19 Sep 2008

Ban on flower exports to US could hurt lily growers

10:36 pm on 19 September 2008

The Calla Council says it hopes the United States market will re-open to New Zealand flowers before the lillies' export season resumes in January.

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

Biosecurity New Zealand says trade in greenhouse grown flowers will be able to resume once growers have been inspected and cleared, but trade in outdoor flowers will be suspended for months until a pest-management programme is drawn up.

Calla lillies are the country's second-biggest flower export, contributing around $7 million to the economy, and most of the tubers are grown outdoors.

An executive director of the Calla Council, Cate Thompson, says some growers may miss out on securing good prices for their lillies, if the United States market remains closed.

She says some flower exports that are not being sent to the US will go to Hong Kong and Dubai.

But she says the majority will go to Japan and anything that is not sold on fixed order is put on the Japanese auction floor.

She says this means growers may not get as higher price as expected.