Se­vere frost chills na­tion’s hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WU YIYAO in Shang­hai and GUO ANFEI in Kun­ming

Cold weather is putting a chill on Jiang Weizhi’s ro­man­tic re­solve to present red roses to his girl­friend on Valen­tine’s Day.

e 28-year-old en­gi­neer in Shang­hai re­al­izes that a re­cent cold snap in Kun­ming could ruin his plans to send his girl­friend 99 roses.

Se­vere frost in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince, one of the largest flower pro­duc­tion ar­eas in China, has re­duced the flower har­vest by 50 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to Kun­ming In­ter­na­tional Flower Auc­tion Trad­ing Cen­ter.

About 90 per­cent of do­mes­tic roses are grown in Kun­ming, and the price there is a bench­mark for fresh flow­ers in cities across the na­tion.

Li Caigui, a 48-year-old rose farmer, said he main­tains 0.67 hectare of land to cul­ti­vate roses, and he lost about half of his crop to De­cem­ber’s frost.

“As sup­plies were slashed be­cause of bad weather, whole­sale prices for roses dou­bled to 90 yuan ($15) per bag, or 4.5 yuan per stem,” Li said.

The 4.5-yuan rose, when sent by air to Shang­hai, is traded by whole­salers at 8 yuan to 10 yuan, and then sold to con­sumers at around 15 yuan to 25 yuan each.

Dong Wenyi, deputy man­ager of Kun­ming In­ter­na­tional Flower Auc­tion Trad­ing Cen­ter, one of the largest flower trad­ing hubs in China, said 40 mil­lion roses have been traded since Feb 1.

“The price of roses has dou­bled, and the price of lilies, car­na­tions and baby’s breath also jumped 70 per­cent yearon-year,” Dong said.

Even flow­ers that sur­vived the frost may have in­fe­rior qual­ity, with paler col­ors and smaller petals, Dong said.

While the govern­ment’s fru­gal­ity drive con­trib­uted to de­clin­ing sales, there is more de­mand among in­di­vid­ual con­sumers who are buy­ing flow­ers in in­creas­ing num­bers for fes­ti­vals, wed­dings and do­mes­tic dec­o­ra­tion, Dong said.

At Shang­hai’s Cao­jiadu flower mar­ket, one of the city’s largest down­town fresh flower whole­sale hubs, the price of roses shipped di­rectly from Kun­ming spiked to an 18-year high in the week leading up to Valen­tine’s Day.

Wan Yu­tang, a rose whole­saler who has been work­ing in the in­dus­try for decades, said the price surge sur­prised him.

“When sup­plies were am­ple last year the low­est price for a sin­gle rose was less than 1 yuan. Now, even the low­est­grade red rose from Kun­ming is traded at around 8 yuan each,” Wan said.

Wan said he traded about 2,000 bags of roses in the week be­fore Valen­tine’s Day last year, about 40,000 stems of the flower.

With the soar­ing prices, Jiang, the Shang­hai en­gi­neer, may have to re­con­sider his op­tions. A bunch of 99 roses might cost 1,200 yuan this year, while in 2013 it cost just 600 yuan.

“In the past, giv­ing a large bou­quet of roses was not a prob­lem for me. It was af­ford­able, but this year I think the price is in­sane. I could buy her some­thing that lasts longer with the same money, like a pair of shoes or a piece of jew­elry,” Jiang said.

Many of Wan’s peers are pur­chas­ing other flow­ers and hope that con­sumers will like them es­pe­cially for the Lan­tern Fes­ti­val, which also falls on Feb 14 this year.

Liu Juan, the owner of a florists in Shang­hai, said busi­ness is slack.

In Nan­jing, some con­sumers are opt­ing for peonies or im­ported roses from South Amer­ica to re­place do­mes­tic roses.

“Im­ported flow­ers may be more ex­pen­sive per stem, but their blos­soms are larger than do­mes­tic roses, so a smaller num­ber of stems still makes a pre­sentable bou­quet,” said col­lege stu­dent Wang Yinan.

He paid 500 yuan for 10 peonies for his girl­friend.

In Wuhan, Cen­tral China’s Hubei prov­ince, florists are mar­ket­ing a sweet “rosethemed bou­quet” to re­place the tra­di­tional ones.

“Choco­late roses can also ex­press love but won’t cost as much. Also, the choco­late is de­li­cious,” said Cui Haiyan, who runs a florist’s in the city.

De­spite the high price, Yue Dong, a 31-year-old mid­dleschool teacher in Shang­hai, will still give roses.

“I think I’ll give a box of blooms in­stead of a large bou­quet. A box is more handy, pre­sentable, and with nine roses it costs about 400 yuan,” Wang said. Con­tact the writ­ers at wuyiyao@chi­nadaily.com.cn and guoan­fei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

WANG JING / CHINA DAILY

A cus­tomer in­spects a rose at a flower mar­ket in Bei­jing on Thurs­day, the day be­fore Valen­tine’s Day.

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