Bulb Growers Out Of Business

joshy46013December 17, 2010

Hi Guys,

I've been talking to a few retailers lately about how many of the bulb growers have filed bankruptcy, what does this mean for the future of "Amaryllis"? None of the others I have had discussions with seem to have any answers as to what will happen in the "Amaryllis" world. Will the growers and breeders continue with their operations? Will they sell their farms? Will someone else takeover growing or will concrete be poured?

This is a major concern in my opinon as breeding is taking a new direction, will others continue to persue the Trumpet and Cybister catagories or is the fate of "Amaryllis" at the hands of flat, large singles?

Does anyone have an insight as to what's going on?

Josh

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ryan820(z5b Denver, Colorado, USA)

I have no clue but ask, what are their business models? Where do they grow? Where do they ship etc. Did you get any of that info from your discussions? I'd be interested in knowing.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 8:18PM
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blancawing

Hi Josh,

I do not have any conclusive insights into what may be happening. However, I do know that growers:

1. Are motivated to produce what will sell. The large flowered traditional varieties appear to be most popular in the global marketplace.

2. Do not want to replace or deal with complaints about bulbs that do not bloom reliably (e.g., are shy bloomers or go dormant for long periods of time).

3. Do not want to replace or deal with complaints about bulbs that are highly susceptible to disease and/or rot. Bulbs with weak constitutions or that require extra care are soon dropped from production.

4. Do not want to replace or deal with complaints about bulbs that do not tolerate sufficient time in transit to be shipped without problems.

For now, we can still count on Ludwig for innovation. IMHO, they have bred some of the most beautiful Cybisters and Trumpets.

In addition, they have some stunning unnamed and unreleased hybrids to which we can look forward.

Long-term, the task of preserving and improving these beauties may fall on each of us by continuing our breeding programs; even if they are small-scale and intended solely for pleasure and not monetary gain.

Best, Blanca

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 8:52PM
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kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)

When I was in The Netherlands in March 2010 I was told that one of the big growers had a fire and they lost a lot of their records. They were responsible for a many of the mislabels in the past 2 years and I wouldn't be surprised if they went under.
Kristi

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 9:26PM
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bluebonsai101(6a PA)

I would guess that 95%+ of their sales are to big box stores or your local nursery which means that they are being purchased for the foyer or dinner table and then tossed. Of course that means they want to sell standard stuff with big flowers that are easy to grow as noted above. I can not blame them for that as they are in business to make money after all. If they could sell the more unusual ones for $20-30 in reasonable numbers (I would guess that means tens of thousands) instead of $10-13 then maybe they would supply more of those, but the average person is not going to pay that and in fact very few collectors are going to pay that so why should they bother? Good ol' supply/demand rules needless to say. I can say that I posted a few times in the past 3-4 years when I was able to supply lots of Worsleya seed that my goal was to make these common enough that even grandma could buy one for $40 at the local nursery....I got a lot of nasty grams from people telling me I was a fool for wanting to make them less rare.....the money grubbers spoke loud and clear....the way of the world :o) Dan

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 12:04PM
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joshy46013

Hi Guys,

From what I've been told Ludwig and several other companies have filed Bankruptcy, I think what I wrote wasn't clear, I was wondering if anyone had any idea if Ludwig and other companies were closing shop or were going to continue? This is why I was wondering if the Cybister and Trumpet varieties were going to be a thing of the past as Ludwig is the primary growers for these types.

Several of the retailers I've spoken to are very uncertain whether they will have any Ludwig varieties next season and one stated that this is why "Pink Floyd", "Amputo", "Grandeur", "Ruby Meyer", "Santos" and many others weren't available this season. A few are wondering if the farms will be sold to others or if they'll continue to grow and supply these bulbs?

Thanks everyone for the wonderful responses, they were very informational :)

Josh

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 9:44PM
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blancawing

Gosh Josh - I had not heard anything about Ludwig filing for bankruptcy.
I hope that they will find a way to restructure their business and continue.
Now, I am left wondering what will happen to their unnamed/unreleased varieties.
Perhaps, someone with the requisite land and talent will purchase licensing rights to these beauties.

And Dan, your motivation to make Worsleyas available to all for reasonable prices was noble and praiseworthy!
Sorry that you received negative reactions.

