In the text below, the cultivation process of our flower bulbs will be described. Normally this is the standard production process which take place every season. After completing these processes, the bulbs will be transported to next player in the chain, namely; forcing companies and trading / export companies.
Before we can plant the bulbs into the soil, inspection is needed to asses if the ground is suitable enough for the cultivation of certain. Fresh soil that contains the right dose of nutrients and having a good structure are one of the key issues for the cultivation of high quality bulbs. The soil also must contain a good working drainage. The drainage is a system which efficiently waters and fertilizes the flowering bulbs from the underground. When the soil contains the appropriate properties, preparation of the soil is needed. We plough the soil, if necessary we threat the soil with extra nutrients and plant the bulbs in lines.
After preparing the soil, bulbs will planted by machinery with care. Every type bulb or tube has its own planting period. According to a planting schedule the bulbs are planted. The schedule contains the right crop rotation and the right planting period. Crop rotation implies that we change the bulbs annually from field in order to reduce diseases. The bulbs will be planted by machinery and puts the bulb in the ground at a certain dept. Then the bulb will be covered with soil and straw. The straw acts as a blanket to protect the bulb from freezing in winter.
After we have planted the bulbs, they will developing a period in the soil. The bulb first produces a root system. The fall and winter are the best periods for the bulb to develop their root system. If the bulb is having a good root system, the crop development will be started. In spring the most bulbs will develop their crop above the soil. On the field, the crop is susceptible for diseases. In order to prevent illnesses will spread out on the field, crops will protected preventively. Through the introduction of an auxiliary air sprayer, the pesticides effectively and efficiently applied to the crop. The crop also needs nutrients so the bulb will grow. Because the soil is not containing all of the required nutrients, the grower have to apply those additives by himself.
The selection procedure actually starts before the bulbs are planted. On a conveyor belt the bulbs were selected on quality. Bulbs which have been damaged or having a disease will removed. What is left are bulbs which having the right quality for planting. The second selection procedure is in spring. In spring we walk through the fields to check the flowering bulbs. The selecting people are trained to pick out diseases by looking at the flowers and leaves. After continuous selections of the selecting people, the fields are checked by the BKD. This an organization for quality control on flower bulbs. They make sure the field live up to the standard and are free of diseases. After approval by the BKD, the harvesting procedure can be started. With some crops it is necessary to remove the top of the flower from the bulb (tulip and lilies). By removing the flower, the bulb quality is getting better. After cutting the flower from the bulb, the leaves and plant remain. At this moment the leaves and plant are still having a green color. After a few weeks waiting, the leaves and plants are getting a different color. This process called ripening process. In this period all nutrients of the leaves and plants getting transported to the bulb underground. The bulb is growing.
In time the crop is developing until the ripening process, from time to time it is necessary to irrigate the fields with water. In this period the bulbs are needed a lot of water to develop the crop and the bulb. The combination of water and added nutrients are the basic elements for bulb grow. If rain does not come naturally, artificial irrigation is necessary.
Most spring crops are getting harvested in summer and summer crops most of the time will harvested in fall and winter. After the crop is sufficiently dead, the bulbs are ripe enough for harvest. Special machinery is used to get the bulbs undamaged out of the ground. The machine lifts up the bulbs, clears the soil and dirt and transports the bulbs in large boxes. At the machine there are people which are removing rocks and weed. The bulbs are still not that clean as necessary, so further processes are needed to get dry and clean bulbs for the customer.
The bulbs are harvested in large boxes. By use of a forklift the boxes with bulbs are placed in front of a drying wall. These drying walls are forcing a mixture of fresh, dry and warm air through the boxes with bulbs. Drying the boxes with bulbs requires a specific approach and is supported by the product knowledge of the breeder and the use of a climate computer. To find the perfect balance in the duration of drying bulbs is one of the secrets for growing good quality bulbs. Through sophisticated control techniques, the drying process can be managed for all types of bulbs. The climate computer monitors and records temperature, relative humidity, ventilation etc. Only by the use of modern climate control equipment and product knowledge of the breeder, the quality of healthy bulbs can be guaranteed. After drying, the last soil on the bulb will mechanically separated by a sieve.
After harvesting, drying and sieving, the bulbs are not clean enough for delivery to our customers. At this stage the bulbs still contain dirtiness (old skin) and new small bulbs are still attached to the big ‘mother’ bulb. To make the bulbs ready for export, the old skin and the new small bulbs must pealed off. For some bulbs we can make use of a machine, however a number of bulbs are not suitable for this. To prevent bulb damage, a number of bulbs must be cleaned by hand.
The next process after cleaning, is grading the different bulbs by size. We make use of a grading machine to sort out different sizes of bulbs. The sizes of the bulbs are standardized in our industry. The grading machine is equipped with standardized grading sheets to sort out different sizes of bulbs. For some bulbs like lilies you make use of another type of sorting machine without sheets. This machine is calibrated to sort out the different sizes of bulbs on weight. Flower bulbs with smaller sizes will be used for planting material. The bigger sized bulbs are suitable for sale. Directly after grading, the bigger sized bulbs are counted with a counting machine. When the bulbs are not sold yet the boxes with bulbs were placed into climate controlled storage rooms. During the process of grading and counting, quality control is performed.
After we finished the cleaning and grading process, the boxes with bulbs were placed into climate controlled storage rooms. The planting material for next year’s crop will be store for a longer period. The big sized bulbs which are intended for sale at forcing or trading companies, are temporarily stored until they were sold and delivered. All these bulbs are stored into climate controlled storage rooms. The climate computer is used to give the bulbs the right temperature treatment. We always can track and trace our products because of the use of our climate computer.
Flower bulb nursery W.W. van Haaster & Zn. do offer their customers preparation services tailored for a certain bulbous and tuberous plants. We mainly keep bigger sized hyacinth bulbs and calla tubers for longer time in storage and giving them the right treatment for forcing and trading/export companies. This pretreatment ensures quality improvement for our customers.
The last process is delivery. After a short period of storage, bulbs will be inspected on quality for the last time by hand. On a conveyor belt the bulbs were selected on quality. Bulbs which have been damaged or having a disease will be removed. What is left are bulbs which having the right quality. For each order we select and count the bulbs which our customer has ordered. Before the bulbs are ready for dispatch, the packing units will be labeled. After the administrative processes are finished, the shipping documents are made. This process is automated by a special designed software for flower bulb nurseries. The bulbs now are ready for delivery.