Flower farmers brace for low harvest

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Thursday, January 30, 2014


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Blooms may shy away due to the cold.

Known as Flower Capital of the North, flowers growers here are preparing for a smaller yield in blooms due to the icy weather.

Roger Islao, flower grower from the Agri-based Technological Business Incubator (ATBI)-Strawberry Fields, said the flowers have not grown fully because of the low temperature.

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Islao said the chill affected height and growth of his Fiji flowers.

“If not for the cold, the flowers should be fully grown after two to three months,” he lamented.

The blooms, already two months old, are shorter than expected Islao reported.

He said the icy weather results in the wilting of petals of flowers explaining dried up moisture causes flowers to wither easily.

Flowers must be watered to prevent wilting Islao shared explaining if there is this chill in the middle of the flower, the flower will easily dry, making it weak and brittle.

Islao said flowers also cannot grow fully due to the “short day gap.” When the days are shorter, there is lesser time for the plants to grow which is why the flowers are also exposed to artificial lighting in order to catch up on their growth.

For the approaching Panagbenga festival, prices of the flowers are expected to increase depending on the demand.

In 2011, flower production of the province reached 24, 862,467 metric tons with La Trinidad pegging the highest contribution with 18,876,650 mt of cutflower production.

Chrysanthemum holds the highest production among the flowers with 15,833,455 mt. Fiji flowers are like chrysanthemums but differ in their varieties of colors.

For 2012, there were 31,757,481 mt of flowers produced by the province with chrysanthemum still having the highest production 13,273,223 mt and La Trinidad having the highest among the municipalities with 17,221,990 mt of flowers.

Flower production reached more than 33M mt on 2013 with chrysanthemum having the highest production of 11,530747.80 mt. The peak of the production falls on the 2nd quarter of the year, reaching 3,876,670 mt of production.

In La Trinidad, Barangay Bahong is considered as the center of the local cut-flower industry in this part of Benguet with cutflower-producing barangays of this town, such as Ambiong and Alno.

Almost 60% of the revenue is from cut flower production, almost 20% is from vegetable production, and the remaining 10% is from strawberry production. Farmer’s plant flowers 3 ½ to 4 months before the peak seasons like Valentine’s Day, All Saints’ Day and Christmas Day.

Growers supply flowers in Metro Manila, Ilocos Region, and Bicol Region.

Provincial Agriculture office data shows peak months includes November, February when Valentine’s Day is celebrated as well as the annual Baguio Flower Festival and March when majority graduates from schools and universities here. (With reports from Ina Mitiam, UP-Baguio intern)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 31, 2014.

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