Jun 13, 2023
SAF adds breeder category to Outstanding Varieties Competition

The Society of American Florists is expanding its Outstanding Varieties Competition. The competition, which takes place during SAF’s Annual Convention, will now include new or limited availability varieties from breeders, in an effort to help them get valuable feedback on potential market appeal.
At the association’s 138th Annual Convention, SAF Phoenix 2023, attendees will vote on the breeder entries, some of which are known as “codes,” and new varieties that are on the market with very limited availability, to determine a “People’s Choice” winner.
Ana Ramirez, of the breeder and grower Danziger, says the new breeder category will not only enable them to get feedback on their newest developments, but will also give the market a glimpse of what’s coming in 2024.
“It helps to close the gap between the breeder and what the market is looking for,” Ramirez said. “People will have an opportunity to see what is going to come and what breeders are working on.” In addition to entering in the new category, Danziger will continue entering the growers category, noting that participating is a valuable part of their marketing strategy each year.
Martin Meskers, AAF, president and CEO of Oregon Flowers, knows firsthand the benefits of entering the competition. Last year his salmon-colored Oriental Trumpet lily ‘Zelmira’ won “Best in Show” and Oregon Flowers has since seen an uptick in sales for that variety.
While winning drew attention to his company and helped sales, Meskers said entering the contest is worthwhile because it provides valuable information and helps make connections throughout the industry.
“We want to grow the flowers that the customers want,” he said. “It is a lot easier to sell them something that they want, but sometimes it is difficult to know one, two, three years in advance when we are buying bulbs. “We get that information firsthand by talking to the retailers and getting judges’ feedback.”
For past judge Lani Callister of Ensign Wholesale Flower Market in Salt Lake City, the competition is also a moment to embrace the passion, expertise and devotion of an industry always seeking to improve. Callister is always looking for something that fills a void, or a need.
While entrants should consider market needs when choosing what to enter, Callister says varieties must also possess the outstanding characteristics including the stem, foliage, bloom size and color. She also recommended that entrants put some time and thought into the display.
“People that don’t enter really miss out on free advertising for themselves,” she said. “If their entry wins it gets a lot of attention, but I think it is important to enter every year because there is a lot of interest in what’s there along with the winners.”
For more information or to enter the Outstanding Varieties Competition, click here.

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