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Rose grower Sachin Appachu, Bliss Flora:
Kenya: High altitude farms affected by cold weather"Hopefully the roses will be ready for Women's Day", says Sachin Appachu, general manager at Kenyan rose farm Bliss Flora. For several weeks now, high altitude farms like Bliss Flora are dealing with unusual cold temperatures, which puts the roses on hold, and resulted in a 20 to 25 percent drop in production. Fortunately, and probably due to the lower supply from these high altitude farms, the rose prices for this year's Valentine's Day, February 14, were fairly good among most varieties. "So, for Valentine's, we ended at the same level as last year", says Appachu.
Sachin Appachu in the greenhouse.
20 to 25 percent drop in production
January and February are the summer months in Kenya. "Even without flushing the crop, the production usually increases by 15-20 percent", says Appachu. However, this year, the weather was quite unusual, which delayed the production cycle of the higher altitude farms. "Our farm is situated in Njoro, Nakuru, on an altitude of 2,400 meters above sea level. At night, we had and still have temperatures of around 2 Degrees Celsius, instead of 8, and at daytime about 20 Degrees Celsius, instead of 30." Due to these colder temperatures, it takes longer for the crop to develop and the flowers to open. "They just do not want to open. Even the flowers that were planned for harvest this Valentine's Day are not even open today and we hope to get them for Women's Day, which is celebrated on March 8." And not only Bliss Flora that is dealing with this situation. "I spoke to some other high altitude growers and they are dealing with the same problem. We are all just trying to keep as much heat inside the greenhouse by closing the side vents during the day time."
The lower altitude growers, in contrast, are experiencing unusual high temperatures. They have days where the temperatures are reaching 40 Degrees Celsius at day time." However, this is not an ideal situation either", says Appachu. "They are dealing water scarcity, which is affecting the quality of the crop. On top of that, I've heard that there are farms in Naivasha that dropped their production due to the fluctuating weather conditions."
Top performer Ever Red
The lower production volumes of the high altitude farms might have contributed to the higher prices at the auction in the Netherlands this Valentine's Day. Also Bliss Flora, who mainly supplies the auction in the Netherlands, was pleased with the prices. "From my perspective, the prices were reasonably good", says Appachu. "The colored roses did not so well, but we have a top performer in the reds; the Ever Red of breeder Royal De Ruiter. The prices for this variety were about 20 percent higher than our other three red varieties, who also performed well and received similar prices like last year."
However, not only during Valentine's day the Ever Red variety performed well, it did well the entire year. "Reflecting on 2016, the ever red always received about 30 percent higher prices than the other red varieties in our assortment. "The genetics of this variety like long vase life and head and stem sizes are valued by the buyers. The head size can achieve a size of 6 cm and the stem lengths range from 70 cm to 1 meter. These are parameters that not all roses can provide." Currently, Bliss Flora has 1,5 ha of Ever Red in production and 2 ha have been planted in October 2016.
Usual auction prices at the moment
After Valentine's Day, the rose prices came down to a normal level. "The reds are still holding OK, especially ever red and the prices of the colored roses dropped a bit, but they are still in a marketable situation.
According to Appachu the weather is very unpredictable at the moment. "So, we cannot rely on any forecasts. We just have to wait and see."
For more information
Bliss Flora Ltd
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