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Gipmans Planten:

Photo report: The largest vegetable propagation greenhouse in Europe

Recently Gipmans Planten expanded to over forty hectares of glass. This makes them the largest vegetable propagation nursery in the Netherlands. However, they might become even larger. Erik Gipmans: "We can expand with ten more hectares and we actually don’t want to wait too long. We grow along with our customers."

The new Gipmans Planten greenhouse. The greenhouse was built by Maurice Kassenbouw, the heating provided by Gakon and B&W is responsible for the lighting. Codema provided electricity and water, Peter Dekker Installations the screens.

Thanks to the new nursery Gipmans has grown to more than 43 hectares of glass. The nursery was established 45 years ago and focuses entirely on food horticulture: from the cultivation of field vegetable plants, warm plant cultivation and strawberry plants to the growth of herbs, and recently the cultivation of leafy vegetables on water has also been added to the activities. The latest expansion of the acreage is due to the developments in the market for greenhouse vegetables, strawberries and herbs. Erik Gipmans: “We are largely growing along with our customers. A grower who expands with 2.5 hectares for us means a growth of 50,000 plants in peak season. We also see the developments in strawberries, especially here in the region. It’s a nice market to be in – much better than to be in a declining market."

Rene Gipmans in the new greenhouse. René is the ‘chief new construction’ at Gipmans: the previous expansions were also realized under his wing.
The German market is key for Gipmans’ greenhouse vegetable plants. Erik: "Germany is our home market. We have significantly deployed in the German market. We want to keep in touch with the grower, help them to optimally do business." This strategy is paying off as evidenced by the growing sales to the eastern neighbors. But the German market is not the only important one. The company sees developments in Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia - you name it. Customers can be found as far as Greece and the company supplies them even there. Erik: "We want to keep this in our own hands. During propagation we already take transport into account and have specialists to deliver the plants so we can guarantee that it goes well." It is one of the areas in which the company makes a clear choice: top quality before being the cheapest player on the market. "You might save on transport, but that's nothing compared to the value you transport. This is a choice we continuously make. Quality is a constant priority."

Tricky corner
In terms of numbers the cucumber plant is Gipmans Planten’s biggest product, but the turnover of the tomato is the most important. Erik: "You add value to the plant by grafting and topping. This is a costly process." The company built a brand-new greenhouse last year for the first phase of the propagation process. The new greenhouse covers 30,000 meters and eventually the seeding and grafting is intended to take place here. Rene: "Then we complete the most critical stage in the most modern greenhouse." This is also a good choice for filling in the plot. "This was actually a tricky corner. Three hectares and no large areas, but a number of smaller areas. Dividing it into five divisions has made it very suitable for the initial phase of propagation." However, they are not there yet. The greenhouse was completed in November and there would not have been enough time to install all the equipment in time for the new season. "So this first year we are just going to propagate. This way we will also get to know the greenhouse."

The electricity and water space is currently being finalized.

Focus on the region
The nursery has grown with the new greenhouse to over 40 hectares. If left up to Erik, this is not the end of the construction projects. Ideally the office will be located at the front of the premises. "This can of course be constructed, but we want more. We would like to further expand with some ten hectares and we would prefer not to wait too long," he says. "Currently we rent greenhouses for certain crops so there is room for expansion."

The company is less enthusiastic about international growth although Erik sees possibilities for a branch company. "At a manageable distance, a kind of copy of what we're doing here but certainly near a growth market." Intercontinental business he finds less feasible. "It would distract from the process here. Knowledge that you are investing elsewhere you are not gathering in the Netherlands. We are focusing on our organization, our people, the plants and the process. Countries like Russia, China, Japan, Mexico? That's something for big internationals. For us as a family business it is not viable."

He prefers finding challenges in the branches that the company is already active in or related to, such as lettuce growing on water. Lettuce is currently being produced in four ponds and tests are being carried out in a further two ponds. "We are now getting the hang of it. Next we will look at other leafy vegetables on water. It’s looking positive. So you see that a lot can still be done right here." This is what keeps it fun for Gipmans. "Every day is different. In recent years we have learned a lot about strawberry plants, also a growing market. In tomato cultivation we figured out how truss height affects production. By consistently working on these things you continue to learn each season. This is how we take it one step further every year."

Check out the photo report of the new greenhouse here.

For more information:
Gipmans Planten
Jos Gipmans
Bultenvenweg 30
5916 RW Venlo
T: 077 320 21 60
F: 077 351 13 99
E: [email protected]

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