JACOB & JELTJE LOEF - Loef Carnations, Drury
The Loef’s were busy picking standard carnations in one of their plastic covered houses when we arrived, assisted by two of their daughters and one of their 25 grandchildren!
As a family team, they pick by hand three times a week and then strictly ‘grade’ their carnations in a packing shed at the bottom of their property. Loef Carnations follow strict ‘grading guidelines’ to ensure that only the best quality is sold to the New Zealand market.
Carnations need to be picked at the right time, when the bloom isn’t too open and isn’t too closed. This is a ‘picking point’ that the Loef’s have spent years perfecting along with their specific variety range of carnations.
We met their youngest son busy removing all of the glass panes from some of their older houses as they will be replacing with plastic sheeting. These houses have been on this property since the early 1980s and it was great to see a piece of ‘growing history’ getting a bit of a make-over! Glass paned growing houses are slowly being ‘phased out’ of the industry as there is such a high damage rate.
Have a read through our 'interview with a grower' Q&A session below to learn more about Jacob & Jeltje and their business:
1) What year was your business founded?
2) Have flowers always been your primary crop?
No. For the first four years we grew tomatoes and beans
3) Is it a family run business? If so who are the family members involved?
Yes. Husband and wife Team. When the children were little we employed non family staff, as they got older the children worked as paid employees. At present two of our married daughters are employed on a part time basis.
4) How do you grow your product lines? (under glass? In trays? Etc)
In green houses, both glass and plastic. For growing medium we use pumice sand, in lined and individually drained beds. For fertigation we use drip tape.
5) How to you pick/process your product lines?
6) Tell us what you love about growing flowers for the NZ market.
Although for economic reasons we were forced to switch from vegetable production to flowers, we have learned to love our carnation production with its many challenges, which colours, what cultivar, how to grade and pack for best quality and returns? Also it has afforded us a very satisfying way of life.
7) How many stems per season do you produce in each of your product lines?
We grow standard carnations only, and being reliant on nature for warmth and light (or lack of) our production can vary between 350000 – 450000 stems per calendar year.
8) How do you keep up with the trends in the market?
Since we only grow standard carnations the only market trends, are changes in fashion colours. Being a bi-annual crop it’s hard to change on a whim, so we stick mainly with the staple hues of red, white, pink and yellow, having said that we currently have 17 different colours.
9) How many staff does it take to keep your business running?
Four permanent part timers and seasonal casual help
10) What makes NZ Grown Products superior to the rest?
The fact that it is fresher and does not have to contend with the rigors of extended transporting times, and the quality and passion of the growers.
11) Explain more about the plant propagation side of your business please.
We do not propagate our own plant material, but solely rely on the only propagator of standard carnations in NZ .i.e. Van Lier Nurseries.