We hope to finish lifting our daffodil bulbs this week. It has been an unusual season in that there have been no clouds of dust in the fields this year, writes Richard Barlow.
Early grading results are indicating that despite the earliest start to flowering, and hence growing, our yields are below average, with a wide variation in how different varieties have performed. I suspect the weather in early May caused leaf diseases to spread rapidly and stop normal bulking up.
The number of daffodil growers in Lincolnshire has fallen dramatically in the last 15 years. It used to be a thriving sector of horticulture and via discussion groups and the predecessor of the AHDB-Horticulture, growers would meet up regularly to discuss the latest technology. It now feels like a sector in decline with many growers only cropping the flowers and not bothering to lift the bulbs. One of the main reasons stems from the withdrawal of the approval to use formaldehyde as a fungicide in bulb dips and hot water treatment equipment. Enough time has now passed to show that there are no alternatives as good at controlling baserot, the scourge of the industry, as formaldehyde. The disappointing thing is that the withdrawal of formaldehyde was an EU wide event, but as is common, countries like The Netherlands gave their growers a special dispensation to carry on using it, while our ‘tree huggers’ at DEFRA refused. Will this tendency of ‘gold plating’ get worse when we leave the clutches of the EU?