AHDB has announced that the National Cut Flower Centre (CFC), based at Rookery Farm near Holbeach in Lincolnshire has secured a further five years of funding.
The remit of the CFC project will also be broadened to include new research into crop protection and nutrition. According to AHDB, “The CFC will continue to identify new commercially successful cut flowers to the UK market and begin new trials for 2018 include research into Fusarium on column stocks, in conjunction with University of Warwick, and weed control, supported by ADAS.
“Budget has been allocated this year to address petal spotting on field-grown sunflowers, which causes losses of up to 2.4million stems per year in the UK.”
The first output from the new remit was presented to attendees at the CFC’s open evening earlier this month, which also featured a mobile, on-site diagnostic laboratory giving growers the opportunity to bring in plant samples for examination and diagnosis.
Previous trials at the CFC have led to the introduction of 11 new commercially grown crops, with a combined potential farm-gate value of £2.9million over the previous five year period.
Photo Credit: AHDB Horticulture
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For many years the Dutch auction system at Aalsmeer, and Royal FloraHolland in particular, has been at the heart of global flower trade, selling produce from around the globe to dealers and suppliers who then sell it around the world, with some British plants being sent across the channel before being re-imported.
Now entrepreneur and florist Steve France hopes to change that with a new venture: Florismart. “Everything goes through Amsterdam – the Dutch flower auction. Growers sell to the exporters, the exporters sell it to the wholesalers, and then the wholesalers sell it to the florist. It’s bizarre that flowers go from Kenya to Holland and then through the tunnel into England, when they could just go straight to Stansted,” France, who is also the founder of online florist Arena Flowers, told City A.M.
He also hopes that the new platform will help growers to diversify their production. “We spot trends: not only do we have all the growers putting their product on the platform, but we have all the exporters and florists. It gives us a lot of data on the industry. We can see price movement, and so we take data about what florists are buying and feed growers with information about what they should be growing.”
He also acknowledged that, if successful the service would be another competitor to wholesales: “The local wholesalers just hate us. We’re like their worst nightmare. Not only because we’re changing the market, but it’s clear that florists shouldn’t buy their flowers from a local wholesale market, it’s insane. That wholesaler has rents, it has fridges, and it has staff. And florists end up paying for that.”
Photo Caption: Florismart hopes to challenge Aalsmeer’s monopoly
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons
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The latest statistics published by Defra and the Office for National Statistics suggests a 7.5 per cent increase in the area of horticultural crops in the UK last year. The main sectors which contributed to the rise included top fruit, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, onions and salads.
However, the statistics also revealed an 8.6 per cent fall in glasshouse space dedicated to flowers, foliage and other ornamental plants. Home produced vegetables were worth around £1.2 billion in 2014, 8.5 per cent less than 2013 due to lower prices caused by oversupply and lack of demand, with field vegetables worth £885 million and protected vegetables £348 million. The value of UK produced fruit rose in value to £620 million in 2014, 7.5 per cent up on the previous year thanks to increasing demand for soft fruit, together with larger yields and a longer growing season. UK ornamentals were worth £1.17 billion in 2014, 2.0 per cent lower than in 2013 but higher than the values seen in previous years.
Home production of vegetables contributed to around 57.6 per cent of the total UK supply in 2014, while the UK supply of carrots was 101.4 per cent, indicating that the UK exported more carrots than it imported: the highest level of carrot exports on record. Tomatoes also performed well, with home grown crop accounting for 19.4 per cent of consumption, the highest level since 2002.
British Flowers Week, the annual campaign to promote British flowers and foliage has been declared a success by organisers.
A new website, www.britishflowersweek.co.uk, and social media tag, #BritishFlowersWeek, helped to spread the word with more than 5.4 million posts on Twitter. According to organisers New Covent Garden Flower Market and Flowers From the Farm, ‘Support for British Flowers Week in the media has broadened this year to reach over 3 million people with mentions and features in regional, trade and national media, including pieces in The Daily Telegraph, Gardens Illustrated, The Independent, RHS The Garden magazine, English Garden, Waitrose Weekend, The Daily Express, Country Living, Homes and Gardens, Yorkshire Life and on regional radio stations.’
During each day of the week a different florist was commissioned to create three of fifteen special arrangements which were highlighted on the website and in the media.
The campaign was founded by New Covent Garden Flower Market in 2013 to spread passion for British flowers and foliage, with the ultimate aim of bringing British flowers back into British homes.
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