German grower Michael Prangs

‘Energy is definitely keeping us busy’

Are you finishing up for the season?

“That’s right – our production period runs from March to the end of November. We don’t produce during winter because we don’t have any lighting in place. And the installation of assimilation lights is out of the question as the electricity rates are skyrocketing in Germany. We’re paying 19 euro cents per kWh at the moment. This has everything to do with the ‘Energiewende’, the switch from fossil energy to renewable energy, which is really big here in Germany. The costs of this transition show up on all German electricity bills in the form of a renewables surcharge. A few years ago, the surcharge was no more than half a cent per kWh, but by now it’s gone up to 6 cents. That’s not nothing! Energy is definitely keeping us busy. At our company, we’re partially heating with coal and eventually that’s going to be prohibited, too. I think that in the long run, only wood, biogas and geothermal energy will be allowed.”

You’re one of the few growers who produces the ‘Fiesta’ aren’t you?

“We’re the only Fiesta grower in Germany and the Netherlands by now. The only two other growers who are cultivating this flamed cream and pink rose are based in Africa. Around 75 percent of our acreage is planted with Fiesta, a rose that was created by breeding company Lex+. We were paying license fees initially, but we stopped doing that at the end of 2014. There aren’t too many growers who are interested in this variety because of the low yield. If we’re lucky, we harvest 90 stems per square metre. And Fiesta is tricky to grow; mildew for example, is a big problem.

Are you happy with your profits?

“We can’t complain, Fiesta is generally sold for a good price. It’s a delicate balance though: when production reaches its high point in summer, there can be quite some pressure on the prices. That’s why we don’t have any plans to expand. Our advantage is that the company is financed with relatively little external capital, so even with a small-scale production, we can still make a good living.

Do you think there’s a future for rose cultivation in Western Europe?

“Absolutely! To be honest, the quality of the roses coming from Africa, is improving. But on the other hand, most roses aren’t suitable for transportation, it reduces the quality. In addition, consumers more and more appreciate fresh plants and flowers and local produce. For this reason, I am convinced that the cultivation of roses in countries like the Netherlands and Germany will continue to exist, especially if growers focus on varieties that are hard to grow in Africa or that are difficult to transport.”

By when are you planning to take over the company from your parents?

“Probably within a few years. Getting enough staff in the future is a bit of a worry, though. Both my parents and our permanent staff member are over sixty now. We’ll need some fresh blood in the long term. And that’s easier said than done. I won’t be able to manage with just a few foreign seasonal workers, I’ll also need someone who’s had the right education and who can take on responsibilities. But such staff is hard to find, especially since the work continues on the weekends as well and the salaries aren’t too high. Staff and energy are the two most important challenges for the future.”

About Michael Prangs
Company: Prangs Roses
Location: Straelen, Germany
Acreage: 10,750 m2
Sales channels: Rhein-Maas auction, FloraHolland Naaldwijk and Rijnsburg
Assortment: cut roses (Fiesta, Deep Water, Carat, Magma and History)
Number of employees: Prangs runs the company together with his parents, Anton and Marianne. In addition, they employ one permanent staff member and typically two Romanian temporary workers during the season.