Germany: Poinsettia season 2017 with obstacles

“This year some horticulturists may have preferred to breed water buffalo and grow rice”, says Josef Baumann of ‘Beratungsring Hannover’ with a little gallows humour, speaking about this year’s poinsettia season.

by specialist journalist Katrin Klawitter

After all this season was special, as Baumann detailed on the occasion of this year’s Ahlem poinsettia afternoon, particularly with regard to the weather: the main characteristics in the main production weeks were rain and a lack of sunshine.

The principle growing period for poinsettias was too cool
This is also confirmed by the data that Dr. Dirk Ludolph from ‘Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Gartenbau’ (LVG) in Ahlem presented: the average temperatures in his poinsettia season were certainly somewhat cooler than in previous years, mainly in the main growth months from July to September.

In Ahlem the varieties thus received an average of 20.5 degrees in the weeks with long days, two to three degrees less than usual – and stayed smaller than normal across all the varieties. This was followed by a summer that wasn’t much of a summer with regard to sunshine – all the way through to a September that also brought little sunshine.

Many varieties induced earlier
As lower temperatures lead to a longer critical length of day many varieties induced earlier and the differences between the varieties became blurred – and some late varieties were already ready for sale three or four weeks before ‘Poinsettia Day’ in Ahlem on December 6. The earlier varieties such as ‘Ouvertüre Dark Red’ were already ready for sale on November 6 and the rather later variety ‘Infinity Red’ on November 10.

There were also many crop protection problems such as botrytis, above all in the last third of the cultivation period, as well as pythium and phytophthora, with both kinds of fungus more widespread than in other years, Baumann told us.

Unfavourable weather: poinsettias that required less inhibitor
The weather did bring one ‘advantage’: the poinsettias required less inhibitor overall this year, but the producers who did not adjust to this and who inhibited as usual were left with smaller plants. Despite all the production obstacles and difficulties controlling irrigation and fertilisation Baumann felt that the plant quality this year had remained quite good.

Unusual: in some businesses bemisia infestations occurred from October onwards and were difficult to control. Similar problems were seen with spider mites or greenfly. Some lots from a large supplier also battled from the start with rooting and growth problems and showed weaker growth later. The assumption: too much inhibitor in the mother plants.

Late demand for poinsettias
The marketing problem this year was that many varieties were ready early but the free market demand for poinsettias was later than in previous years.

Thus many producers were already quite ‘nervous’ by the last Sunday in November because of the hesitant demand and began to reduce their prices. “Poinsettias have passed their optimum point on the sales curve”, Baumann then also warned in Ahlem. Producers without sufficient wholesale customers in particular should think about the quantities and varieties that they want to cultivate in the future. Ludolph then reported that the red colour is the clear favourite in poinsettia sales. While there was also a slight increase in the sale of white varieties the proportion of varieties in other colours continued to reduce.

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