Product Specification

Product code: 1705

October 2020
This product specification applies to all members of the Dutch Flower Auction Association (VBN) and Rhein-Maas. This publication or any part therein may not be made public or reproduced in any form, by print, photocopy, microfilm or any other means, without first obtaining written permission from the publisher (The Dutch Flower Auction Association).

The quality criteria listed below apply to all species, varieties and cultivars that are supplied as cut flowers intended for direct use by the consumer and are supplied and traded at auctions belonging to the Association of Dutch Flower Auctions (VBN) and the Rhein-Maas Auction.

All products traded at the auctions are intended exclusively for decorative purposes and are not intended for internal consumption unless otherwise expressly mentioned on the product. Incorrect application, consumption, contact with and/or sensitivity to the products can lead to harmful consequences for humans and/or animals.

These regulations have arisen in response to requirements regarding quality, grading, packing and descriptions. These requirements can only be diverged from if this is expressly agreed between the grower and buyer and if this agreement has been drawn up by the intermediary agency of a VBN auction. All products traded through the VBN auctions, without there being a specific agreement between grower and buyer, should meet the minimum requirements set out below.
If the products do not meet these requirements, they will not be traded and, where necessary, destroyed.

Minimum Requirements for Trade
Internal Quality
Pre-treatment General


  • A quantity of cut flowers are required to be pre-treated. The product specifications indicate whether and which pre-treatment is required or recommended.
  • Cut flowers without any further product specific requirements and supplied on water in a cut flower container must be pre-treated using pre-treatment  containing the active ingredient sodium dichlorisocyanurate (code 11 on the label of the product), 1 tablet per 3 litres of water. Except for Protea where it is required to pre-treat with: Chrysal Grow 40 (code 40 on the label) or Florissant 830 (code 41 on the label).
  • The products Deutzia, Philaldelphus and Spiraea don’t need to be pre-treated.

Pre-treatment with STS

Pre-treatment with Chlorine or Aluminium Sulfate

Pre-treatment Specific

Decorative greens

Berry shrubs

  • If supplied in a cut flower container, it is mandatory to pretreat berry shrubs and supply them in water with a pretreatment agent containing the active ingredient sodium dichloroisocyanurate (code 11 on the agent’s label). Dosage: 1 chlorine tablet per 3 liters.
  • Symphoricarpos may also be pretreated with a pretreatment agent containing the active ingredient aluminium sulphate (code 3 on the label), with the application conforming to the instructions for use.    

The products Aronia and Weigela don’t need to be pre-treated.

External Quality
Minimum Quality General
Maturity General
  • The lowest minimum maturity requirement means that the inflorescence has to have reached minimum development as shown in photo stage 1.
  • The greatest maximum maturity requirement means that the flowers should show no sign of ageing or of having finished flowering. This stage is more mature than what is shown in photo 5.
Maturity Specific

Berry shrubs
The minimal maturity requirement is that at least 95% of the lot must consist of branches with flowers that have reached the following development stage:

  • Berry shrubs (except for Leycesteria): at least 75% of the flower consists of berries;
  • Leycesteria: the main spike consists of at least 75% well matured, red berries.

If this requirement is not met, the product will not be marketed.

Edible Products

The rules given below apply to products that are suitable for consumption at the time of trading.


         Potentially edible products that are traded as ‘not for consumption’ 

Quality and Grading Criteria
Quality and Grading Criteria
Quality and Grading Criteria per Batch

Batches offered for auction must meet the requirements below (in order to be traded as A1).

Requirements and Quality Comments

If a batch shows a deviation from one or more of the mentioned requirements, the batch can be auctioned with a qualification (and pertaining inspection code). The seriousness of the deviation determines whether the batch is traded:

  • without a negative qualification;
  • with a minor comment (an even inspection code);
  • with a serious comment (an odd inspection code).

A comment is given on the basis of the tables below.

Overview 1: negative comments for deviations from the requirements mentioned in quality and grading criteria', except for the deviations mentioned in overview 2.

