A warmer winter this year has turned out to be a thorn in the flesh for rose growing farmers.

In Pune and across Bangalore, the winter temperature has increased by 4 degree Celsius. Both these centres are major areas for rose cultivation. The higher than normal temperature has resulted in an earlier bloom of roses.

This, in turn, has advanced the arrival of the roses in the market. Planters project that at least 25 per cent of the blooms are set to arrive in the market much ahead of Valentine’s Day this year.

The ongoing concern of floriculturists is that the sharp rise in temperature could lead to damage and consequent rejection of export consignments. In the domestic market, most planters are expecting a glut that would result in prices plunging.

Roses fetch the maximum value during the week preceding Valentine’s Day, with prices rising as high as Rs 10 a stem in the wholesale market compared with Rs 2-4 on an average day. For the fiscal 2011-12, India exported about Rs 320 crore worth of flowers, half of which were roses. Usually, roses take around 45-50 days to grow. Farmers generally begin pruning the rose bushes by the first week of December. This tends to yield a good crop by January 26.

Between January 26 and February 14, roses are stored in cold rooms, and then shipped to Amsterdam ready for the auctions, to be finally shipped across the retail markets in Europe.

This year, farmers’ fear that the buds are bound to be ready to harvest by January 21, five days ahead of schedule.

“These roses would not be accepted by exporters, because they would be too early for dispatch to Europe for Valentine’s Day buyers. Farmers would be forced to sell it in the domestic market, putting pressure on prices,” said Milind Manerikar, Chief Executive Officer of Sankalp Farms, a major rose grower near Pune.

He said that if the rose buds do get exported, they are bound to suffer damage due to the early blooming. This, Manerikar says, could result in disputes between the buyers and the sellers.

Bangalore-based rose farmer Shreekant Shivappa said that such temperature rises prove to be a double whammy for farmers. “On the one hand, prices of all agriculture inputs are increasing and on the other, the farmers’ margins are shrinking. Rose farming is increasing becoming an unviable business,” he said.

Agriculture expert Jagadeesh Sunkad said that such unusual weather is a result of climate change. “Not just roses, even other cash crops such as rubber and tea are bound to be affected given the undue stress. It is time we send an SOS to the government,” he said.

rahul.wadke@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 18, 2013)
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