Commercial flower growers are frantically picking their plush, pink peonies to get them off to export markets before they start to bloom.
New Zealand exports about $3 million worth of stems, from about 40 peony export growers scattered throughout the South Island and the bottom of the North Island.
NZ Bloom is the country’s main peony exporter. Its managing director David Ballard said its off-shore markets were going pleasingly well so far this season.
There was strong competition from Chile and Australia at the start of the season, he said, but that had eased with growers about a third of the way through the peony season.
“The United States is the largest and it’s having a good year, but China’s also come back into the market this year and has been buying really solidly,” Ballard said.
“[Australia] seems to have gotten through their local crop, and we’re getting good demand out of Australia, plus about 20 other countries we’re shipping to in much smaller volumes.”
Ballard said prices were reasonable, helped by the low NZ dollar.
Returns for growers would be similar or a bit softer to last year, which was a bumper export season, he said.
“Last year was an extremely strong wedding season in the US, so there was a particularly strong demand for certain types of colours in that first part of the season.