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TAS Country : October 28th 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010 Tasmanian Country 9 News among lilies of the field SIBLING CO-OPERATION: Rob Sadler and Pip Kennedy manage complementary parts of the family business. Pictures: KAROLIN MacGREGOR different varieties of lily, and Pip said keeping good records was essential. Harvesting of the bulbs takes place between May and June. Pip said they used a specially designed bulb harvester that looks similar to a twin-row potato digger. Once they have been dug up the bulbs are transported to a factory at Wynyard that Southern Bulbs leases. There the bulbs are washed and graded for both flower production and plant stock. The bulbs are then either sent out to customers or put into cool storage ready for planting in eight to 10 weeks. Keeping on top of diseases in the bulb crops means sticking to carefully selected rotation with other crops, including pasture for the dairy operation and also poppies. Pip said their plan was not to increase production, but to keep improving their growing systems. Having one of your major customers right next door and in the family is also a significant advantage. While the Flowerdale Flowers business is a separate entity, it is also one of the major buyers of Southern Bulbs. Pip said being able to get feedback on their bulbs from her brother Rob was a unique situation. ''I guess there probably aren't too many other business like ours where we not only produce the bulbs but then use them in a commercial cut-flower business,'' she said. ''It's really good because we can get feedback from Rob about how certain varieties are performing and if there are any issues.'' Rob, who initially started studying commerce at university before switching to agriculture, came back to the family's business about four years ago. Since then he has focused on improving the branding and marketing of their flowers. The family is now one of the biggest cut-flower producers in the state and grow about 38 varieties of Asiatic, Oriental and LA hybrid lilies. ''Branding wasn't really that common 10 years ago, but I guess it's really a progressive thing, because the market has got more competitive in the last 10 years, so you need to use any advantage you can,'' Rob said. He said milder winter temperatures and a cooling affect of the ocean in summer made the property ideal for flower production. The top-quality lilies have an excellent vase life. ''One of the main advantages we have here on the coast is that it doesn't get too hot in summer,'' Rob said. ''For horticulture, the climate here on the North-West Coast is really good.'' At present the family can produce lilies for about nine months of the year, but Rob said plans to install a heated glasshouse would soon see them able to produce flowers year-round. They currently have about 1.5ha of growing area under hot houses. Flowers are cut six days a week and are bunched, packed, cooled and shipped within 24 hours of picking. After being processed and sorted into bunches of five stems, the flowers are placed in specially labelled plastic sleeves ready to be shipped to wholesalers across the country. The lilies are also sold in major supermarket chains. Keeping up a regular supply of the right type of flowers when growth rates and seasonal conditions vary means a careful planting schedule. Rob said timing their production to meet with peak demand times, including Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, was a crucial part of the business. ''Everything has to be scheduled for when it's needed, but it doesn't always work out like you want it to,'' he said. ''Things like temperature can have a big impact on the rate the flowers grow, so we have to try to take all that into account.'' Having his bulb supplier right next door is also an advantage. ''We're totally vertically integrated,'' Rob said. He said quality and consistency of supply were two of the most crucial factors in the flower game. Both Pip and Rob say the support they have received from their parents while they took over both businesses had been fantastic. ''We really couldn't have done it without their support, they've been really good,'' Pip said. Rob said while growing flowers was challenging, he enjoyed it. On Sunday 7 November we re recognising and thanking the people who volunteer their time and energy. Join us on Celebrate Tasmania Day to thank volunteers like Kate who help to make Tasmania a better place to live. Find out more -- visit www.celebratetasmaniaday.tas.gov.au THAT S WORTH CELEBRATING. DPAC2870TCO2rj
October 21st 2010
November 4th 2010