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  • Belgium
  • Commercial grower, Breeder/Hybridizer
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    • Not really sure about the reasons they list. Transportation of open flowers is obviously difficult, but peonies that merely have ‘soft’ buds can’t be that much of a problem I guess? I’m also not completely sure that large growers only go once through their field to harvest them all. Sure, if you place twenty interim workers that have never cut peonies into that field, I don’t doubt many will cut them at the wrong stage. I do agree that customers want them when the buds are still too hard (raw). That’s because they don’t want flowers that have already opened as they expect these to last less long on their vase. Another reason, not mentioned in the article, is undoubtedly that early in the season peonies are more expensive and it simply pays off to harvest them too early. Next to that, even during peak season peonies that are harvested too early are better paid for than those that are too far open. To harvest them at the perfect stage is very difficult to do, harvesting them at a stage too early is on the other hand very easy to do. This year again I had a few florists that complained they had bought peonies at a wholesaler which didn’t open, so they now wanted mine which are cut at a later stage. For a florist in the short term it’s also easier to sell them when cut too early as they remain that way for a long time (if they open at all), when harvested at the right stage, they only have a very short time span in which to sell them before they are too far open. In general I do feel that a greater percentage of peony flowers are being picked at the right stage, although there sure is some way to go. What is needed, again IMHO, is indeed an awareness that peonies harvested too early will unavoidably lead to disappointment. Then both growers, wholesalers, florists and customers will opt for riper ones. Peonies can also stand cooling very well, so it would be nice if all florists would have some cooling facilities to keep them at the best stage, which isn’t the case. And next to that there are large differences between varieties, there’s a lot of scope for varieties that can be cut earlier and will still open well.

      • This is an unfortunate problem to hear about, as it’s something that could give the public a bad feeling about peonies as a cut flower. Here in Oregon the growers that I am familiar with make every effort to harvest their cuts at the proper time, and get a premium price as a result. Also, I know that the bosses of their crews know the proper stage to harvest each individual variety – apparently it varies between varieties. The idea that big growers would just go through a field and harvest everything at one time…that doesn’t sound very ethical to me, as I’m sure that they must understand that it’s the wrong thing to do.


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