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Ed van Paassen, VannoVa, on the introduction of Ilonka:

"Good cooperation pays off"

“It may sound a bit cliché, but good cooperation pays off,” says chrysanthemum grower Ed van Paassen of the chrysanthemum cooperative VannoVa master growers. Earlier this month, he launched the new white chrysanthemum Ilonka and so far he is very satisfied with the response. He only grows this variety in his 2.5 ha greenhouse in Maasdijk, the Netherlands, and has been part of the VannoVa group for a number of years. According to Ed, cooperation, not only between the members in this group and the breeders, but throughout the chrysanthemum sector is an important reason for the success.

Ed van Paassen among the Ilonka

Wide range of high quality
The VannoVa master growers group was founded in 2012. It is a collaboration of 8 different chrysanthemum growers, each with their own species(s) in which they specialize. They mainly serve the higher segment in Russia and the Eastern European market. After many years of working individually, Ed joined the group in 2017 and is still very happy with this decision.

“I had a good time, but because I specialize in 1 variety, I was soon no longer a big player internationally. The demand for a wide range is high, but offering a wide range and high quality is difficult to combine in a nursery like we have. That is why VannoVa is a good solution. Everyone has his or her specialty and together we can therefore offer a good range of high-quality chrysanthemums.”

Search for Bacardi's replacement
The group also helped Ed in his quest for an improvement and successor to Bacardi. After years of growing Bacardi (since 2011), he switched completely to Ilonka after many trials and chain tests. “We are always looking for improvements and discussing this with the group was very helpful. Together with Dümmen Orange, the breeder of Bacardi and also Ilonka, we have set up various trials and we have examined whether this variety is a good replacement, whether it fits well with the current VannoVa range and what the demand from the trade is.” After positive results, it was decided to switch completely to the Ilonka. "Bacardi is now completely out of the industry."

Positive reactions to Ilonka
Ed is very pleased with the responses. “At the moment there are four providers of Ilonka, including me. I only started harvesting the first commercial stems earlier this month, but the first grower has now been working with Ilonka for six months and is very satisfied. The trade switches well and is very pleased with the pure white color of the flower, the green heart and the even flower distribution. It is also a nice, uniform variety to grow. Moreover, a new variety like this still offers many opportunities for improvement."

Cooperation in the sector
Ed is very enthusiastic about the collaboration between the members of the group and the breeders, but also about the collaboration between all Dutch chrysanthemum growers. “The great thing about the chrysanthemum sector is that it is very open and that a lot of knowledge is shared. We all want the chrysanthemum to do well. That is why we do not want exclusivity for Ilonka, for example. We cannot serve the market alone, we need each other. This only makes the variety more successful. ”

Cooperation is also very important in the field of cultivation, Ed explains. “We try to control everything organically as much as possible and when you start a new variety, it is extra important to maintain good contact with the suppliers of the organic crop protection products. There is also structured consultation and knowledge exchange between the Ilonka growers. Each variety requires a specific approach, and we want to master Ilonka's approach as quickly as possible.”

2020: a hectic but good year
Last year was a hectic, but good year, in which the importance of operating in a group became very clear. “VannoVa has always had a webshop, but last year more than ever was ordered via the webshop, because supply restrictions were set by the auction to limit the throughput. As a result, buyers hooked up online and we would never have been able to continue as well without the webshop. Here, too, the collaboration has given us an enormous lead. ”

Collaboration is also central to VannoVa in the future. "We want to strengthen this within the group so that VannoVa remains a strong and leading brand in the chrysanthemum sector in the future."

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