International Updates

By Gabrielle Stannus

With 2020 off to a flying start, we take a quick look at some of the horticultural headlines across China, Europe, the UK and the USA. Plus, we share details of some of the top industry e-newsletters, so you can find the news to suit your business needs.

Coronavirus continues to impact business
Whilst the full economic impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the horticultural industry remains to be seen, it has already affected the international flower trade. Growers importing to China have lost sales over the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day period.

The quarantine measures designed to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus outside of China has also impacted the busy Trade Expo season. The Chinese hall at the recent IPM Essen trade fair was empty. Other horticultural expos have been cancelled or postponed, including the biggest horticultural show in China. Originally scheduled for this April, the 22nd Hortiflorexpo IPM Beijing has now been delayed until September-November this year.

IPM Essen wraps up
One of the world’s largest horticultural trade fairs, IPM Essen attracted 1,538 exhibitors from 46 nations and over 54,000 visitors from over 100 countries to Germany. Attendance was up on 2019, and exhibitors had a big focus on sustainability and climate change.

“The increasing interest is also probably a result of the fair's efforts to represent every link in the chain, from breeder to grower, retailer, florist and end consumer,” writes Elita Vellekoop, Editor of FloralDaily, in her wrap up of the event. Many Australian nursery representatives attended IPM Essen including GIA Director Alistair Hill.

Plant Passports creating challenges for growers
Matthew Appleby, Editor of Horticulture Week, says that his publication’s most read stories recently have been about Plant Passports.

A Plant Passport is an official label for the movement of regulated plants and plant products within the European Union (EU), and where applicable, into and within EU Protected Zones. Since 14 December 2019, growers are now required to attach Plant Passports, i.e. special labels, to the smallest tradeable unit for each species within consignments. Examples of smallest tradeable unit include plant, tray and bundle. The rules are designed to improve biosecurity and traceability of plants amid the spread of pests and diseases such as Xylella and oak processionary moth.

“Many growers have found the new EU rules on full plant passporting a challenge,” says Matthew. He says that a poll on these new Plant Health Regulations found that 68% of nurseries have not implemented the new rules fully, while 32% have. 68% of respondents said the new plant passporting rules will not be useful, while 21% said they will be only a little useful and just 11% said they would be useful. Growers are concerned with the labour and material costs required to implement these changes.

GIA will be keeping watch over the ‘plant passport’ roll out given the strategic focus by GIA on plant traceability; and national market access, through adoption of BioSecure HACCP.

Peat replacement
Matthew says that peat replacement has been trending with readers this month. The UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is apparently committed to phasing out peat by 2030, although the timeframe for ending peat sales at retail and grower level remains unclear.

Sale of retail garden centres
UK growers and the supply chain have also been following with interest the sale of 145 Wyevale Garden Centres to 57 buyers over the last 15 months.

Interest in cannabis continues to grow at the potential expense of ornamentals
Chris Beytes, Editor of GrowerTalks/Green Profit, and Acres Online, says that the big horticultural headline in his country right now revolves around cannabis.

“At first it was cannabis (marijuana), first for medical use, and more recently for recreational use. While illegal federally, each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have been making their own laws regarding both medical and recreational use of marijuana. Right now, 33 states allow medical use and 11 states allow recreational use (for those over 21),” explains Chris.

“One of the impacts of cannabis growing has been a luring away of growers from ornamental greenhouses. Why grow flowers when you can grow something cool like pot? This is especially attractive to new, young growers. And there’s been tons of money offered. The result is a shortage of good, qualified growers for ornamental operations,” adds Chris.

Rising wages
Chris says that labour availability and rising wages continue to be areas of concern for growers in the USA.

“There is a strong push to take the minimum wage to $15 an hour, from the current $8 to $11 (depending upon which state you are in),” explains Chris. Who will these costs be passed onto? Watch this space.

To stay up to date with the latest overseas news, trends and techniques in your chosen area of horticultural expertise, sign up to one or more of the following e-newsletters.

Europe and international
  • FloralDaily: Daily global flower and floriculture news (free)
  • HortiDaily: Daily global greenhouse news (free)
  • MMJDaily: Daily news for professional & legal growers of medical cannabis (free)

United Kingdom
  • Horticulture Week: A highly recommended source of industry news (free trial available)

United States of America
The Ball Horticultural Company publish a wide range of free horticultural e-newsletters. Click here to sign up to one or more of the following:

  • Green Profit's Buzz
  • Green Talks - Sustainability e-news
  • GrowerTalks' Acres Online
  • highlights
  • Inside Grower
  • Nursery & Landscape Insider
  • Perennial Pulse
  • Pest Talks
  • Tropical Topics