% of no. stems in batch

deviation to a slight degree

deviation to a heavy degree

less than 5%

no comment

minor comment

5 – 25%

minor comment

serious comment

more than 25%

serious comment

do not trade

Overview 2: negative comments for deviations involving miner leaf.

% of no. stems in batch

deviation to a slight degree

deviation to a heavy degree

less than 5%

minor comment

serious comment

5% and up

serious comment

serious comment

If the grade differs 1 class, a slight or moderate deviation is indicated. A serious deviation is indicated in grades differing 2 or more classes. This does not hold for products that must be sorted on the basis of maturity and the maturity stage must be specified in the grading code. If, in those cases, the maturity is incorrectly specified in the grading code, this will be corrected and the auction may impose sanctions.
Additional Grading Requirements per Batch General
Grading by Length
Grading by Weight
Flowers are graded in weight classes of 1, 2, 5 or 10 grams, depending on the product.The weight grade is given during trading by using characteristics code S21. The average stem weight in the batch determines the grade to be indicated.
Grading by Maturity
  • Sorting on maturity is given during trading by using characteristics code S05. The spread of maturity within the lot is shown, whereby the second figure denotes the lowest maturity occurring in the lot (1, 2, 3, 4 or 5), while the third figure indicates the greatest maturity found in the lot (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
  • When maturity codes are being used, no inspection codes will be provided in reference to maturity or differences in maturity.
  • When maturity codes are not being used, inspection codes can be used in reference to maturity or differences in maturity.
  • With those products where the usual maturity coding is not applicable (for instance seed boxes), code 099 (not applicable) should be used.

The table below is provided to illustrate this:


Minimum maturity




Maximum maturity



Can be traded


Not to be traded

Maturity stage 1

Maturity stage 2

Maturity stage 3

Maturity stage 4

Maturity stage 5

Not to be traded

Overview 3: sortering on maturity

Maturity stage

Maturity codes S05



























Grading by another Characteristic

Depending of the product a grading according to other aspects may occur, such as number of buds, length of inflorescence, flower diameter, cultivation method, shape of cutflowers, number of clusters etc.

Number of flower buds:

Length of inflorescence:

Quality Criteria per Batch

Decorative greens; the following additional requirements apply:

  • The braches must be free of flowers and/or flower buds. Ornamental grasses with ears are permitted;
  • The use of leaf shine is permitted, provided the leaf surfaces of the whole lot are being treated.    
Grading Criteria per Batch Specific
Decorative greens
It is mandatory for decorative greens to be sorted on length.
In addition, Corylus and Salix must be sorted on age or year (date) of the wood in 4 classes in accordance with overview below.

Year of the branches Grading code S33
1-year wood 001
2-year wood 002
3-year wood 003
perennial wood 004

Monstera leaves must be graded according to diameter. The diameter is determined by measuring the greatest width of the leaf perpendicular to the midrib and rounding off to whole centimetres. Grading into classes in conformance with table below.

leaf diameter (in cm) grading code S34
10 – 14 010
15 – 19 015
20 – 22 020
23 – 26 023
27 – 34 027
35 – 44 035
45 – 54 045
55 and larger 055

Berry shrubs
Mandatory grading requirements for Berry shrubs concern:

Grading Codes Specific
1S20Minimum length of flower stemRequired
2S21Weight (average)Advised
5L11Number of stems per bunchRequired
Requirements for Mixed Lots
The lot may be designated ‘mixed’ if at least three clearly distinguishable colors/shapes per bunch or per packaged unit are present. One color or shape can form no more than 50% of the number of cutflowers in the lot. The mix ratio between reciprocal the bunches and the packaging units in each lot should be uniform.
Quality Groups Based on Inspection Codes
Inspection Codes

Cut flowers are traded in 3 quality groups: A1, A2 and B1, depending on the extent to which they meet the quality and grading criteria. The degree to which the batch meets the quality and grading criteria is expressed in negative comments accompanying the batch.


