Netherlands peony harvest finishes two weeks earlier.

Translated from: Van der Lee, H. “Seizoen kort en hevig.” In: Greenity, 2024, June 14, pp. 38-39.

Season short and intense.

Peony season came and went in the blink of an eye, all because plants were blooming earlier and had suffered from poor weather and high disease incidence. Growers’ experiences differ but are in general positive, unless hail had passed through.

Given last Winter, expectations were low. Huge amounts of rain combined with relatively high temperatures forewarned of danger for the peonies. “Expectations were that I’d be very lucky to cut 50% at most, but in the end at least I was able to cut just that,” Andijk peony grower Jeroen van der Jagt says. Week 23 (June 3-9) at Brothers van der Jagt, peonies are still being processed, but the season of cutting is over. “We were done cutting two weeks earlier, now we are preparing them and removing weeds.” Van der Jagt can see the crop losing its dark green colour fast.

“Based on those poor expectations I’m quite satisfied,” Van der Jagt acknowledges, “but when your expectations are thus low they can only be surpassed. It really is a small wonder that we were still able to cut so many stems. The extreme wet weather, the high temperatures in February and then the cold again were all detrimental to the crop. Fortunately we didn’t receive any hail, for I’ve heard from colleagues that damage was sometimes heavy locally.” Van der Jagt did see some phytophthora after Winter, but botrytis damage was acceptable according to this grower. “Phytophthora we can control somewhat, but it’s difficult to get rid of it completely.”


Nearly the same turnover

Prices at the auction were in general very good, higher than last year. “Last year there were many stems; turnover this year is slightly lower but given the lower number of stems that’s not too bad. However I do hope we won’t experience too many such years.”

Uneven growth and blooming of the peonies – Van der Jagt has eighteen varieties showing that same picture – resulted in a lot of extra work. “You just had to go through the fields more often than normal, because they were all so uneven. It was a huge amount of walking the fields over and over, but fortunately we had enough staff. I myself put in a lot of hours, seven days a week and the evenings as well. The peonies also opened faster in my opinion, so we really had to work hard.”

Compared to other years, peonies this year sold at higher prices.

Compared to other years, peonies this year sold at higher prices. Orange bars: number of stems (left Y-axis). Green line: average wholesale prices Floraholland Auctions (right Y-axis).

Not spectacular

William Boon is also done cutting. As he tells it, he had barely escaped disaster because he only got some slight hail in his crop, hardly damaging it. “In the end I’m very satisfied with the quality of the peonies. I had some losses due to water pressing from the embankment, but I didn’t get any botrytis. Phytophthora is absent from my fields and I hope to keep it that way. I keep a close eye on hygiene and I don’t use any machines from others to avoid the disease slipping through.”

Boon thought prices at the beginning of the season were not spectacularly good. “Now that supply is decreasing (week 23) prices are increasing. The early peonies from the Netherlands overlapped with the peony supply from Southern Europe, because the season there was normal, not earlier. Those growers were thus still auctioning their flowers when we supplied ours earlier.” Boon hopes prices will remain high for the remainder of the season. “Week 24 and 25 we’ll still be preparing peonies, after that it’ll be finished. The supply at the auction is decreasing sharply, but of course I don’t know what other growers still have in their cooling facilities.”

Those not working mainly with contracts do have a good year pricewise, Boon says. “I do both auction and contracts, which is a means of risk management. That’s working out fine, but we do have to pay much higher wages for labour. This season I did secure enough staff, but then peonies started blooming earlier before staff arrived, so in the beginning of the cutting season it was rather busy. Weed pressure was and is high and due to the wet circumstances mechanical and chemical weeding is difficult. It all results in a lot of manual labour.”

Processing peonies (from their Chilean farm) at Boon.



Broker Gijs Laan from CNB may have the largest hangover in the sector, for he saw the Peony Days being cancelled. The show was to be held in week 23, but was annulled because the aimed high quality was not available this year. “It wasn’t a completely disastrous season, even though many growers weren’t able to cut as many peonies as intended. It’s a pity we couldn’t arrange the show, but at some point one must decide. We aimed for between 80 and 100 varieties and we wouldn’t have made it. It is as it is.” According to Laan the acreage of peonies worldwide still increases, but the market seems able to absorb that supply. “Peonies are available from France, Italy and Spain, but also from Poland, Romania and Chile. Whether all goes according to plan there, depends on who you’re speaking to, but prices this year were good at least.”

The CNB peony show in 2023.


More tolerant

Peony representative Aad Vernooy says the general picture of peonies this year isn’t good. “Quality is mediocre to poor and at times not worth cutting at all. Prices were good indeed, but I hear growers saying they’d rather have normal prices for good peonies than bad peonies with high prices.” According to Vernooy wholesale buyers were more tolerant because of the lower supply. “There were no complaints about for example the lower leaflets this year, they simply pulled them off. That’s something which you wouldn’t see in other years.” Vernooy says this season has asked a lot from growers. “Phytophthora struck mercilessly in some areas, there’s a lot of hail damage, on sandy soils in the east there was wind and frost damage and April saw fields flooded with water. In the near future we’ll be looking for solutions to handle phytophthora, see what we can do with plant resilience. There’s a lot going on.”



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