"There is a lot of research done behind a flower, but not everyone knows it. Therefore, we are eager to show the world", says Carmen Lucia Marquez of BallSB. They recently launched their new promotional video that tells the story behind the flower and earlier this month, FloralDaily got the opportunity to check out their - just one-year old - R&D center in Sesquile, an hour's drive from Bogota, Colombia.
Carmen Lucia Marquez of BallSB in front of the Delphiniums
Showing people the amount of research and work that goes into creating a new flower variety is not only the breeders' wish to share their story, it is also more and more demanded by the consumer. "People want a reason why they should buy our product", says Marquez. Therefore, it also functions as a marketing tool for the grower and retailer.
Besides this promo video, BallSB started to focus more on marketing their products. "Nowadays, it is all about roses and carnations, and we want to put diversification more in the spotlight." They, therefore, started to create flower use ideas, which they post on social media. "In pictures and videos, we will share ideas to inspire the consumer so that they get more acquainted and familiar with our products and in turn increase sales of the 'diversifieds'."
One of the 6 greenhouses at the R&D facility of BallSB
So, let's take a look at the breeder's site. Last year, BallSB opened their R&D facility in Sesquile. "Here, we test and show our core hero products." Currently, BallSB breeds gypsophila and limonium themselves and distributes the varieties of PanAmerican Seed, as well as some varieties of other breeders, owning a broad assortment of over 300 varieties. So, much of them are planted in the greenhouse.
Gypsophila and Limonium
Gypsophila and limonium are the two crops (out of the 5 breeding programs they are working on) BallSB breeds. Currently, they have 4 gypsophila varieties and continue their selection to expand the range. "We're always looking for bigger and fuller flowers, flowers that don't come down as well as flowers that need less energy to grow." In this latter segment, they recently introduced the Minibella, a variety that does not need additional lighting. This feature, according to Marquez, an important introduction for the growers. "Our Mirabella and Snowball, that are in the market for more than 15 years also do not need additional lighting, and that's also one of the reasons why they are so beloved by the growers." Also in Limonium, new and improved varieties are being added to their assortment. One of their latest introductions is Limonium Silvery Pink and at the CAST, last March in the USA, it was a real hit, as well as a Limonium Altaic “Skylight” that doesn’t have the typical Limonium smell.
Limonium Silvery Pink in the greenhouse.
Always on the lookout for the best varieties
As previously said, next to the varieties of BallSB and PanAmerican Seed, also varieties of other breeders are being trialed. "We want to offer our growers the best varieties. Therefore, we also work with other breeders. This way, they can trial their varieties in the climate of the highland tropics and we can offer them to our growers and give them cultivation advice along the way."
Experimenting with existing varieties
With this facility, they can test and select new and existing varieties under the highland tropic climatic circumstances. "We can test how new varieties grow on this side of the world. Once we know how it grows (how many cycles, pinches, and so on), we will launch it." However, not only new, but also existing varieties are being trialed. "Some existing varieties behave a little differently in Colombia, or act differently when they are being grown in another way. Due to the chilly weather in Bogota's Sabana, we can get excellent coloring, very white or red flowering kales."
Ball Group in front of the show house.
In the week of the Proflora, that took place earlier this month in Bogota, Ball held an open house, welcoming growers and retailers from all over the world. They not only got the opportunity to see all varieties trialed and in the BallSB assortment, they also visited farms that grow these varieties.
BallSB recently launched their new catalog, with the new image and brand positioning they have been working on in the last couple of months. "Our new brand position is focusing on our Ball pillars of growth: create more excitement in the world of flowers, color the world, and always be the first choice for service. For this new brand image, we have been working in creating exciting and innovative content by showing flowers in everyday situations, as well as telling a story behind where flowers come from. In our new catalog, you see the merge between the technical aspects of our varieties (that is what we are offering), as well as the inspirational stories and pictures that create the magic to sell! We think this combination is what differentiates us from everyone else and puts us in the top of mind of clients and buyers."
Eager to see the Ball varieties and meet the team? They will have a booth at the IFTF in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands, that will be held from November 6-8. The booth number is: A4.12.