The UK is 50 per cent self-sufficient in ornamentals in terms of value - £1,166m in 2014, down by four per cent on the previous year - according to the Rural Business Research (RBR) Farm Business Survey on Horticulture Production in England 2014-15, published last month. Imports were £1.119m - up by £25m, or two per cent.
Cut roses were £163m of the imports (15 per cent), cut chrysanthemums £109m (10 per cent), indoor plants £136m (12 per cent) and bulbs £82m (seven per cent). Non-edible exports were £59m, down by £6m on 2013. Cut-flower exports were £24m and bulbs were £7m.
Average farm business income for hardy nursery stock growers rose to £40,000 - up around 16 per cent. Specialist ornamental glasshouse growers saw average income rise from just over £40,000 to £44,000. Glasshouse fuel costs fell by 30 per cent, although casual labour costs increased by a similar amount. Specialist glass (nine per cent) and specialist hardy nursery stock (16 per cent) businesses increased profitability.
The non-edible area represented seven per cent (11,996ha) of total horticultural area but generated 39 per cent of output from horticulture. The flowers and bulbs category was one per cent of horticultural output. Hardy nursery stock was 27 per cent and protected non-edibles 11 per cent. Overall output fell by three per cent, slightly offset by a similar fall in variable costs (four per cent) and fixed costs remaining largely unchanged.
RBR, the consortium of universities behind the farm business survey, publishes findings from a sample that covers 5.6 per cent of English horticulture businesses every year.
Chief executive officer Professor Paul Wilson said: "Arguably the largest political issue over recent decades, the EU referendum represents the greatest uncertainty." Farm businesses need to plan ahead and focus on financial margins because of recent price volatility, he added. For full details, see www.ruralbusinessresearch.co.uk.