2 Nov 2008

US flower trade set to bloom once again

9:46 pm on 2 November 2008

The Flower Exporters' Association says it's relieved that the United States is letting New Zealand grown flowers back in, because further delays could have cost the industry substantially.

But it says new standards which have been imposed on growers may be too costly for some to continue exporting to the United States.

The US Department of Agriculture suspended all imports of New Zealand cut flowers and foliage in September after a moth pest, the light brown apple moth, was found on a shipment of flowers grown outdoors.

While exports of cut flowers and foliage grown indoors had already resumed, exports of flowers grown outdoors were only allowed back into the US from November 1, following the development of a risk management programme for outdoor growers wanting to export to the USA.

A spokesperson for the Flower Exporters' Association Greg Keymer, says these new standards will require commitment from growers and a higher standard than some growers are used to.

He says in the past growers have sprayed crops with whatever chemicals they thought were appropriate to keep the insects under control.

But Mr Keymer says there are particular chemicals that will need to be used to spray flower crops to prevent light brown apple moth.

He says from now on growers will need to adhere to a strict spraying regime and there will be random sampling of crops to ensure the chemical has been applied correctly.

Mr Keymer says the medium to large sized growers will consider the US an important market and absorb the cost and get back into business as soon as they can.

But he says smaller growers may say it's too difficult and try and find an alternative market.

Mr Keymer says a modest shortage in the market may improve the price.

He says while it's not yet known how much the export ban may have cost the industry, things could have been much worse if the ban hadn't been lifted in time to send off the million dollar peony crop which is now ready for export in the South Island.