This rose-growing area, in contrast with the southern rose-growing region, it turns out has had almost no sun for two months. Continuous cloud cover such has this severely impacts the productivity of the rose plants, and all the farms that I visited have been impacted to a greater or lesser extent. For Mayesh customers it will be a relief to know that the rose buyer, whether by luck, detailed planning, coincidence or probably a bit of all three, had elected to make most of the bookings with farms in the south. Nonetheless we have some important suppliers in the north and it seems that there will be no extras over and above the pre-books this year.
I walked through greenhouse after greenhouse with thousands of plants burgeoning with buds but unfortunately many of them will not bloom in time for the Valentine's harvest. It is almost a cruel heartless joke that nature is playing with these growers, as the productivity of the plants seems to be lower than normal, even though they have taken every measure to increase production.
BOOM, boom, BOOM, boom, BOOM, boom...BOOM....boom...
Clearly, as you can see in these photographs taken at Florecal, one of the top farms in Ecuador, there is production, but just not the overabundance that we have become accustomed to. Part of the reason, in my opinion, is that growers are not pinching back the plants like they used to do so any hiccup in the weather erases any gains that may have been reaped from marginal cleaning of the plants. The main reason there is less incentive to pinch for Valentine's is that many growers now have a sustainable year round business that is profitable, and manipulating the plants for higher yields at holidays is deleterious to this stability. I believe that this is better for our business in the long run as the roses maintain a higher quality due to less stress on the plants. However looking myopically at the short term, as we are wont to do, and with Valentine's Day looming large, it is rather annoying.
Some notes on the photographs.
Images 2 - 6 courtesy Florecal. Their post harvest is incredibly well organised, and most of what they do is neither new nor original, but it is the consistent application of many disciplines with a view to facilitating the labor that allows for focus on the final product; a premium rose.
Image # 2 - view of the post-harvest hall with grading racks
Image # 3 - roses being prepared fro grading
Image # 4 - Close-up of the grading rack. This system allows easy visual selection of homogeneous cutting points. First instituted at Flores de Napoli c. 2005
Image # 5 - Preparing the bunch
Image # 6 - Another bunch being prepared,; note the mirror that allows the packer to see the disposition of the flower heads, without having to peer at the bunch.