Dutch tulip farmers are cutting flowers early causing a huge financial loss because so many tourists are turning up in defiance of the quarantine in order to take photographs of the huge fields covered in blooms.
Local police said they had tried putting up barriers, roadblocks manned by police officers and chasing people away with drones and megaphones, but none of it had worked.
Tractors have been seen driving along and beheading the flowers in Holland’s famous Bollenstreek region, which translates as the bulb region, which is located between Leiden, The Hague and Haarlem.
This region which includes the cities of Lisse, Hillegom, Katwijk, Noordwijk, Noordwijkerhout and Teylingen is the heart of the countries for industry and at this time of year when the flowers are fully in bloom it attracts traditionally large numbers of tourists.
This year they were told to stay away, but many ignored that and now farmers have been the beheading the flowers early in order to prevent further visitors. The flowers are usually beheaded later so that the tulip can use its energy in developing the bulb and making it healthy instead of wasting energy on the flower. The bulb is then harvested and sold.
Normally they take their time, each flowers checked for viruses or mildew to ensure the quality of export, with certificates needed for imports in many countries around the world show their healthy, and by hurrying the process of missing this out in order to discourage tourists, there are many places they will now no longer be able to sell the bulbs.
Flower farmer Simon Pennings from Noordwijkerhout confirmed they were rushing the process so that the flowers in the field disappeared, “making them less attractive”.
He said that because of the quarantine rules they had “expected to have a quiet Easter, but it was far from it”. He added: “We put barriers around the fields on Saturday, and the council closed roads but half an hour later the people were back in the fields.”
He said the fact that people are unable to stay at home themselves meant that they were forced to start removing the flowerheads.
He added that it was not the ideal solution but the last thing they wanted to have in the region was another “mini coronavirus outbreak”. He said: “Normally we always enjoy the attention that the flowers bring, but at the moment this is the wrong time for that to be happening.”
A spokesman for the local councils in Lisse and Hillegom confirmed that other flower growers were doing the same thing, saying: “Normally they leave the flowers for as long as possible to let everyone enjoy them, but the growers now want to do something to fight the corona virus and the visitors in the area.”
They said that the movement over the Easter weekend has significantly reduced the number of visitors turning up to take pictures.
But it is also had a financial consequence for farmers, according to the council spokesman.
They said: “Normally we have to inspect the flowers before we head them. That is because a certificate is required for export to certain countries, stating that the colour is good and that the flowers are healthy. We had to skip that inspection by heading the flowers earlier. As a result, we can export our flowers to far fewer countries.”
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