In 1995 Ko Kolk stopped growing roses. The Amstelveen-based grower started focusing on Hydrangeas. A quarter of a century later, father and son Bartjan lead the way in hydrangea cultivation. Their own cut flower varieties mainly find their way in arrangements to destinations as far away as the Middle East. When the municipality needed the land for housing, Ko Kolk Hortensia was offered a new-build opportunity: a KUBO greenhouse covering nearly three hectares. ->
On the Legmeerdijk in Amstelveen, father and son have bought a 7.5-hectare plot of land. It is only 400 metres from the current business that is moving to make way for housing. Initially, 2.9 hectares of the land will be developed. However, the plans already accommodate a doubling of that area. And no wonder, because Ko Kolk Hortensia is doing well. Among others, due to the success of their own cut flower varieties. Bartjan Kolk: 'We started with potted plant varieties, but they were not suitable for cutting. You're then tied to the pot plant cycle and we want to be able to cut flowers on fresh stems from April to November.'
Our breeding programme has been so successful that other growers cultivate the cultivars under licence. 'We distinguish ourselves in our grower-friendly varieties which are not climate-dependent. In a hot summer, this means that turnover is not too disappointing. The flowers also travel very well. Hydrangeas for distant destinations are transported dry in boxes. You then need easy varieties that are not too susceptible to damage.'
Much of the turnover goes to the Middle East, where hydrangeas are often used in arrangements. They are also popular for wedding and party decorations. Bartjan: 'That's why we are really feeling the impact of the coronacrisis. With many weddings having been cancelled, we suddenly need to find a market for all these flowers. But life goes on, so next year we expect weddings to be back on the agenda.'
More even climate
When choosing their new build, they decided on a conventional greenhouse, but one that is six metres high. 'Because we don't heat much, we still need to be able to dehumidify using the height of the greenhouse. So we went for the full six metres. With colleagues, we saw that you get a more uniform climate and drier conditions in the autumn.'
And why KUBO? 'For the Excellent cover system that KUBO uses, a system that drains rainwater well. You also have deck systems that mix rainwater with condensation water. With the Excellent system, they stay separate. And KUBO has a good name. A colleague also used KUBO and they recommended the company.' The building is almost complete. 'At the beginning of March, the land was still very wet, but once the foundation was laid, it stayed dry. Construction went very well - I have nothing but praise for KUBO.'