Blue roses do not come out of the blue
After over 20 years of breeding, testing and propagating, Japanese breeder Suntory Flowers succeeded in putting a new color rose on the market. It was launched mid-September and the first flowers have been shipped out from Maxiflores, a farm in Colombia, to Fresca Farms, which will exclusively supply the North American market with this new variety named Applause.
First blue rose
For decades flower breeders have been looking to create blue roses. It also took Suntory several years (over 20 in total) to breed, to get the sufficient material to grow it and be able to sell this variety commercially. According to marketing manager, Masashi Matsumura of Suntory Flowers, it is the first blue rose on the market. "Blue pigment is not common in roses and they were unable to synthesize the blue pigment called delphinidin from among tens of thousands of genes contained in blue flowers.”
Suntory Flowers is known for their GM carnations “Moon series carnations”, and just like those flowers, this new rose is also genetically modified. "In this way, we were able to get this blue color." And the color tends to be the most blue variety in the market. "Many roses that are said to have the color blue or lavender are more pink when comparing it with Applause. The color of this variety has more similarities with blue - lavender", says Mario Vicente, General Manger at Fresca Farms.
Long vase life
Next to creating a new color, genetic modification entails more benefits. According to Masashi Matsumura of Suntory , an important benefit that comes with this way of breeding is an extended vase life. "We have done some vase life tests in Miami and on average, they lasted around 5 to 6 days longer than regular roses", he says. "And this long vase life is a very important feature for our consumers", adds Vicente.
Just like Suntory's GM carnations, the GM roses are grown at their farm Florigene in Colombia. "We now have 24,000 plants planted. In the beginning, the majority of the flowers will have a stem length of 40 cm, but we are working with the plants to get longer stems in the future", says Cory Sanchez of Florigene.
Expanding markets and assortment
For now, Applause is available on the North American market through Fresca Farms. They've been supplying their customers with this blue rose for about three weeks now and, according to Vicente, the acceptance of the variety is very good. If the demand picks up and increases, they are planning to expand their production and launch it in other parts of the country, explains Cory Sanchez. Another future plan is adding new colors. "The idea is to develop more varieties in the same tone, just like we have in the carnation", says Matsumura.
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