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Exploring specialty cut flowers for profit in Wyoming market

Specialty cut flower production is an opportunity to add valuable commodities for Wyoming growers, serve local economies, and diversify Wyoming’s economic base with horticultural crops. Flower production can also provide biological benefits by providing nutrition and shelter for crop pollinators and beneficial insects.

This project’s purpose was to produce information for Wyoming growers and demonstrate if growing fresh cut flowers is feasible. The resurgence of locally grown goods has been a boost to the Wyoming horticulture industry. The spread and popularity of farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and food cooperatives are indicative of this trend.

According to the Wyoming Business Council, farmers’ markets contributed more than $2.2 million to the state’s economy in 2012 and at least 46 markets operated around the state in 2013. Approximately 20 CSAs serve communities and primarily provide members with vegetables but have a variety of add-on items, such as cut flowers.

The U.S. cut flower industry relies heavily on imports from countries near the equator due to lower energy and labor costs. The U.S. is not one of the major exporters but is one of the largest producers and major buyers of cut flowers. With a shift toward specialty cut flowers, local markets can gain a diverse and high-value product that can compete with imported goods.

Kerri Kolb, from Rayven’s Flowers and Gifts, said they purchase all their flowers from a wholesaler in Denver. Neither is opposed to using locally produced flowers, but consistency is a must.

“And they have to be cleaned, and that’s difficult,” Fertig added. “They [sources] have to be dependable and we need developed and long lasting types of flowers.”

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