The dates of Women's Day and UK Mother's Day are a bit more spread out this year, which seems advantageous for rose growers. "In contrast to last year, UK Mother's Day is this year being celebrated at the end of March instead of at the beginning. We now have more days in between the two holidays, which helped to maintain high prices", says Paul Wekesa, director of Panocal, a Kenyan rose farm that mainly supplies to the Dutch auction. According to his estimation, the auction prices are now about 15 percent higher compared to last year.

Paul Wekesa and Mercy Njuguna at the IFTF 2016 in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands.

Influence holiday dates
"It has been a good start to the year. The beginning of January was a bit slow, but from mid-January till yesterday the prices were good, about 15 percent higher than last year during this period." According to Wekesa, the reason for these higher prices is the fact that the holidays, Women's Day and UK Mother's Day in particular, are better spread out this year. "Last year, UK Mother's Day was celebrated on March 6, two days before Women's Day. This year, it is being celebrated on March 26, so there are now over two weeks between this holiday and Women's Day."

The prices have remained high for quite a long period, but they seemed to be lower today. "Usually, they drop after Mother's Day, but today, the average prices of all varieties were about 32 percent lower compared to yesterday. I hope they do not plunge before Mother's Day.

For both holidays, pink roses are in high demand and as this is one of the most produced colors at Panocal, they can take full advantage of these days.

The last couple of months, the high altitude farms in Kenya had to deal with cold nights and many of the low altitude farms with scarcity of water. Panocal, however, is situated on an altitude of 1,880 meters above sea level and was fortunately not suffering from neither of these challenges created by Mother Nature. "We did not, like the high altitude farms, have to deal with cold nights and our water supply is still OK."

Forecast auction prices
Wekesa predicts the auction prices to maintain high till Sunday March 26. "Then, they usually drop and will be down for about two weeks. Then, from April onwards, the prices will start to increase in the run-up to European Mother's Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday May 14.

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Paul Wekesa