Cuts Bloom In Missouri
Cut flowers are still drawing crowds at farmers' markets.
June 24, 2008
Cut flower growers are alive and well in Missouri. Not carnations or long-stem roses, but specialty cuts that are field grown in the spring through the fall. Each season brings to market new colors, textures and fragrances in a variety of annuals, perennials, grasses, wild flowers and woody plants. They sell to florists, wholesalers, supermarkets and farmers' markets.
Many growers are cashing in on the popularity of local farmers' markets flourishing throughout the United States. The promise of "locally grown, farm fresh and healthy" draws crowds. Bedding plant and cut flower growers have found these outlets add exposure and potential to increase income.
Today, more than 200 species of cut annuals, bulbs, perennials and wildflowers are being sold to wholesalers, florists, supermarkets and direct to consumers. More state universities and extension agents are offering suggestions for local climates. With all the advantages of specialty cuts, they may be easier to grow than to sell. Plans for financing, sales and marketing are essential for success. Some states offer alternative crop loans, but there is no free money except for non-profits, so it is important to be aware of scam lenders who promise more than they can deliver.
Statistics show sales of cuts are steady, but not increasing. The extraordinary diversity of colors and textures specialty cuts bring didn't just add income to plant growers. They could revitalize the cut flower market. Local markets offer greater visibility and the possibility of overcoming consumer resistance with the promise of farm fresh longer shelf life.
The Association of Specialty Cut Flowers Growers has been an excellent resource for many growers. It was organized in 1988 by Allan Armitage and Judy Laushman when they saw their field trials of cuts at the University of Georgia were drawing an increasing number of visitors and more inquiries from growers. ASCFG provides information on culture, marketing strategies, current research, new varieties and networking to its 620 members in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. Check out www.Localharvest.org for local farmers' markets and ASCFG's Web site at www.ascfg.org.
Mary Lu Parks is a freelance writer in Columbia, Mo.