Bulb growers see autumn hope

Poor bedding plant season and better summer weather raise prospects for autumn bulb sales.

Late summer and autumn could be a big opportunity for bulbs sales if the weather improves, a Lincolnshire grower has said.

Speaking at the Taylors Bulbs open day in Holbeach last week, director Adam Taylor told visiting garden centre representatives that bad weather had resulted in a very slow season.

"We are not immune to the weather and it has affected harvesting in quite a big way," he said. "The lifting procedure has been very wet. It is taking twice as long to get the bulbs out of the ground and the drying process, which normally takes four to five days is taking twice as long."

However, this year's poor season for bedding plants and a potential spell of good weather could combine to boost sales of bulbs in the coming months, Taylor suggested.

"When bedding looks good people don't want to pull it up to plant bulbs. There is a real opportunity for us. People are talking about an Indian summer and there are people who want to garden. We just need some good weather and we'll be fine," he said.

Johnny Walkers, whose company Johnny Walkers Bulbs was incorporated into Taylors in 1992, told the visitors that the wet weather could cause the skins on tulip bulbs to split.

"The skin will be a problem this year. Tulips have very thin skin that dries at a faster rate than the bulbs. It is basically a problem of storage and it can get too warm," he explained.

He recommended storing bulbs in relatively dry conditions at humidity levels of 60-70 per cent, with good ventilation and no temperature extremes. The ideal temperature is 16-17 degsC, he said.

Display ideas Garden centre advice

Grouping together best-selling varieties, colour blocking and promoting particular lines such as British-grown or bee-friendly bulbs were among ideas suggested to garden centres by Taylor sales and marketing coordinator Ian Clark and account manager for the south of England Duncan Witt.

Representatives from centres around the country attended the grower's open day, held at its 758ha site in Lincolnshire.

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