Time is running out for specialist daffodil producers who are still waiting for their crop to ripen more than three weeks behind schedule.
The 13 producer members of Montrose-based Grampian Growers, who rely on premium sales of flowers at Easter and Mother’s Day, have seen the key dates come and go, yet some of the latest-ripening varieties are still not through the ground.
Company managing director Mark Clark said the growers had lost out on almost three weeks of export sales to Scandinavia and the business is now focusing instead on selling to the UK supermarkets.
“At this time last year we were picking two and a half or three truckloads of flowers a day, each with 130,000 bunches,” he said.
“Yesterday we picked 45,000 bunches, barely a third of a truck. But if we can pick a million bunches a week over the next few weeks we will still be OK, although the margins will be smaller as export prices tend to be higher than the fixed price offered by the supermarkets.”
He said there was still potential to sell the 83% of the crop that’s still slowly maturing in the fields, but the retail market would take a big knock if the weather gets warm.
“If the sun is shining people go out for walks and see daffodils in parks and gardens so they stop buying them in the supermarkets. However if it stays cold they carry on buying. We now need luck to capitalise on the potential,” he said.
Growers are facing a double whammy as bulb yields have already been compromised by the late season.
The daffodil bulb does not start to grow until the flower has bloomed so growers have a finite time between the end of flowering and lifting the bulbs.
“Growers need income from both streams to make it profitable but they make more from bulbs than flowers,” said Mr Clark.