Daffodils – one of the first heralds of spring – were being cropped in south Lincolnshire before Christmas.
In fact, they are forced spring flowers, grown in greenhouses in readiness for the festive season.
Tim Clay, who runs J C Clay & Partners at Whaplode, forces about 30 tonnes of daffodils each year, in addition to about 30 acres of outdoor grown crop, and the flowers mainly go to wholesale markets.
Tim says he normally starts cropping the indoor flowers a week before Christmas and continues until the outdoor crop is ready, usually at the end of February, although early varieties can bring that date forward.
However, Tim says: “The outdoor flowers are very backward. The reason for that is we haven’t had a cold spell and they need to go through a cold spell and then warmth, so ours are actually a fortnight behind what they would have been.
“Things aren’t looking too bad though. The flowers have gone quite well. I think the weather has been conducive to people getting out and buying them. It’s started off better than the last two years.”
The farm is a family business, started in a smaller way by Tim’s grandfather. Tim’s father John is now semi retired and so works on the farm part-time and Tim’s brother runs the contracting side of the business.
The 400 acre farm also produces potatoes, sugar beet, wheat and onions.