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COVID-19 Update – prices crash
Prices crash for tomato growers but spare a thought for flower growers
Since I began growing, over 25 years ago, I cannot recall the market price for standard tomatoes lower than 60 cents a kilo as reported last week by several growers. However, even though tomato prices are extremely low we should spare a thought for fresh flower growers who have been hit even harder with barely no income at all.
It has been made clear to flower growers they are not deemed an essential service so cannot supply the market at present. Tomato growers and other vegetable growers are still able to supply the market. Despite the price for tomatoes being extremely low the product is still selling. I hope the amount the grower is receiving is reflected in the price at the supermarket or retail outlets allowed to operate under COVID-19 Level 4 restrictions.
If rock bottom domestic market prices for current greenhouse vegetables continue for the coming weeks/months, then this won’t just impact growers but all business that supply goods and services to growers. We are all at the mercy of COVID-19 and the Government’s decision to move to Level 4 to minimise the spread of COVID-19, which I fully endorse. However, decisions to keep most independent fruit and vegetable stores closed will have consequences on the future existence of these smaller stores. Growers may be forced to pull out crops early. This will have a big impact on the retail price of local fruit and vegetable’s available during the winter. Since greenhouses produce good quantities of produce in the winter, compared to outdoor horticulture, we should be treated as ‘essential suppliers’. To explain to readers who are non-growers, it approximately take 13-16 weeks, from germinating tomato seeds to then harvesting greenhouse tomatoes, in the winter. If crops are pulled out early there will be a shortage of supply from June to August.
The hope, for flower growers, is that there will once again be a high demand for flowers once after this pandemic passes. Postponed weddings will be rescheduled, missed birthdays will be celebrated and people will want to decorate their homes with vibrant flowers once again, those that can weather this storm will survive.
For those thinking of diversifying into food production last week Mike Nicholls provided a fantastic article regarding Asparagus grown in protected cropping structures which is definitely food for thought.
I recently read a comment that suggested is was a privilege that vegetable growers are allowed to continue to operate during the COVID-19 lockdown. I could not disagree more with this, it is not a privilege for growers to continue working but a necessity, fresh fruit and vegetables is imperative as it is for all primary producers to continue to work to feed us all.
If you have not seen it read Horticulture NZ, Chief Executive, Mike Chapman’s blog below.