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Propagation & Breeding

vermehrung_und_zuechtung1Die The propagation of tulips over the decades…
Most flower bulbs are propagated using lateral or offset bulbs. In the case of tulips, to put it simply, we plant small bulbs (so-called propagating material) in the field during the autumn and harvest strong bulbs for the production of cut flowers and for sales in the early summer. In doing so, small bulbs – i.e. propagating material – are always provided for propagation the following year.
The planting of the propagating material takes place from the beginning to the middle of October. Prior to this, soil samples are taken and examined for their nutrient content. Fertiliser is applied where necessary. The fields are ploughed directly before planting. In our company, we cultivate the tulips in mounds. A freshly planted field looks similar to a potato field. For reasons of erosion prevention and soil protection, the ground is usually seeded with grass. The first shoots can usually be seen at the beginning of February.
The earliest tulips blossom at the beginning of April. This is when our most work-intensive period begins, which, depending on the weather, can be absolutely beautiful. First, the tulips are selected by specially trained personnel. This means that plants which vary in shape or colour are removed so that they can no longer propagate and to ensure varietal purity.
vermehrung_und_zuechtung4Following this, the heads of the tulips are cut off. This is conducted with the “header”, a type of lawn mower that is driven over the plants in order to cut off the flowers. Flowers that are not cut off by the header must be subsequently cut off by hand.
vermehrung_und_zuechtung5We cut off the flowers so that the plants do not unnecessarily invest their strength in the formation of seeds and can use all of their energy for the formation of strong bulbs. The leaves and the lower part of the flower stem are left intact so that the plant can obtain enough energy for the formation of strong bulbs via photosynthesis. Of course, this means that we are only able to enjoy the beautiful sight of blossoming tulip fields for a very short time.
vermehrung_und_zuechtung6During periods of dryness, the fields are irrigated as required. During the culturing period, the nutrient content is inspected at regular intervals in order to specifically provide the tulips with all of the required nutrients. Uninterrupted monitoring of the nutrient content available in our soil is just one of the many measures we employ in order to use our soil in harmony with nature and to achieve the best possible growth results. The harvesting period begins during the second week of June.
vermehrung_und_zuechtung7In order to be able to harvest the tulips at just the right degree of maturity, we work with a powerful tulip harvester that pulls the bulbs out of the ground like a potato digger and transports them to the trailer travelling alongside. This brings the harvested bulbs to our nearby facilities. In contrast to potatoes, flower bulbs must be handled very carefully; we use the soil in this phase to protect them during transportation.
vermehrung_und_zuechtung8The bulbs are separated from the soil prior to the washing process; most of the soil is retained by the trailers and transported back to the field. After the bulbs have been washed, they are carefully dried in large boxes.
vermehrung_und_zuechtung9The dried bulbs are sorted by size in a sorting machine and then peeled by hand. Finally, they are stored in climate chambers at different storage temperatures based on their intended use – separated between bulbs and tubers.