I prefer to show you how the bunches of Tulips, you see for sale in the stores during the months of winter, are produced.
We take a look at Dutch Flora, a modern Tulip forcing company settled nearby our factory in the rural Dutch village Warmenhuizen.
Normally a Tulip blooms in April or May. To make the Tulip bloom in the months of winter you have to fool her a little bit. A Tulip forcer put his Tulip bulbs at the end of the summer, as soon as he know that the flower inside the Tulip bulb is fully developed, in the cooler.
Now the Tulip thinks that the winter started and starts to transform his starch into sugars which are needed to quickly starts growing once the winter is over. The bulbs in the cooler are just in the crates, they are not planted yet. After 13 weeks in the cooler at 5 degrees Celsius the Tulips are planted. Not in soil but in so called pin trays.
The pin trays are filled with a few centimeters of water and placed back in the cooler for another 2 weeks.
These last two weeks in the cooler the Tulip bulbs are standing with their bottom in the water and they quickly start to develop roots. After the 2 weeks of rooting the bulbs have had a total cooling period of 15 weeks and now it is time to bring them in the greenhouse.
The trays are put on a roller system and are rolled to the back end of the greenhouse.
Before they are pushed in the greenhouse, they are given a good sip of water. Now the Tulip bulbs are fooled again, in the greenhouse the temperature is around 18 degrees Celsius and the Tulip bulbs are thinking; Hey, winter is over, this feels like spring… let’s start growing.
During these 3 weeks the trays with Tulips are pushed forward in the greenhouse. The Tulips that are ready for harvesting are taken away in the front of the greenhouse, and at the back end of the greenhouse news Tulips are brought in from the cooler.
In the front of the greenhouse the trays with Tulips are placed on a roller system and brought to the picking area. As soon as the buds of the Tulips are starting to show colour, they are harvested and put on a conveyor belt.
At the end of the conveyor belt the Tulips are grabbed, just above the bulb, by two rubber bands. Now the painful part is coming, hanging upside down between the rubber bands the Tulip is brought to a machine that cuts of the bulb.
The Tulips land on another conveyor belt to put them straight and to place the Tulips buds at exact the same height. See the green laser line on the belt.
The next machine counts exact 10 stems in a bucket. Now 2 rubber bands are knitted on the bunch. At the end of the line the Tulips are packed in bundles of 5 bunches, rolled in a paper and places in the flower auction buckets.
The auction buckets with Tulips are places on the auction cart and brought back to the cooler.
At nighttime the trucker comes to collect them and brings them to the auction in Aalsmeer. At 6 in the morning the auction starts, and the Tulips are available for the flower shops and supermarkets.
This is how the bunch of Tulips, that you can enjoy during the months of winter, is made.
Carlos van der Veek