All 15 members attending the HTA Ornamentals Committee meeting last week reported they were ahead of budget with strong demand for UK grown stock across amenity and retail sectors.
Geoff Caesar, the committee chair, said: “It was felt that given all the challenges and uncertainty with regard to the economy that ornamental production had fared very well. Strong sales have meant that businesses are in a positive mood although there is widespread recognition that the sector has a number of real issues to deal with in the times ahead.”
Shortage of labour – both agency and permanent staff – is proving a challenge across the country. As a way of addressing this, several businesses are looking to take a more flexible approach by recruiting more permanent part-time workers.
Several businesses spoke about opportunities for mechanisation, although the requirement for capital investment meant this was still a few years away.
With new legislation coming into force in December 2019, plant health is a key concern. HTA horticulture manager Alistair Yeomans explained how he is engaging with APHA on plant passporting in order to get clarification on arrangements. He updated members on the current status of the Plant Health Assurance scheme and the work that the work of the Plant Health Biosecurity Alliance.
Among the other issues discussed were plastics in horticulture, growing media, pressure on water resources and packaging recovery notes.