What is cut foliage?
Cut foliage describes the decorative branches cut from Eucalyptus, Pittosporum and many other ornamental plants and forest trees for use in bouquets and other flower arrangements, it is a new term to many people. World wide demand in developed countries is increasing and prospects for continuing expansion of the small Irish industry for export markets are very good. Twenty five growers are currently exporting over €5 million of greenery providing much needed employment in harvest and processing in rural counties of Kerry, Wexford and Waterford. Teagasc, Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland are confident that DAFM Food Harvest 2020 targets of producing foliage valued at €20 million and generating 300 full-time jobs in rural Ireland can be met.
Ironically at a time when there is overproduction of many farm commodities, the demand for high quality, well graded cut foliage to export markets is buoyant. UK and Dutch packers and distributors need high volume supplies and peak periods like Christmas and Valentines are seeing significant increases in demand for cut foliage year on year. Due to this demand plantings have been supported by grant aid from the Department of Agriculture and the current area stands at 220 ha. There is no doubt that the climatic conditions in the south of Ireland gives growers a clear advantage over foliage producers in much of Europe
Support from Teagasc
Effective technical and research support is proving vital to the success of this new enterprise. When ornamentals are mass planted they become much more susceptible to pests and diseases. More sustainable control measures fostering eco-friendly production is a major cornerstone of the current research programme in Teagasc.
There is a continuous need for a stream of new material that is market led as buyers & customers are constantly looking for innovation with new products displaying different textures, colours and scents in a discerning and competitive market. Teagasc leads this work and is engaged in evaluating a wide range of ornamental plants in the south of Ireland with potential for foliage. A 1 ha site at Kildalton College is dedicated to screening new species.