Wim Declercq, Head breeder Gediflora

The man of 400 varieties

Wim Declercq, head breeder at Gediflora, talks about chrysanthemums with love and passion. ‘His’ chrysanthemums, because Wim has been breeding the plants in Oostnieuwkerke since 1988. Together with the company, he specialised and went from grower to head breeder.

“My title is on a business card, but – needless to say – the work is done by an entire team. I spend little time in the field. My core activity nowadays consists of writing cross-breeding programmes and conceptualising the breeding process. The only exception is the trial field, where I keep track of every single pot. We plant the cuttings, and select the best plants. They are planted again the following year, tested and selected or rejected for a new trial year. Only plants that have performed well over several test years are added to the range and brought on the market as a new variety.”

Wim works in and for the future. “My work is special because I am now finalising the commercial range of 2019. Breeding and creating new varieties simply takes time. Every flowering cycle inevitably takes a year. Chrysanthemums flower in autumn, and therefore are a seasonal product. We test all breeds outdoors, so we only have one opportunity every year. Crossing and pollinating, harvesting and sowing the seeds and confirming, it takes at least three years to complete a breed. Moreover, Gediflora sets up an additional trial to be 100% sure that the commercial range is of excellent quality. We deliberately take the time to perfect our varieties and to be completely sure.”

Wim Declercq has developed 400 varieties for Gediflora since 1988. The goal is constant improvement. “Just like sports records are meant to be broken, there is always room for improvement in chrysanthemums. This is becoming increasingly more difficult because we have made enormous progress. Nonetheless, continuous improvement is still our goal,” he says with a smile. In his opinion, breeding is very simple. “And it is, in fact,” Wim says, laughing. The chrysanthemum is a vegetatively propagated crop, which means that you use cuttings or rhizomes for reproduction. Seeds are only used in the initial phase, when we create a new plant. We try to propagate a superior plant using a good father plant and a good mother plant. At the beginning this means applying pollen on the pistil with a little brush. The seeds are harvested and planted anew, and the plants are vegetatively propagated by shoots and clones.”

Top notch
Creating new things is part of the job. Monitoring the existing production varieties is a second important task: the flowering time, the colour (which must be and remain the same). Furthermore, we are constantly looking for improvements. The Belgian Mums have accordingly become a pièce de résistance and Wim is rightfully proud of them.

“The beautiful rounded shape is something that we have created here. Belgian Mums have a uniform flowering, are of excellent quality, and highly disease resistant. Occasionally, a new breed makes the breeder truly proud. “I was sure that “Primo Pistache” was a first. A green chrysanthemum had never been created before. Such moments are precious.”

source: Behind the scenes

For more information:
Schierveldestraat 14
B-8840 Oostnieuwkerke
T: +32 (0)51 26 88 88
F: +32 (0)51 22 22 49

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