‘Ognissanti Crisanti’; a production and sales recap on Italy’s quintessential remembrance flower

The Chrysanthemum has long been a symbol of love and remembrance, with demand in Italy for spray, disbudded and pot mums the greatest around All Souls’ (Ognissanti) and All Saints’ (i Morti).  Asproflor, the trade association for ornamental horticulture in Italy’s northwestern Piedmont region, has the details.

In May, a state of emergence was declared in the northern Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy, epicentres of Italian Chrysanthemum production. Heavy storms caused deadly flooding, landslides and buildings.  In both regions, there has been widespread damage to greenhouse structures which naturally impacted supply volumes.

Extreme weather and climate change also affected plant health with Chrysanthemum growers recurring to biological crop control such as mycrorhizal fungi to improve soil and crop. Eventually, overall quality did not disappoint.

Asproflor compliments the country’s growers on their achievements in a crop notoriously known for being labour-intensive, lengthy and not always easy to schedule.

In the run-up to 1 and 2 November, when Italians flock to graveyards in their thousands to pay respect to those who have died, Italian sales outlets saw an influx of spray Chrysanthemums which sold between 1,30- 2,00 € per stem. Disbudded varieties changed hands for 3,50- 6,50 € per stem. Garden mums in a 12 and 20/23 cm pot retailed between €4 -€5 and €15 – €20, respectively.

Total national supply volumes of pot mums accounted for 9 million pots in varying sizes, 10 million stems of spray chrysanthemums, and 7 million disbudded varieties, representing a 10 per cent drop in production compared to last year.

“Italy has deep roots in Chrysanthemum growing, and the flower continues to be a top selling and widely used product to commemorate those who have died,” notes Sergio Ferraro, president of Asproflor and Comuni Fioriti, Italy’s annual community in bloom competition.

According to Ferraro, Chrysanthemums make up 25 per cent of the annual turnover of Italy’s seasonal Chrysanthemum growers who combine the golden flower with other crops. Asproflor values the total retail value at €250 million per year.

Sicily, Puglia, Campania and Lazio are the leading production regions regarding cut Chrysanthemums. In turn, Liguria, Toscana, Piedmont, Veneto and Lombardy are the regional heartlands of pot mum production.

In Piedmont alone, an estimated 100 nurseries grow around 800,000 stems of cut Chrysanthemums and 1.5 million pot mums annually on a combined area spanning 70ha.

“Ognissanti is always an extremely busy period for grower and retailers. Fortunately, great autumn weather ensures a timely delivery of products,” notes Ferraro.

But balmy autumn days cannot hide the clouds that hang over the country’s ornamental horticulture sector. Ferraro concludes, “Soaring commodity prices, climate change; growers are navigating multiple crises. The most significant challenge, apart from riding the vagaries of the weather, are the social, business and economic changes post-pandemic.”

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