Advisory & Knowledge Transfer
Cut foliage is a new term to many people. It describes the decorative branches cut from Eucalyptus, Pittosporum and many other ornamental plants and forest trees for use in bouquets and other flower arrangements. World wide demand in developed countries is increasing and prospects for continuing expansion of the small Irish industry for export markets are very good.
The main production plantations are currently located in southern counties of Kerry, Cork, and Wexford with smaller areas in Waterford & Kilkenny.
There is no doubt that conditions in the south of Ireland gives growers a climatic advantage over cut foliage producers in much of Northern Europe. By selecting sheltered sites, the relative freedom from frosts and cold winds means growth starts earlier and continues late into the year giving rapid growth rates of healthy superior foliage. The lushness and quality of Irish foliage is now recognised by most buyers in the market.
Growers of foliage vary from farmers with mixed enterprises to those who have specialised in the business. 2-3 ha can provide maintenance, harvesting and processing work for one person working full-time. It is a useful winter crop when other crops are not being harvested and also provides employment at that time of the year.
Given the interest from the market, there is a need for more foliage. There is support by way of grant aid from the Department of Agriculture for those interested in getting into the business provided Teagasc are satisfied with the land and area and that potential growers follow a strict protocol in regards to management and harvest which has been developed for the key species. It can cost €5000 to €12000 per ha to establish a plantation depending on the species and system of production and the returns can be in the region of €3000 to €7000 per annum from the third year onwards.
Teagasc provides a number of services to cut foliage growers including on-farm visits, office, email, and telephone consultations, advisory and research newsletters, business & financial planning & knowledge transfer events such as workshops and field discussion group gatherings.
If you are interested in hearing more about the enterprise or would like to become involved as a grower of foliage, contact Andy Whelton – Teagasc Cut Foliage Specialist.