negative inspectioncode K01/K02

minor comment

even code

serious comment

odd code

Division into Quality Groups

Quality codes

Quality group

No quality code (0)


1 even quality code (minor remark)


2 even quality codes


1 uneven quality code or


1 uneven quality code and 1 even quality code


Except quality codes:

149 (shrinkers)

495 (water stems)

613 (botrytis in inflorescene)

615 (botrytis leaf)

905 (rejected)

Not traded

2 uneven quality codes

Not traded

except minimum 1 code starting with 7 of 8


All other combinations

Not traded


the quality codes below are to be interpreted as even codes:

the quality codes underneath are to be interpreted as uneven codes:


Discoloured flower edges


Single crimpers




Single water stalk


Open flower hearts


Some botrytis in Roses


Wet flowers


Single botrytis in inflorescence


Discoloured flowers


Single botrytis on leaves


Deep in leaves


Double stalks


Bent branches/stalks


Twisted stalks


Point/cut leaves


Incorrectly bunched


Incorrect sleeve


Unequal in colour


Unequal mixed


Insufficient mix


Light lot

Packing Requirements
Packing Requirements General
Packing Requirements Specific
Decorative greens must:
  • be sold, depending on the product, per stem, in bunches of 5, 10 or 25 stems, per bunch or per kilogramme;
  • be supplied, depending on the product, mandatory or not, in bundles;
  • if they are bundled, they must be supplied in bundles of 5 bunches;
  • be packed, depending on the product, per bunch or per bundles in sleeves;
  • be supplied, depending on the product, in a cut flower container or in a box, whereby these containers/boxes have to be full.

Monstera leaves should be supplied in packaging units 566 or 577, with loading following the prescriptions per packaging unit given in table 2 according to leaf diameter. 

loading Monstera leaf

grading by leaf diameter number per package
10 120
15 100
20 80
23 80
27 70
35 60
45 40
55 30

If the product has such a heavy structure that the aforementioned requirements cannot be met without the product suffering damage as a result, it may be possible to deviate from the packaging requirements following consultations with and permission from the authorised auction inspector.

Berry shrubs must:

Overview 1

Product Stems per bunch Bundling Put in sleeve Package
Aralia per item 5 or 10 voluntary voluntary container
Callicarpa 5 voluntary voluntary container
Celastrus 5 voluntary voluntary container/box/loose
Crocosmia berries 10 voluntary voluntary container
Eucalyptus berries 10 voluntary voluntary Container
Eucalyptus berries per bunch per bunch voluntary voluntary container
Hedera berries 10 voluntary voluntary container
Hippophae 5 voluntary voluntary Container
Leycesteria 10 voluntary voluntary container
Ligustrum berries 10 voluntary voluntary Container
Ligustrum berries per bunch per bunch voluntary voluntary container
Malus on branches 5 or loose voluntary voluntary Container
Myrtus berries 10 voluntary voluntary Container
Pernettya 5 voluntary voluntary container
Pistacia berries 10 voluntary voluntary Container
Rosa (Roseship) 10 voluntary voluntary container
Rubus 10 voluntary voluntary Container
Symphoricarpos 10 voluntary voluntary container

If the product has such a heavy structure that the aforementioned requirements cannot be met without the product suffering damage as a result, it may be possible to deviate from the packaging requirements following consultations with and permission from the authorised auction inspector.

Loading General
Loading Specific
Decorative greens and Berry shrubs
Depending on the number of stems per bunch and the bundling, loading should be done in conformance with overview below:

Number of stems per bunch Bundled Number of stems per cut flower container
5 yes 25, 50, 75, 100 etc.
5 no 5, 15, 25, 35 etc.
10 yes 50, 100, 150, 200, etc.
10 no 20, 40, 60, 80, etc.
Indentification Requirements
Consignment Note

Every stacking cart must be accompanied by a fully and correctly filled-in consignment note containing at least the following information provided by the supplier:

Product Label

It's obligatory to label every packaging unit(e.g. bucket, box) with product andsuppliers information, namely:

It is advised to add the grading codes and the name of the supplier as well.

