World Bowl ®, a unique purple tulip
Here is a trouble-free product that sells itself. What more could you ask for?
World Bowl ® is a double-flowered purple tulip appreciated throughout the supply chain. Primarily for its appearance but also for its other characteristics. Here is a trouble-free product that sells itself. What more could you ask for? With all this going for it, you might like to know more about World Bowl ®.
For the origins of World Bowl ®, we have to turn to Gerard Buis in the Dutch town of Nieuwe Niedorp. Buis cultivates new tulip varieties on 4 hectares in the Netherlands, peonies on 12 hectares in France, and also breeds tulips himself. The parentage of ‘World Bowl’ is not entirely clear. ‘In any case, I know I used ‘Monte Carlo’,’ recalls Buis. The hybridising also took place some time ago. ‘That was back in 1994. Even then, I thought it was a useful tulip: every bulb produced a flower, and they looked good, too. It also had an eye-catching bud presentation; most double tulips are green when still in bud, but the buds of ‘World Bowl’ are already purple. Besides, not many double-flowered tulip cultivars are purple. I forced this variety in my own greenhouse first; later, it was tested in the greenhouses of Broeiproevenbedrijf Van den Hoek. This is where Kees Stoop spotted ‘World Bowl’. He and other members of Phoenix (a growers’ association) wanted very much to purchase this variety.’
Kees Stoop of Firma K. Stoop in Waarland and three fellow growers are affiliated with Phoenix. He can still very clearly remember the first time he saw ‘World Bowl’ in 2008. ‘I loved its purple colour. There was nothing to compare to it back then. What’s more, it was a double tulip, and these were all the rage at that time. The bud’s position among the leaves was also good. Stoop went to look at it more than once and also saw it growing in the field. ‘I had no more doubts: this was a good tulip. I managed to persuade my Phoenix colleagues; fortunately for us, Gerard Buis was willing to sell.’ The growers’ association started off with 300 kilos. ‘For the forcing, we contacted Dolf de Wit & Zonen in Heemskerk. This company really knows its stuff. We gave them an exclusive contract to force these tulips. To promote this variety, we gave out bunches of them at the flower auction. They sold well right from the start, and we’re getting good prices for them.’
‘World Bowl’ also attracted the attention of other bulb growers. ‘The Coöperatieve Kwekersvereniging `Richarda’ U.A. was one of those interested. The six growers affiliated with this cooperative are also growing this variety now. Since one of the growers affiliated with Phoenix has stopped growing ‘World Bowl’, this variety is now being produced by nine growers. The growers frequently consult each other to prevent overproduction and maintain control over sales. ‘We try to make the best estimate we can beforehand. Although we’ve noted that we haven’t reached our ceiling yet, and there is still room for expansion, we’re taking this step by step. Some of the bulbs are exported to foreign forcing operations and some are forced here in the Netherlands – primarily at Dolf de Wit & Zonen.’ ‘World Bowl’ is now being cultivated on approximately 4 hectares. I’m growing a row length of 3000 feet myself, so that’s a 150% portion (Eleven portions are issued.) Stoop is satisfied with the production traits of ‘World Bowl’. ‘It doesn’t produce a lot of bulbs but they have closely fitting tunics and make for trouble-free cultivation. They also demand very good prices. Of the varieties I grow, this is the best tulip by far.’
‘We’ve been working with ‘World Bowl’ since 2009,’ says Erwin de Wit who, along with his brother Ronald, runs Dolf de Wit & Zonen, a commercial forcing company in Heemskerk. ‘We saw the results of a trial of ‘World Bowl’ and liked what we saw. It was a good decision: ‘World Bowl’ really is a very good tulip. A hundred bulbs are sure to produce a hundred flowers. This variety performs exceptionally well in the greenhouse. It has a fast uniform growth rate and is easy to process. The bulbs are relative expensive because this is an exclusive variety but then we also get a nice price for our products.’ De Wit started by producing 30,000 stems and is now producing around 450,000 stems of this variety per season, all of which are sold at auction. ‘We start planting them at the beginning of October. We start sending ‘World Bowl’ to auction in mid-January with a peak around International Women’s Day on 8 March. Our buyers are pleased and keep coming back for more. Our contacts at export companies also ask explicitly for this variety.’ This year, De Wit still has exclusive rights as the only Dutch forcer to work with this double-flowered purple tulip. ‘We’ve had these exclusive rights for about six years now; this has worked out really nice for us. I’m aware that they want to start expanding production but I wonder how this will affect prices. This tulip is generating a good profit now. If all of us go about it sensibly, this will stay that way.
‘Two years ago, we started out with 10,000 bulbs of this variety,’ says Paul Groot of P. Nelis & Zoon’s Bloembollenkwekerij en Handel B.V. in Heemstede. ‘We sold every single one of them, so we doubled our purchase this year to 20,000 bulbs.’ Groot sees product presentation as the most important advantage of ‘World Bowl’. ‘The bud has a beautiful purple colour and is positioned perfectly among the leaves. It’s simply a fantastic tulip.’ Nelis takes a very close look at any new variety before producing it. ‘We test all varieties first ourselves. We noticed, for instance, that it takes a while for ‘World Bowl’ to reach Stage G: it’s not a very early tulip. But it is a special variety: one for the specialist trade.’ Nelis thus sells these bulbs to commercial bulb forcers in other countries who market exclusive varieties for the florist sector. ‘Supermarkets won’t pay a nickel more for such a beautiful tulip; so selling to them there would be a losing proposition. This is definitely a tulip for the high-end market. The bulbs are sold to forcing companies in countries like Russia, Poland, Iceland, Finland and Denmark. ‘If they were suitable for Japan, we could also sell a lot of them there. World Bowl is decidedly promising: a variety that sells itself and can still be produced in greater numbers.’
By: Monique Ooms
Photography: René Faas