SPECIALIST outdoor grower L & D Flowers at Surfleet is introducing a limited number of polytunnels for the first time next season as a direct result of this year’s “horrible” weather.
After ploughing back 15 acres of sunflowers with black spot brought on by rainwater on the petals and poor sales of sweet williams and gladioli, director James Lacey plans to trial new cut-flower products under plastic on three acres.
He said: “With all our flowers apart from hyacinths grown outdoors, we’re at 100 per cent risk, and this has been a horrible year.
“Next year for the first time we’ll be growing new products in polytunnels to give some protection against the weather.
“The supermarkets – we sell through Finlays to Marks and Spencer, Tesco and the Co-op – are very keen to have British-grown flowers they can put a British stamp on.
“But the sweet williams were poor thanks to the weather so sales suffered and the planting season for gladioli was a disaster, with heavy rain throughout July causing disease in the crop, then washing away the spray we used.
“Early gladioli sales also took a knock because the supermarkets tried to extend the season by bringing in earlier gladioli from abroad which were inferior, so people were put off before the British product came in.
“Gladioli sales have picked up after a poor start and sunflowers are doing very well now.”
L & D, which is currently harvesting gladioli and sunflowers and planting hyacinths ready for Christmas (last Christmas was its first producing cut and potted hyacinths under glass), grows flowers outdoors on 110 acres, with 15 acres still to go.