Wet weather in Europe may be bonus for UK rose firms

Opportunities for UK rose growers to increase exports are opening up, according to a prominent wholesale rose grower.

Whartons Nurseries managing director Robert Wharton has heard from growers across Continental Europe that supply of field-grown roses for autumn 2008 and spring 2009 is down by 15 to 20 per cent.

The shortfall has been caused by wet weather during the 2007 budding season, leading to low levels of "bud take", especially in France, Holland and Germany.

Wharton said: "When the rise of the euro against the pound is also taken into account, it can be seen why the export market is opening up to UK growers."

However, Fryer's Nurseries managing director Gareth Fryer reported low bud takes in the UK as well, compounded by high winds.

He said: "Our percentage of bud take hasn't been as good as normal. The crop is going well now but we will probably be down 10 per cent on quantity when we are lifting at the end of the season."

Yet, frustratingly, consumer demand for roses is currently very high, according to Fryer. "All of a sudden roses have become so popular. I wish I'd known. It's the briskest season for 15-20 years."

David Austin Roses technical manager Michael Marriott admitted that supplies of its UK grafted stock were "potentially a bit short this year".

He added: "We're trying to buy some in. Prices are fairly high. If the quality is good we are happy to buy them in from anywhere."

Marriott said exporting to the Continent might be difficult because UK growers use Grade 1 rootstocks bearing two to three stems, but countries such as France sell rootstocks with five to six stems per plant so might not accept UK-grown roses.

Potted roses take three years to be produced, from initial field preparation to delivery.


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