Dirk koper talks about premium variety Villa Blanca

Lily Villa Blanca excellent for outdoor cultivation

The fact that they also do well outdoors was the main reason for Dirk Koper to take up this variety himself.

“Europe is the primary market for white lilies”, says Dirk Koper from Cooperflowers in Heemskerk. His top 10 bestselling varieties all go out to the European market. White lily Villa Blanca is therefore a perfect match to the existing range of the 2 brothers Dirk (age 47) and Ge Koper (age 53). “We try to distinguish ourselves with the range we offer. We therefore do not grow your run in the mill varieties. White is the most popular colour on the European market. Approximately 60% of our range is white. The rest is made up by pink, orange, deep pink and red.” Villa Blanca is owned by growers association Santana, which is accommodated by CNB. Cooperflowers is the only grower growing cut stems of this particular lily.

The quality of Dutch outdoor lilies is similar to the quality of outdoor lilies grown in Italy. That’s why a large proportion of Cooperflowers’ supply is exported to Italy. “The majority of our lilies go to Southern Europe and mainly to Italy. All our products go through the Dutch auction, which houses our top 10 loyal buyers.” From mid-July until mid-October, Cooperflowers cultivates outdoor lilies under polytunnels to protect them from the weather. Cooperflowers has about 7.5 acres of land and a greenhouse of 3000 m2. Thanks to the greenhouse, they can already start their activities as from mid-May. The greenhouse is also put into use at the end of the season from mid-October until the end of November. The flowers are offered at the Aalsmeer auction (70 percent) and at the auction in Naaldwijk (30 percent).

The first stems of Villa Blanca from the greenhouse were auctioned for the first time at the beginning of June and the revenues taken, were very acceptable. This is the first year that Cooperflowers is cultivating this variety lily. “We had purchased it through lily representative Jurgen de Graaf. He was the one, who recommended this lily to us, since it was such an excellent outdoor variety. It is because of the thickness of the stems. Also, the blooms are nicely concentrated at the top of the stem and the colour of the flowers isn’t pure white but with a hue of cream in its petals. The large buds will turn into massive blooms, which is what customers are looking for.” The OT is from breeding company, World Breeding BV in Breezand. As this is Koper’s first time ever growing this variety lily, there isn’t much he can tell yet about specific growing features etc. “No worries though, I have faith”, he says confidently. “The stem length is good, it has plenty of buds and it is a fairly fast growing variety. I’m very happy for the time being. We expect to cut around 25,000 stems, which we will offer to our top 10 loyal buyers first. We will have to wait and see the actual result but hopefully feedback will be good.”

Koper thinks that CNB Premium Varieties is a very good initiative: “Every bit of exposure has added value. We need this value to be able to put a new product on the market. We also see this in www.uitheemskerk.nl, which is associated by many growers based in Heemskerk (including Cooperflowers). It generates a lot of positive feedback.”

Text: Lilian Braakman
Fotography: René Faas