The floriculture industry is a staple in the Netherlands. Flower suppliers export approximately €5 billion worth of flowers per year. This is one of the reasons why the Netherlands is the second largest agriculturalexporter in the world. The first being the United States.
Today the group got to visit Keukenhof, which is a non-profit floriculture exhibition that showcases tulips and other flower types every year. Visitors from all over the world, travel to see beautiful flower arrangements. We learned that approximately 75-80% travel from aboard to visit Keukenhof, and they also expect approximately 800,000 visitors per year. Keukenhof is only open 8 weeks out of the year. So this means that they are fully running during the Spring months (i.e. end of Mar-May) when the flowers bloom. To make Keukenhof each year it requires 10 months to create beautiful flower arrangements and the design. The designs of the flower arrangements change annually. The flowers are planted each year by hand as bulbs in August-November, so that they are able to flower come spring time for the visitors to see during their visit.
We also learned that it takes approximately 25 years to make a new tulip variety. Tulips can not be made in the lab, so the only way to successfully develop a new variety of tulips is by cross-pollination. The steps for developing a new breed of tulips are in the first year, plant crossing occurs, in years five and six flower color starts to develop, and finally in years 20-25 the tulips are tested for various diseases or malfunctions that would prove unnecessary for the tulip.
After we finished our tour of Keukenhof, we traveled to Wageningen, Netherlands where one of the top agricultural universities of the world is located. We found out that Wageningen is not as busy as the city of Amsterdam, but more of a quiet, calm atmosphere. Once we checked into our hotel, we had a very unique dinner from a Michelin star chef consisting of steak tartare and pigeon.
We very much appreciated the generousity that Keukenhof gave us by opening up their doors to us during their closing time of their business cycle. We all can not wait to come back and see the beautiful flowers blooming during the Spring in our next visits to Keukenhof in the future.
Nick Neumann, The University of Missouri