Kirton flower trial highlights sequential planting

Over 50 growers, retailers and young-plant suppliers visited Warwick HRI's Kirton Cut Flower Trial Centre open day earlier this month, including representatives from Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's.

Visitors viewed and discussed initial results from a Delphinium scheduling trial aiming to achieve sequential planting using different varieties. Trials of 18 other species are also being undertaken to assess programmability and continuity of supply, including annual Dianthus, Phlox, Aster ericoides, larkspur and spray carnations.

Final results will be presented at a second open day in September but initial observations suggest pinks (Dianthus plumarius) will have a "resurgence", according to project manager Lyndon Mason.

Mason said that two "new" crops of German asters and pinks have been developed by the centre with support from Waitrose and local grower Sue Lamb of Lamb's Flowers.

He said: "Pinks are obviously a 'traditional' crop but it looks like it will now have a resurgence and be introduced to a new generation of buyers."

He added: "The Delphinium scheduling trial is showing great promise and so far continuity has been achieved by a combination of different planting dates and varieties. Other subjects that are worthy of note at this stage include Phlox, protected larkspur and annual Dianthus (Sweet and Amazon), all of which are showing great promise."

Mason concluded: "The trials generated a lot of interest and could not have been instigated at a better time as the move to "buy British" moves ever higher up the political agenda."

Young Plants product manager Simon Crawford said: "I think because of the exchange rate at the moment packers such as Winchester Growers and Flamingo are looking for English cut-flower growers."

The trial was funded by the HDC and the Lincolnshire Fenlands LEADER+ programme, with support from the ornamentals industry.


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