French Tasmanian rose production stamp pays dividends in cut flower market
When buying a bouquet of roses, are you looking for color or freshness?
Maybe it’s the shape of the rose or the length of the stem?
There are many genetic traits that flower breeders select to ensure that roses grown for the cut flower market arrive at their final destination in optimum condition.
Some of these traits originated in France by international breeder Meilland.
Matthias Meilland said the company is working with growers around the world to develop commercial roses, including in Tasmania.
“The game is that it’s selected here for conditions in Australia and specifically Tasmania,” he said.
“It’s productivity per square metre, disease resistance, can it withstand heat shock and rain shock?
“Something that can be selected here can go to Japan or Mexico at high altitudes.”
Family floral collaboration
Meilland has worked with the Lee family of Tamar Valley Roses in northern Tasmania for over four decades.
Each year, between 10 and 20 new French varieties are tested at the Rosevears farm for their commercial suitability.
Plant material can take up to six months to pass Australian quarantine before reaching the property.
Andrew Lee is responsible for hydroponically growing over 60 varieties in large greenhouses.
Each greenhouse can hold up to 38,000 plants and produce 400,000 rose stems each year.
Flowers are sent throughout Australia.
Queensland is the biggest buyer.
“It’s interesting – until the pandemic, around 90% of Australian flowers, of all types, were imported from overseas,” Mr Lee said.
“Thanks to the pandemic and the reduction in flights, many flowers grown in Australia have returned to the market, which is definitely sustainable in terms of CO2 miles.”
The fragrant roses return
Have you noticed that roses in a bouquet don’t have much fragrance?
This is because other genetic traits for cut flowers, including longevity and disease resistance, are more dominant.
But with more and more consumers asking for a scent in their rose, Meilland is investigating how genetics can be selected to amplify scent.
“The market is increasingly in demand,” Mr. Meilland said.
“It’s not the producer who asks, it’s not the wholesaler and it’s a bit like the florist.
“So we have a program right now in France with the universities to see what kind of genetics is behind the perfume.”
Meilland said the company’s research has shown that fragrant flowers do not lose their vase life.