The ABC of Picking Flowers from Kenya for Supply to World Markets

Of the 1.45% horticultural contribution to the national GDP, flowers from Kenya contribute an overwhelming 1.01%, using 2015 statistics. But how do they attract such a sizable margin in especially European, North American and the emerging Australian markets? It all boils down to careful family grower and large-scale farming methods, which this article highlights next. Here, you will learn why you should opt to import more from the country to support a hard-working supply chain model.

The growth of flowers necessitates a lot of input as far as labor is concerned. In Kenya’s Rift Valley, most flower farms employ farm hands, mainly women, who work for daily wages.  As much as labor is necessary during the growth period, it is even more so during the picking, conditioning and bouquet-fitting duration. Here is a basic guideline on picking, selecting and  cutting flowers from Kenya following world standards:

The picking time is usually at dawn up to mid-morning. This is the duration when flowers are at their freshest bloom and the stalks are water-ridden. This ensures that they can remain unaffected long after the sun sets in.

The picking of flowers around midday and beyond can lead to a wilted condition. When they find it is unavoidable to do it in the sun, local farmers may resort to dipping the stems into a bucketful of water immediately after cutting.

Cutting itself takes place in the same manner as pruning other plants. However, in this case the expert harvesters avoid cutting heavily, owing to the delicacy of the plants. They usually pick more of the developed shrubs while selecting just a few from the still developing plants.

Picking requires the use of a sharp cutting tool while the picker wears protective gear in the hands. Indeed, certain flowers have lethal juice if it enters into an open wound. Others may lead to itches for people with allergies and thus the need for gloves. Kenya flower suppliers also enforce hygienic cutting tools per the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate (KePHIS) guidelines.

The maturity indicators that tell the best time to pick Kenya flowers includes the season when they begin to just reveal some vibrancy of color. In certain cases,  like for the rose,  harvesters may have to wait for the bloom to loosen up rather than picking when the flower is in tightly closed bud. Otherwise, the flower may not develop to full bloom when it is already cut. Another criteria of maturity is when the flowers have formed a certain geometrical shape. Some form spikes, others round, overlapping designs and so forth. It is a recommendation, however, to have some patience for the flowers to open up prior to picking them.

Finally, Kenya flowers undergo conditioning to keep them fresh before shipping.  This way, you can avail roses or carnations that you can proudly display in shop windows or even across gala shows or weddings somewhere in Europe. To do this, local conditioning  experts follow a few steps to add value to the ensuing bouquet:

▪Local pickers defoliate all leaves beneath the water surface during the dipping process in the sun. This retains the freshness of the flower as in this condition it will not decompose from below.

▪In many cases, Kenya florists cut their flowers again after delivery from the farm using a sharp blade, ensuring a firm clean sweep so that you will receive a symmetrically cut flower.

▪To ensure the straightness of the stems of flowers, especially in the tulip family that have large blooms and delicate stems, florists usually enclose the stems in a newspaper before immersing them through the night in water. By morning they will not need any further support.

Thus, from picking to presentation, Kenya flowers undergo many careful and delicate processes. Depending on the way a florist arranges the blooms into a bouquet, these flowers may even add value for the seller, owing to their good conditioning right from the farm, through the cutting process and finally their fitting into the display material like a vase.  At Selina Flowers, we believe that flower presentation is more than meets the eye, and we do all it takes to make them fresh, sizable and world-quality for your needs.