Lot Photo

It is mandatory to accompany lots with a representative lot photo.

Genetically Modified Products

Genetically modified products must be made identifiable as such by means of correct indication of their GM nature in the product information.

Recommendations General

If the above requirements are not met, the auction reserves the right to impose a penalty.

Abnormal growth
Imperfections in the flower, leaf and/or stem parts resulting from disorders during growth/culture.
Active ingredient code
For the sake of clarity, pre-treatment agents are coded according to their active ingredients. The code is printed on the label.
Bent necks
The uppermost part of the stem under the flower, drooping downward.
Berry shrubs
Berry shrubs are defined as all products with flowers that develop into berries which are marketed as cut flowers, with the exception of Ilex, Hypericum and Viburnum.
Berry shrubs without leaves
The stem must have absolutely no leaves.
Berry shrybs without thorns
At least the bottom 50% of the stem must be free of thorns or up to the first branch on the stem.

A colour distiguished by Floricode as mentioned in the VBN-product codes.
Colour uniformity
The batch must be composed in such a way that the selling units are uniform in terms of colour composition.
Cut flowers
The term "cut flowers" also includes ornamental green twigs and cut shrubs.
Damaged leaf-, flower or plant parts resulting from jolting, bruising, pinching, cutting, etc.
Decoratieve greens
Decorative greens are taken to mean all products that derive their decorative value from the leaves, the branches and/or the spikes (ears) and that are sold as cut flowers, with the exception of Acacia, Asparagus setaceus, Chamelaucium uncinatum, Monstera blad (Swiss Cheese Plant), Ruscus and Viburnum.
Aberrant colouring in flower and/or leaf resulting from a shortage of nutrients.
Do not trade
The product does not meet the requirements for trade. Depending on the situation, the supplier is given the opportunity to improve the product to such a degree that it can still be traded, or the product is destroyed.
The state of the cut flower in which it looks fresh,showing healthy colour in flower and leaf, is not limp and shows no signs of ageing, as far as can be perceived by the eye.
The undermost thickened and dark-coloured part of the stem which cannot easily absorb water.
Leaf point
Dying-off of plant cells on the top of a leaf larger than 2 mm.
The first stage of the flower opening up.
All organisms which are harmful to the cut flower and/or plant, such as insects, mildew/fungus, bacteria, viruses, etc.
Plastic greenhouse/tunnel
Cultivation for the entire period done under a plastic greenhouse/tunnel.
Product specifications
This contains the rules that products must be met in order to be traded at the VBN auctions. Product specifications consist of a general specification and a product-specific appendix for each crop or crop group. There are supportive images to show stages of maturity or thickness. The product specifications are listed on
Quality codes
Quality codes specify certain lot characteristics. It could be a grading code, e.g. S05 Maturity stage. There are also commercial characteristics such as K07 Other supplier's information. The characteristics with their affiliated codes can be found on Each product code specifies which quality remarks/quality codes are required and/or advised and in which order the grading codes should be supplied.
Residue and/or contaminants
Residue from crop protection agents and/or lime residue and/or other deposits on flower- and leaf parts.
Roll greenhouse
Cultivation partly done under a roll greenhouse during the cultivation period.
Shade cloth
Cultivation done under a gauze for the entire period.
The (generative) shoots which must be removed (disbudded) in some cases.
Shrinker, shrunk flower
Ethylene damage to the flower, causing it to wilt at an early stage.
Under glass
Cultivation for the entire period done under glass.
Visible remnants of main flower
Remnants of the (final stage of the) main flower after removal, rendering a negative influence on the ornamental value.
Visually free of parasites
The whole cutflower and/or plant, as far as can be perceived by the eye, has no animal and/or plant parasites. This means without shaking or beating the cutflower or plant.