A FAMILY tradition of forcing daffodils has come to the end of the line as far as Jeremy Ward is concerned.
The Sutton St James grower says this will be the last season he will produce the emblem of spring because he finds it just doesn’t pay any more.
Jeremy followed his father and grandfather into growing the bulbs, but says he has been forced to make this his last season because of two factors – climate change and rising costs.
“I shall definitely be the last generation in my family to grow daffodils,” said Jeremy (41), who farms at Baulkins Drove. “My daughters are interested in the job, but I don’t think there will be a future in it for them.”
Jeremy is a small-scale grower, working one-and-a-half acres, and it is people like him who have been hardest hit by the changes.
He explains that whereas at one time he was paying anything from £250 to £300 for a tonne of good variety bulbs he is now paying £450 to £500 for a not particularly good variety. Despite paying more, Jeremy says he can now expect 500 bunches per tonne, whereas ten to 15 years ago he would have achieved 2,500 bunches.
“You are paying more for your bulbs and getting less croppage,” he said, adding that the shorter, generally milder winters meant outdoor grown flowers were arriving sooner and “clashing” with the traditional forced bulb market. As a result, consumers were choosing the cheaper outdoor grown variety.
Jeremy added: “It’s to do with dry weather and climate change and we use kerosene in the greenhouse heaters and that’s gone up in price and that’s all adding to my costs.
“There are several people in my situation, smaller growers, and some of them have already gone into other work.”
Jeremy is now looking at his options and hopes to be able to turn his attention to a niche market that might give him – and his daughters in time – a future in horticulture.