Paeony spec­ta­cle may be lost

Newslink - - NEWS - By RACHAEL KELLY

Fields of paeonies bask­ing in the sum­mer sun­shine near Mataura may soon be­come just a mem­ory.

Lyn and Trevor New­ton say a change of life­style, es­ca­lat­ing ex­port com­pli­ance costs and in­creased trade at their slink skin busi­ness has prompted them to sell many of their tu­bers and plants and put their commercial block on the mar­ket.

Lyn New­ton said the cou­ple, who farm 800 acres at Waikana, bought the four acre block 15 years ago to di­ver­sify, with the aim of grow­ing crops.

Af­ter much re­search, they planted 2500 paeonies with the aim of ex­port­ing the flow­ers once the plants were es­tab­lished.

For the next five years they ex­ported com­mer­cially to the United States un­til com­pli­ance costs made it un­eco­nom­i­cal.

‘‘Some­one [an­other ex­porter] got caught with light brown ap­ple moth in a flower go­ing into the US so we went from ab­so­lutely no com­pli­ance to a very, very strict spray­ing pro­gramme and it cost $1200 to com­ply to get into the the US per year’’.

They con­tin­ued to ex­port for ‘‘a few years’’ un­der that sys­tem but con­tin­ued to grow their lo­cal trade at the same time and even­tu­ally stopped ex­port­ing three years ago.

‘‘Now we work with lo­cal florists and do 21sts, wed­dings and fu­neral flow­ers. We’ve changed more to the lo­cal mar­ket.’’

‘‘Our over­all di­rec­tion is chang­ing a bit. There’s still money in paeonies but our kids are try­ing to make us slow down and spend more time on the rugby side­lines.’’

The busi­ness was only labour in­ten­sive for about six weeks from Labour Weekend and then again for about a week in au­tumn when the plants were cut back.

They had sold plants to other grow­ers and re­duced plant num­bers to about 1700, so their loyal client base will still be able to ‘‘get their fix’’ this year.

‘‘I would say I’ll still be pick­ing this sea­son.’’

‘‘We’ve had a great re­sponse lo­cally – we have a loyal client base that come back ev­ery year.’’

Days are num­bered: Lyn and Trevor New­ton have down­sized their paeony busi­ness at Mataura and put the commercial block on the mar­ket.

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