Growers keep eyes on weather

After record bank holiday sales, growers hope for an extended season to compensate for poor spring.

Growers saw record takings during the May bank holiday weekend
Growers saw record takings during the May bank holiday weekend

Summer bedding growers have seen sales pick up significantly as the weather has improved, but say it is difficult to predict how the season will turn out.

Bad weather caused a poor start to the season, but many growers saw record takings during the May bank holiday weekend.

"The weather has definitely helped us," said Arden Lea director Stuart Taylor. "We can see sales picking up, but in the north-west we're still quite affected by the weather.

"In Lancashire, we've had a couple of days where it has felt like summer, but it has still had that edge. We're still behind. It's not sorted, but it is better than it was."

He added: "It's difficult to predict what the final score will be. It was looking disastrous at one point and now it's looking less disastrous. I can't remember a more difficult year to predict. We need to keep our eyes down and hope the weather will stabilise."

WD Smith & Son director Mike Smith added: "We had 10 days last year and it's felt like we've had a bit longer this year. Fingers crossed it will carry on for a few more weeks yet. We've had a good couple of weeks.

"It was a shame about March, but April and May are the important ones. April worked out all right and if it can carry on to the end of May and even into June, that's great."

He added: "We needed it to start and carry on because we haven't had too much money coming in for a while."

Some growers are hoping for an extended season to make up for the slow start.

Botany Bay managing director Jamie Ratcliffe said: "We're growing crops to try to extend the season. We're a young plant producer and normally our finished product is in plug form to sell to other growers. We're growing some plants in one- or two-litre pots to sell to garden centres."

He said there was still the potential for plant shortages. "In the autumn, the time we normally get pre-orders, the level of these orders was very low. If the good weather continues, there will be a shortage of bedding plants, and we're hoping to cash in on that. We have enough to cater for our customers and will look after them first, but with new businesses calling up maybe not."

Comment - BPOA chairman Ian Riggs

"Recent good gardening weather has lifted grower spirits, and garden centres have noted record or near record takings during the May bank holiday weekend when the weather held.

"But to negate the poor start, growers need almost perfect weather for the remainder of the summer. Of concern is that recent weather has not been good. Of more concern is that the mid- to long-term weather forecast is not optimistic as it appears the Gulf stream and weather pattern look to be following the same pattern as 2012.

"As usual, both growers and garden centres are looking forward to the 'Chelsea Bounce' next week, especially as Chelsea precedes the bank holiday, but again we all need the weather to play its part and be fine."

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