The east of Scotland’s daffodil fields still look like a mass of thick green pencils, but annual flower harvest has finally started.
It will be another few days before the 14 farmer members of Grampian Growers swing into full production with more than 100 workers picking by hand on many of the farms.
But managing director, Mark Clark was yesterday relieved that production was under way after a long cold spell delayed an anticipated early start to the season.
“I issued a report to producers three weeks ago in which I predicted we’d be in full production in early March, but since then the weather has been cold and everything has stopped growing, so we’ve been sitting twiddling our thumbs and waiting for the weather to change,” he said.
“We’ve missed out a bit because in a great year for Scottish daffodils the season lasts eight weeks. The weather setback means it has been reduced to five or six weeks, but that’s still good,” he said.
The climax of the season is the Easter market and an early Easter is usually good news for the growers who produce 6-7million bunches a year as well as 1100 acres of bulbs.
All the flowers are transported to the cooperative’s Montrose base for quality control, then they’re batched for sale to supermarkets or export markets in Germany, France, Holland, Scandinavia and the United States.
The British daffodil season starts in Cornwall and Jersey and is followed by Lincolnshire before Scotland comes on stream. However the natural seasonal slot for Scottish daffodils is becoming squeezed because Cornish growers have extended their season by growing later maturing varieties.
Mr Clark said that while the cost of producing daffodils has steadily increased over the past 10 years, the retail price has remained almost unchanged, with a bunch of up to 20 stems costing £1 in supermarkets.