Main content area

Euro-trials: the first example of international co-operation in plant trials

Houtman, R.
Acta horticulturae 2013 no.980 pp. 23-27
Buddleja, Hibiscus syriacus, Hydrangea paniculata, Vinca, Weigela, committees, cultivars, gardeners, growers, horticulture, industry, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, United Kingdom
In January 2003, co-operation between the Netherlands, Germany, France and the United Kingdom in trialling plants was established. Participating organisations must be independent and not directly tied to industry. In this way, the highest levels of objectivity can be and are maintained. It is more meaningful to co-operate and trial the same plants at the same time under different climatic and cultural circumstances. However, results must be exchangeable. Euro-trials also open new avenues of co-operation between independent research institutes and societies. When starting new Euro-trials, other organisations will coordinate these by rotation. In this way the work will be spread evenly over all participating organisations. All organisations have trial committees that consist of growers, traders and gardeners. Of course each organisation carries out trials according to their own standards. After the trials have ended, one report is published in English. This report contains all the results from all participants so that readers are able to see the results per cultivar in one view. In addition to the international report, all participants are free to write publications according to their own tradition. It was agreed that Hydrangea paniculata cultivars would be the first group to be trialled internationally. It was a good project to set the precedent for future Euro-trials. During the trials, specific scoring "trends" could be determined in all participating countries. It is impossible to have all existing cultivars in a trial. In the final report, all cultivars not represented in the trial, will be mentioned as "not assessed". Now Euro-trials have finished their first international trial and are currently working on three more trials, the participants are eager to continue the process. Currently three more Euro-trials have taken place or are currently running: Buddleja, Weigela and Vinca. A Euro-trial of Hibiscus syriacus is being prepared. Following the success of the first Euro-trial, other countries have shown interest in participating. Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Finland have subsequently decided to join Euro-trials. Each year the participants hold an annual meeting. During these meetings all possible Euro-trials related topics are discussed, as well as proposed new trial subjects. Euro-trials are gradually developing into a highly effective co-operation between leading horticultural organisations in Europe. The mutual goal, to test and publish objective information about the best cultivars for different parts of Europe, is steadily being reached.