Last year during the countdown to Valentine's Day, we spoke to African rose growers on the best red roses to look out for in 2015. A good number of them shared common enthusiasm for the introduction of Red Naomi! in the continent. But in the midst of all the expectations, questions arose on how the rose would measure up to the very succesful Dutch version and other African reds that had already established a niche in the global market. Now all the speculation might be laid to rest as the African Red Naomi! makes its commercial debut into the market.
“The only difference between Africa's Red Naomi! and the Dutch Red Naomi! is the fact that the African version spends a couple of days in a box on her way to Europe,” asserts Haiko Backer, the MD at Schreurs East Africa. Haiko is the man who spearheaded the venture to have an African grown Red Naomi! rose and has overseen the process till now. The rose has undergone numerous trials and the results are nothing short of impressive.
“We have conducted trials in partnership with 30 established African rose growers at various rose growing zones. Out of that, 15 of them are now growing the rose commercially,” he adds. Average annual production for Red Naomi! now stands at
160-200 stems per square metre depending on the growing zone.
We inquire about feedback the breeder has received from growers and trade on the rose with regards to production range, vaselife, transportability, and other attributes.
“Feedback has been positive and encouraging, we have had no complains so far from the growers, traders and even consumers,” says Haiko Backer.
He adds that the African Red Naomi! is suitable for all markets and projects that the rose will perform well this year, starting with Valentine’s season.
"Red Naomi! is a good grower with a similarly good stem length and bud size. Red Naomi! has a large head with a high petal count, a nice and unique subtle fragrance and a perfect vase life lasting up to a fortnight. Additionally she has good transport and trading characteristics. With all these qualities, Red Naomi! is the definite leader in the red rose segment."
Schreurs Red Naomi! information for African Growers
Red Naomi! being a vigorous grower with relatively good leaves, we believe it is important to start off with proper bent foliage since the crop responds well to this. We recommend ‘double-bending’, whereby the first basal shoots or bottom breaks are also bent rather than harvested. Thereafter we keep the bent foliage full & fresh by re-bending or pinching the suckers on the bendings & bending any weaker stems. Otherwise we’ve found Red Naomi! to be an easy grower & not requiring of any special treatment.
Pests & diseases
With the exception of the odd spot of powdery mildew in very young plants, we have experienced no issues with pests or diseases. The variety doesn’t appear to be susceptible to either downy mildew or botrytis even though our pesticide sprays have been minimal. It all depends on who the grower is.
The cut stage adopted will be partially dependent upon the market being supplied & the buyer’s preference. We believe that our best cut stage for the auction is about the size of 5 Kenyan shilling coin, for the direct market is about the size of 10 Kenyan shilling coin and for bouquet (a bit open) is about the size of 20 Kenyan shilling coin. However, Red Naomi! opens & performs well in the vase from any cut stage 10-14 days. Harvesting is done slightly tight then the flowers are left to open to the right cut stage.
This method is also used by Dutch Red Naomi! growers. Flowers at the right cut stage should be put in the coolers immediately. Handling of the product is high care to avoid damages. Harvesting is done line by line and the usual position to cut is just above the second five leaflet (True Leaf) leaf. Once each line is done the flowers are immediately put in the post-harvest solution. The flowers should be neatly arranged with longer grade sizes set separate from shorter grades to avoid thorns damaging soft petals. The in charge supervisor will conduct the first quality check, put a traceability sticker then dispatch to the grading hall. Flowers are carried separate from the rest of the flowers as a measure of ensuring they are perfect.
Red Naomi! Post harvest
Post harvest is important and we have taken great care in trying-out several post harvest solutions. Our solution is made up of Calcium Hypochlorite and Aluminium Sulphate. Calcium Hypochlorite provides Chlorine which acts as a disinfectant and acidifier. Disinfection is the treatment of the water to inactivate or destroy pathogenic bacteria, fungi, viruses, cysts, and other microorganisms. The aluminium sulphate acts as a flocculant. Flocculation is a process where colloids come out of suspension in the form of flocs or flake thus purifying the water. The water purification process starts first prior to disinfection and acidification. In a tank of+- 200liters of water we add+- 144g of the aluminium sulphate stir it well and let it sit. The flakes are then decanted out, then we add 5g of calcium hypochlorite stir the solution well and measure the pH which should be about 4.5-4.8.
From the field, the product is well monitored in terms of time harvested the quality and the time taken from the greenhouse to the intake. Here the product is then held in the cooler for atleast 4hrs and ready to be graded the old crop and new crop are harvested and graded separately. At the grading hall Red Naomi! is distributed to the measuring tables, then sorted in terms of length, ready to be supplied to the graders who then grade the best quality. Immeditely after this the product is taken to the dispatch house and held overnight ready to be packed in the morning.
After grading the Red Naomi, crop is packed per length (40, 50, 60, and 70) using different pack rates as follows:
Length pack rate
40 cm 280 stems
50 cm 220 stems
60 cm 200 stems
70 cm 160 stems
All the flowers are bunched in 10 stems per bunch and the longer the length the lesser the number of bunches in the box to avoid breakages and bruising (damages) the flowers After packing an inner strap is used to hold the bunches together to avoid movement while under transportation. The box is covered and strapped towards the box ends and printed stickers contain the details of the box placed strategically on both box ends after which the product is ready for sale.
Production is 160-200 stems per square metre annually (Difference per growing area)
The production information is based on observations from trials at Vegpro-Kongoni Galaxy farm, grown under Schreurs specific conditions & cultivation methods.