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Chrysanthemum week in Medellin, Colombia

At the beginning of September, Mayesh correspondent David Dahlson traveled to Medellin, Colombia, where most of all the Chrysanthemum production in South America takes place. Twice a year, the breeders open their “showrooms” to interested parties to assess the new varieties that have been created by the various Chrysanthemum breeders.

"The showrooms are greenhouses, usually situated at one of the larger farms, where the blooms are coaxed and massaged into a display of blooms. The breeders, many of whom are Dutch companies, embroider their displays around whimsical themes. Being somewhat cynical about Pompons and Mums, I often wondered what the point was of replacing one yellow daisy with another when the differences are minute. However, my opinion changed considerably after I witnessed the intense amount of manual labor needed to produce a successful Chrysanthemum crop."

"Producing mini plants from tissue culture micro plants, taking cuttings and propagating those to make “mother” plants, taking yet more cuttings to produce plants which are grown out in the greenhouse, followed by hours of disbudding, whether side shoots to create Mums or removing the apical growth to create Pompons; the labor is endless. I was left to muse as to how anyone makes money doing this, given the hours of labor necessary. What I learned was that, if a new yellow daisy saves even a day or two of production in the field over an older variety, then there is value to the grower, as the faster they can produce the Pompons, the quicker the turnover in the greenhouse is, the faster a new crop can be planted, yielding incremental profits to the grower."

"For years, Chrysanthemums have been side-lined as a flower for supermarket bouquets, and not without reason. The offerings have generally been bland, somewhat plastic in appearance, and if I may be frank, hard to get excited about. But as we are in a fashion business, at Mayesh we believe that there are opportunities for new colors, shapes, and textures to be introduced to our customer base. So, while I did see endless variations on the daisy, cushion, and button themes, I was pleasantly surprised by the array of fascinating “Mums” that were offered by the breeders, which I think could become successful focal flowers in their own right."

"Particularly noteworthy are the larger “Ball” type varieties which now come in pink, peach, coral, and white. These new cultivars could be more than adequate substitutes for Dahlias, as they are much hardier, travel a lot better, and are available year-round. There are packing issues to be resolved so that these larger blooms can be shipped in good condition, and Mayesh is working to resolve these hurdles."

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