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Heatwave is keeping European growers busy

Record temperatures in Europe! For several weeks, it has been very hot and dry in many parts of the continent. Both records in drought and in temperature are being broken and the weather is keeping growers - in the open field in particular - very busy.

(Source picture: Bundes deutscher Baumschulen (BdB))

If you were to take a road trip through Europe these days, it would become clear that big parts of the continent are in the grip of weather extremes. Both drought and heat are causing fields to run yellow, crops to dry out and plants to let go of their flowers. But how is the professional industry coping with the weather circumstances? While the open field crops in many areas of Germany are damaged, British sunflowers are thriving this year. Open field production of pot hydrangeas in Denmark is also still doing well.  

Wonky Flowers
Taking a look in the British super market chain Morrisons, you might find some unusual bouquets. The retail chain has started to sell 'Wonky Flowers': flowers that haven't developed properly due to the dry and hot weather conditions. It's the first time the supermarket has introduced these bouquets into the supermarket, after the sales off wonky vegetables.

British Sunflowers and Statice, also known as sea lavender, are the first wonky varieties on offer. They have shorter stems due to the lack of rain over the last few weeks.

They're cheaper than the standard bouquets on offer, too. The Sunflower bouquet is priced at £3, compared to £5 for the normal version. 'It would be a shame to see these beautiful stems go to waste just because they're a few centimetres too short,' Drew Kirk, from Morrisons, said.

The British growers aren't the only ones coping with the hot and dry circumstances. A recent survey, conducted by the Bundes deutscher Baumschulen (BdB) among its members, revealed that the heat is causing problems for many German nurseries, particularly in the west, north and east of Germany. Both the open field woody crops and the production in pots in the field are sometimes heavily affected by the heat and the ongoing droughts. In total, about 20,000 hectares is affected.

As a result of the damage, BdB expects a shortage in the market. "This will affect the prices of our trees, which will increase on a broad scale," says BdB President Helmut Selders about the current situation, adding: "Direct damage to the plants is joined by other price drivers such as the increased labor costs for the irrigation and rising energy costs".

Bumper crop
The British sunflowers, however, are enjoying a bumper crop this year thanks to the heatwave, reports Waitrose. The flowers that are harvested for this retailer are grown in the Lincolnshire Fens, near Spalding, and are thriving. The sales at the store have increased as well. Nicola Wall, Waitrose flower buyer, says: “Sunflowers love the sun and these summertime favourites are proving very popular this year, with annual sales up 46% at Waitrose. As we enjoy the blistering heatwave, the sunflower crop is thriving and we expect the admiration of these beautiful flowers to continue as customers add a touch of sunshine to their homes and gardens.”

The open field production of pot hydrangeas in Denmark is not suffering either. The weather is a bit hotter than usual and hydrangea breeder and grower Soren Schroll of Schroll Flowers is pleased with the weather. "Last year, we had a cold summer and this year, the weather is nice and warmer. The production is about the same compared to last year. The only challenge we might encounter is when it becomes too hot. Then, the demand will decline."

And one of the hottest areas in Europe is currently found in Spain and Portugal, with temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius on August 5. Schroll also finishes hydrangeas in Portugal, but fortunately the production over there is still doing well too. “Just over the last days it has become that hot, we have to see how it will continue.”

Whilst growers try to cope with the circumstances, there are no numbers yet of the flower and plants sales. However, while consumers are striving to keep their plants alive, the drought might offer some sales opportunities for the upcoming seasons as well.

Publication date: 8/6/2018
Author: Elita Vellekoop



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