“We could see the European market was hungry for newer varieties of waxflower”, says Hans Hettasch of Arnelia Farms, a 60-hectare flower farm based at Hopefield – which is located 130km north of Capetown, South Africa. Waxflower is their largest crop and connecting with Helix Australia gave them a much wider range of unique hybrids of different colors and bloom sizes. “On top of that, the Helix range of waxflower has provided us increased yield and extended harvest periods from mid-June until early November”, he adds.
Hans Hettasch in the field with Moonlight.
From 6 ha to 60 ha
Owned and managed by Hans Hettasch, Arnelia Farms specializes in Waxflower, Leucadendron, and Leucospermum. The farm was established in 2002 and has grown from the initial 6 ha planting to now over 60 ha under cultivation. In addition to the large-scale cut flower crops, Arnelia Farms also grows pot plants in similar species targeted at local garden centers and big box store outlets. Prior to establishing Arnelia Farms, Hans Hettasch was employed by a large fruit grower where Hans managed their protea cut flower division. Arnelia Farms now employs 110 permanent staff with another 80 staff added for the peak harvest period from July until mid-December.
Waxflower, their largest crop
Waxflower is the largest flower crop grown by Arnelia Farms and after growing a range of older waxflower varieties, Hans made contact with Helix Australia and became the exclusive agent/grower of Helix varieties in South Africa. The first shipment of unrooted cuttings of Helix waxflower varieties was sent from Australia to South Africa in 2008. Hans: “Helix Australia is a very market-driven breeder and is constantly trying to focus its R and D on either filling existing gaps in the market or creating new demand via outstanding hybrids plus their commitment to marketing and public relations which helps lift the profile of waxflower.”
On an annual basis, Arnelia Farms must manage extreme heat in summer and the risk of frosts during winter. Covid added an extra challenge. Hans: “Covid was extremely challenging for our farm with increased freight rates and limited freight space availability.”
Also provides rooted cuttings
In addition to propagating waxflower for its own cut flower crops, Arnelia Farms also provides rooted cuttings for other licensed growers of Helix Australia based in South Africa. Arnelia also supplies rooted waxflower cuttings for Helix licensed pot plant growers in Europe.
Adrian Parsons, Managing Director of Helix Australia spoke very positively of the strong relationship forged with Arnelia over a 14-year period. “We just love the hunger and passion that Hans Hettasch and Arnelia Farms have for growing waxflower and we are fortunate to have such a professional grower as our exclusive agent in the South African market.”
“Arnelia has progressed many of our trial varieties at a rapid speed to market including new hybrids Grace, Niek’s Pride, Giselle, and Purple Rain which will all start to hit the market this season”
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