Alaska peonies have a special place in the world flower market. Typically, growers in the 49th state have a window of time when the flowers aren’t being harvested anywhere else in the world. But, this summer’s record-breaking heat led to an early and fast harvest, leaving farmers here wondering what the future will bring.
Rachel Christy owns Alaska Blooms Peony Farm, tucked away on a back road in Wasilla. This is her ninth summer in the peony business. The only flowers left from this season are stored in a walk-in cooler.
Outside the cooler, 3,000 plants sit on about a half-acre of land. Right now, Christy’s fields of peony plants are green. Only leaves and stems remain on the bushes after an unusually early, and fast, harvest. Typically, Christy says she starts harvesting around July 4.
“And we harvest all the way into the first week of August,” Christy said. “Everything is just very calm and scheduled. I have early varieties, mid-season varieties, and late varieties.”
But this year was different. Alaska got really hot.
“With the heat this year, we started on June 24,” Christy said. “Almost two weeks ahead of time."