Regards, Blanca

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 10:34PM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

This is disheartening to read, I hope someone is able to secure licensing or what ever it takes to keep these lines going! It just figures, now that we've moved and I'm working on getting my greenhouse into the "its a possibliliy" state I won't be able to restock what I've lost due to past NBF issues. :( ...
Dan, anytime you find yourself with extra worsleya seeds again let me know. I'm willing to put up a light shelf to get some seeds going! I'm sure those who want to keep it rare have a financial stake in there, sad, very sad.

Chaz

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 1:11AM
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mariava7

The Ludwig exotic varieties are safe. The "lot of bulbs" not "farms" have been sold to another grower in Netherlands since last year. Hippeastrum bulbs are grown in greenhouses in Netherlands. Unlike other bulbs like tulips which are grown in vast open lands.

Perhaps bulb growers in other countries that grow their Hippies in farms are the ones filing bankruptcy. Why? Well...that's possibly another story.

The incidence of tons of mislabeled bulbs last season was because of this "sale". There were a lot of bulbs that were gotten to be mixed or unproperly named in the transfer.
Because of this, the new grower needs some time to figure out which bulbs are which. And the only way to do this was to let them bloom. After this is done, then they can proceed with propagation. They will become available again in time.

I have not heard of Ludwig filing bankruptcy. It seemed more of "retiring".

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 3:27AM
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blancawing

Oh thank you, Maria!

I am relieved to know that the Ludwig exotics are safe.

Hugs, Blanca

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 4:49AM
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mikep_cfl(z9b FL)

Business entities are going to come and go; the loss of a good hybridizer (artist) is a loss to civilization (a least to some of us). That said, what fascinates me more are the economic issues that encourage/discourage new firms from entering the market.

I have a limited knowledge of patents, trademarks and Breeder's Rights, but it seems to me the really well-known hippy hybridizers and/or licensed growers have a lock on the market.

It's not like an entiy can just decide to start cultivating hipps and not pay any attention to the law. An e-Bay seller can probably get away with it on a limited scale; so the hybridizer sends a nasty note and makes the claim the seller isn't a licensed seller? Very little chance of getting sued; just pull the product.

But I wouldn't want to receive the same notice if I had a couple of acres or so of legally proteced South African hippeastrum bulbs I planned to wholesle or retail under the legally protected name.

Several of the top Daylily hybridizers in the world live within 50 miles of me. I can buy their introductions (12-15 yearly for $1500), cultivate them and usually sell them using the hybridizer-given name all day long with no fear of a lawsuit. And that is exactly what many of the Daylily "farms" do. And the market for Daylilies is huge. And the "farms" get $50+ for 2 fans of a recently introduced Daylily, even though there are literally tens of thousands of quality registered Daylilies already available at much lower prices.

Can't do that with hipps, as far as I know. Maybe hipps (the plants themselves) just don't have the same potential. Or maybe the world would see their true potential if the legal barriers were removed.

Just my 2 cents.
Cheers
Mike

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 1:19PM
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joshy46013

Maria,

Thank you for the comments, lets hope that you're correct as I'd hate to lose some of the beautiful varieties that are yet available such as the heavily scented "Monte Video" and "Santiago" that have been cultivated by Ludwig Inc.

Mike,

I think Hippeastrum have much more potential than people think but the waters are so muddy in the genetic pool from the years of breeding that many flowers seem to have lost character.

Another problem in my opinion is that Hippeastrum are tender plants so there isn't much use for them in the Northern states for anything other than traditional Christmas gifts. The growers are only interested in investing in the "Christmas Amaryllis" so that leaves the "Gardners Amaryllis" as cast-offs or useless culled seedlings for gardeners to utilize. If Hippeastrum were marketed in the Spring like they are in the Fall I think a difference would be noticed.

Dr. Alan Meerow is currently working to create more variety in the "Gardners Amaryllis", most focus on Hippeastrum is on pot or cut flower culture, hopefully developments are further than we think ;)

Josh

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 2:34PM
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radarcontactlost(8)

