In Lottum the stretch of farmland between the village and the river is quite large compared to other villages along the Meuse River and extremely suitable for tree cultivation.
Initially, people were mainly engaged in grafting fruit trees. The food supply through fruit was more important than ornamental cultivation and the yield was therefore higher.
At the end of the 19th century, developments were favourable for ornamental plant cultivation (floriculture).
A.Deusser, Lottum, seen from Arcen, with low hanging fog, evening landscape at the Meuse, 1918 copyright Deusser Stiftung
The first roses were grown in Lottum around 1875.
Lottum got its own train stop, and at the station a rose bed was created to promote the rose.
The Lottum fruit growers had little trouble applying the method of grafting (fruit) onto (budding) roses. Moreover, starting as a rose grower did not require large monetary investments. Even mechanisation required minimal investments: plant shovel, budding knife, hoe.
If, after years of investing in crossing roses (by pollination), a grower manages to grow a new suitable rose, he will have it patented.
Any other grower who then wants to include this variety in his range for multiplication (by budding), must then pay ‘patent’ (a set amount) to the patent holder (the ‘inventor’ of that rose).
In Lottum, few if any new varieties were developed. Fortunately, the first Lottum rose growers recognised the importance of good relations with the trade, as they depended on other rose growers introducing new varieties to the market to renew their assortment.
Budding is the insertion of a dormant bud of the rose variety to be propagated into a wild rootstock.
This method was first used in France in 1849. ‘Rosa canina’ was often used as rootstock.
Over the years, many new rootstocks have entered the market.
A budding knife is used to insert the bud. In the bark of the rootstock, one makes a T-cut. This is opened to both sides with the blade, after which the bud can be slid behind the bark onto the wood of the rootstock. In the past, the graft was tied off with raffia. Shortly after WWII, raffia was scarce and rubber strips were used. In the early 1950s, the ‘Fleischhauer’ came onto the market; a wide rubber strap with a staple through it.
The number of rose growers around Lottum has dropped dramatically compared to the years of flowering.
There are a number of reasons for this.
As the number of growers grew, so did production. When, partly as a result of the oil crisis in 1973, sales stopped, this led to overproduction and prices below the cost price, causing several growers to cease cultivation.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the Western European market was opened up to roses from the Eastern Bloc. Production in Poland and Hungary, in particular, was considerably cheaper than in and around Lottum, resulting in a deteriorating competitive position.
Due to the switch from soil to substrate cultivation of greenhouse roses, the cultivation of semi annual rose bushes for greenhouse rose cultivation disappeared.
Decreasing margins necessitated an increase in scale that required investment to mechanize as many operations as possible. For many older growers, this was a reason to quit.
Despite the greatly reduced number of growers, rose cultivation is still an important industry in and around Lottum. Especially the cultivation of potted roses has grown strongly in recent years. More and more shrub roses are also coming on the market, which can be produced considerably cheaper by means of cuttings than the roses traditionally propagated by oculating.