery in Kenya (report with pictures). 70 rose buyers from among Dutch exporters came to the event held at the Dutch location of Zuurbier in Kudelstaart. They could choose their favourite rose out of 62 brand new varieties.

The buyers were unanimous in their judgement — the cerise coloured Wink from Terra Nigra was the favourite of all. The group liked its colour, its full bud and its fresh and bright appearance. Zuurbier organised the event to search for the best new varieties to plant. The event gave a good view of the opinion of buyers. “As growers, we look at things like productivity, resistance against diseases, colour and the number of thorns. But we also want to know the opinion of the market”, says Bert Middelkoop from Zuurbier.

Zuurbier asked all rose breeders to hand in five new varieties. 13 breeders did, which resulted in a selection of 62 varieties. All these roses were produced in Kenya; most of them in Naivasha, where the Zuurbier farm Bilashaka is situated.

On a form the buyers could judge different characters of the roses. For the buyers, the event was useful too, as they could get a good overview of the varieties of the near future. Moreover, it was a pleasant break from the daily work. “Coming here is good to get out of our desks and from behind the computer”, says Hugo van de Koppel from Hoven en de Mooij. “These days, nothing gets organised anymore in the Dutch rose sector. Therefore, this initiative is very special”, he adds.

Koppel and other buyers were impressed with the roses they saw, of which the majority were bi-coloured, yellow, white and red. “In these colours, we look for new varieties for Bilashaka”, Middelkoop says. But the number one variety Wink is not the colour Zuurbier looks for. With Taiga, it has already a similar variety in production. “But amongst the numbers two until five, there are very interesting varieties”. These are the yellow Moonwalk from Interplant at place two, the orange Mpesa from Terra Nigra at three, the yellow Penny Lane from Jan Speke Roses at four and the Royal Sphinx from Preesman at place five.

In the top-five, there were no bi-coloured sorts. “This is a clear statement from the buyers. They prefer colours which can be well defined. In this way, they can clearly communicate with their clients in different languages”, says Middelkoop. Before making a final choice, Zuurbier will further

research the varieties, like their availability, price and productivity.


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