Mike,

I have to disagree with you on a few things. I have a little training in the nursery business. As long as a plant is not patented it is free to propagate until your hearts content. Most of the daylilys you mention are not patented, in fact only about 50 or so are, that leaves only about 59,950 that are free to propagate without regard to who made the original hybrid. The same thing should be true with Hippeastrum. Just because it is a registered hybrid does not mean it is patented. If its not patented, then go right ahead. A quick patent search or simply asking the original supplier should do the trick to finding out if something is free to propagate. Hippies are almost as easy to multiply as daylilys if you chip. But as far as legal barriers, I see none. In fact I have yet to see a patented hippeastrum, which is probably the same reason you see few daylily patents, they are easy to hybridize. Why patent something that grandma in her backyard can make. Now im not saying there isnt a science to hybridizing, there definitely is. I was going to start my own nursery until I found out I would be moving soon. All of the plant that I selected to start with were patent free, from roses to daylilys to crape myrtles. That way I could multiply my own stock without having to pay royalties. Hope this clears things up. Just because a hybridizer claims credit for the original doesnt mean that you or I or anyone cant make clones of it and sell it with the correct name. That is of course considering if it is A. not patented and B. your have your nursery license. So if a company goes under you should have no worry about losing a source for your favorite hippeastrums, someone else, or you can pick up the torch. Ok, I think im done.

Jason

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 9:40PM
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radarcontactlost(8)

I did a quick search of patents and did find a few hippis that are patented, this should be the entire list of ones that are not free to propagate until the patent expires. Plant patents expire 20 years from the filing date by the way. There are five, three by Alan Meerow and two by Andre Barnhoorn.

Meerow

Rio PP12,633
Sampa PP12,562
Bahia PP 12,469

Barnhoorn

Double Six PP10,374
Rozetta PP10,373

So other than those its pretty safe to say that the rest are fair game.

Have fun!

Jason

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 9:52PM
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mikep_cfl(z9b FL)

Jason -

Thanks for the info. But the way I understand it there are two issues, patents and trademarks. Although a plant might not be patented, the name it is sold under might be protected by trademark. So sure, if Apple Blossom is not patented or if the patent has expired you can propogate it but what do you call it if the name is protected by trademark (unexpired)?

It seems to me trademark protection would also prohibit someone fom stating their new hybrid is a cross between plant A and plant B if either A or B is protected by trademark. And then there is the issue of Breeder's Rights which is another can of worms.

But the more important question is (since you sound very knowledgable) why don't we have a slew of hippy hybridizers and growers in the USA? Is it as Josh indicated; no market for the bulb as a garden plant up north? Or is it climate, labor costs, some other reason or could it be the structure of the hippy market as I suggested?

I've only been growing hipps a few years but I've spent a fair amount of time in this forum and I have yet to hear of an American hybridizer offering their introductions for sale. Is there a hippeastrum farm in the United States anything remotely similar to Maguire's farm in Australia?

Mike

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 9:49PM
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radarcontactlost(8)

Mike,

I found a great article that pretty much answers all of your questions for you. So instead of me just repeating it I will let you read it. As far as why there isnt a bunch of large scale hybridizers in the US I could only speculate but have no particular reason. Maybe it isnt a viable market to get into with such large competition overseas already operating on a small margin. Maybe its because, as with many domestic products, our political climate is not friendly to the small business and therefore makes it impossible to get going. I also speculate that we may not see a large amount of american hybridizers because for the most part people by "junk" plants. Im talking about the average homeowner that shops at home depot on saturdays. This consumer, which most in this country are, thinks there are only two types of hostas, green and variegated. They think that daylilys are either yellow or orange. For all they know, hippis only come in red and would never bother to search out more than what they can get at the checkout line, not to mention pay 15 dollars a bulb! True gardeners and collectors as we are understand there is an infinite amount of genetics from which an infinite amount of hybrids can be created. It is our job to educate those who dont know the beauty of a plant they havent seen at Lowes or Home Depot. We must go boldly and teach others there is more than flats of petunias in the spring and 4inch mums in the fall! There is a world of color, a world of form and a world of variety for the hungry eye to behold, and it is our duty to share this with the rest of our planet! Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been my pleasure. Goodnight and Farewell. HA im crazy, but seriously I meant what I said. Heres that link by the way, enjoy! Adios!

Jason

Here is a link that might be useful: All about patents and tradmarks

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 2:05AM
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joshy46013

I wish more companies patented their varieties as they post the parentage of their plants in the patent which is exactly what would be needed to understand Hippeastrum breeding traits!

Rozetta (Hadeco)
Male or pollen parent.--Hippeastrum hybrida cultivar `Double Beauty` (not patented).

Female or seed parent.--Hippeastrum hybrida cultivar `Safari` (not patented).

Double Six (Hadeco)
Male or pollen parent.--Hippeastrum hybrida proprietary seedling number 25.

Female or seed parent.--Hippeastrum hybrida cultivar `Orange Sovereign` (not patented).

As for "Rio", "Sampa" and "Bahia" they're combination of species and big dutch hybrids!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 10:19AM
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