Farmer Focus: Daffodil shortage this Easter

Daffodil flower picking is under way. I was once told that every flower season is different. One wonders how many possible variations there can be, but this one is proving the point yet again.

Our issue this year appears to be the weather, which has been more like continual autumn, with no defined change into winter. This has confused the flowers, as they have had no cold snap to warn them that spring is on the way. The consequence has been a late start and, so far, lower-than-average flower numbers.

During the past week we have seen a rapid increase in the picking workload, with the earlier varieties running late and clashing with the mid-season varieties, which are running more or less on time.

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What is required now is a colder spell to slow growth, although that is not looking very likely. With flower crops in Lincolnshire being harvested and an early start predicted in Scotland, a shortage of daffodils seems likely for the Easter market, which is of course late this year.

On the arable front, crops have gone backwards in the past month. I have one block of wheat near the coast that has taken a severe battering from salt spray coming off the sea and may have to be replaced by a spring crop.

All crops are in need of drier conditions and sunshine, although generally the potential remains considerably better than it was 12 months ago. Ground conditions remain too wet to apply any nitrogen, but I am hopeful we can make a start on land work soon, as the backlog is building with spring beans and spring barley to drill and a considerable area to plough for potatoes and onions.

The new NFU senior line-up looks interesting, with a range of skills and sector experience. I don’t underestimate the challenges they have to face and I wish them well, but in my opinion promoting the potential of the agricultural industry in both physical and financial terms to a wider society continues to be vital and I hope the NFU continues to develop this.

Jeremy Oatey manages 1,100ha of arable land near Plymouth in Cornwall and is the Farmers Weekly’s Arable Farmer of the Year. Cropping includes wheat, barley, oilseed rape, oats and beans as well as potatoes, onions, swedes and daffodils.