Kenya: Molo River Roses expands with garden type roses

Garden type roses are highly popular. This combined with the aim of creating a broad and diverse assortment made Kenyan intermediate and spray rose grower Molo River Roses decide to start trialing the new garden type cut roses of the Rosa Loves Me series. They have chosen one variety to grow commercially on 0.5 ha and the end of December and beginning of January they expect to harvest the first roses.

Andrew Wambua in the greenhouse with the Rosa Loves Me With Heart and Soul.

Molo River Roses is a fairly young farm that was established in 2012. In their 10 ha greenhouse they planted intermediate roses in 2013 and added spray roses to their assortment soon after. "At that time, the market for spray roses started to grow and we noticed that spray roses are growing very well at the altitude of our farm, which is 1750 meters above sea level. At this altitude, unlike at an altitude of 2000 meters and above, the plants have a higher production, the stems are better proportioned (not that thick as on an altitude of 2,000 meters), and the roses have a number of five heads and above", says Andrew Wambua, General Manager, Molo River Roses.

Adding garden type rose
In 2014, they expanded the farm to 17 ha and produced around 30 percent spray and 70 percent intermediate roses. In 2016, they expanded the farm again, to 23 ha, and decided to add another type of rose, the garden type rose. "In this way, we offer our customers a broader assortment to choose from.

Rosa Loves Me With Heart and Soul.

Trialing roses
So, in 2016, they started to do trials with the garden type varieties of Viking Roses. "We were looking for another type of rose and John Pouw of Viking Roses was looking for a Kenyan farm to trial the new rose varieties. Initially, we started with the six varieties of the Rosa Loves Me series. Out of the six we were interested in four and in the end we have chosen for the variety that had the best results, called Rosa Loves Me Heart and Soul. It has large heads and grows quickly without any crop protection products."

John Pouw of Viking Roses presenting the Rosa Loves Me With Heart and Soul at the IFTF in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands.

No crop protection products
The fact that the crop does not require any crop protection products probably results from the way the crop is tested on disease resistance. "The varieties are bred in Denmark, by Rosa Eskelund, and after a series of selection rounds in Denmark, the roses undergo outdoor testing for resistance and open air production in the Netherlands", says John Pouw. Those that still look promising after that are planted indoors at a Dutch grower for specific cut rose selection. From there trial material is sent to specific production areas and altitudes for further testing. "That's when I came in contact with Wambua. He, 'the worthy Wambua' (nickname) with controller Steve, ‘steadfast Steve’ built the farm from the ground. They planted the first plants in the soil and made the farm profitable in no time. Also at Molo River Roses, the Rosa Loves Me varieties do not need any crop protection products, when grown solely in a greenhouse."

Rosa Loves Me With Heart and Soul in the greenhouse.

Planting the crop
After conducting the trials and receiving good feedback from the Heart and Soul varieties, Molo River decided to plant 0.5 ha of it. We expect to have the first production the end of December and beginning of January." And the interest for the rose is high. "Everything is already sold out and the majority of the flowers will go to Scandinavia", says Wambua. However, they also noticed a demand from the US, China and Japan. "So if the interest continues to grow, we are eager to increase the production to one ha and add more varieties of this line."

Trialing more varieties
And there are more new varieties to come from Molo River Roses. "We have done some commercial trials with Rosa Loves Me Tender, and several Spray roses in the Rosa Loves Me line that are not named yet", says Wambua

For more information:
Molo River Roses
Andrew Wambua

Viking Roses
John Pouw
M: +31 6 41686880

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