|Ochna blossoms are on sale on Thanh Thai street in HCM City. Gardeners in the Mekong Delta region who cultivate unique fruits and flowers in preparation for the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) are suffering from low productivity due to unusual weather conditions. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai
HA NOI (VNS)— Gardeners in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region who cultivate unique fruits and flowers in preparation for the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) are suffering from low productivity due to unusual weather conditions.
Phu Tri A agricultural extension club, located in Phu Tan ward in Chau Thanh district in the southern province of Hau Giang, specialises in moulding and carving grapefruits into the shape of bottle gourds (calabash), gold bullions, and maps of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands.
But this year, heavy rains have affected grapefruit growth. Grapefruit trees had shed their leaves, and flowers had blossomed sooner than usual, said Vo Trung Thanh, the club's leader.
The club's grapefruit garden has also been attacked by insects that destroyed 60 per cent of the fruits. Only one-third of 10,200 grapefruits have been shaped successfully, Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Countryside Today) reported.
Vo Hong Quoc, a club member, said he could only shape between 200 and 300 grapefruits this year, compared to 700 last year.
Quoc is also the owner of the biggest dao tien (crescentia cujete) garden in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region.
Due to the difficult shaping techniques and severe weather, the number of shaped dao tien this year will not meet market demands in the North, where this kind of fruit is highly favoured.
In Ninh Thoi ward in Cau Ke district of the southern province of Tra Vinh, only 400 grapefruits (half of the shaped fruits) were successfully created, compared to over 1,000 last year.
"The weather makes grapefruits unable to grow, although we have put down fertilisers and sprayed chemicals," said Bui Chi Linh, leader of Ninh Thoi ward's shaped grapefruits co-operative.
Early and late flower
Meanwhile, Ochna blossom growers also feel pessimistic about the flowers' early blooming this year.
Pham Van Hieu, a resident of Long Tuyen ward in Binh Thuy district of Can Tho city, said only about 500 trees were left in his garden, far fewer than the more than 1,000 trees in previous years.
Lunar New Year will occur in February, but ochna blossoms have already bloomed. On average, each tree has three to five clusters of flowers. If the heat endured and rainfall was recorded, trees were expected to lose their leaves and flowers would continue to blossom, he said.
Cuc mam xoi (chrysanthemum morifolium) growers are also worried that their flowers would not blossom in time to be sold for the holiday.
Le Thi Hanh, a gardener from Vinh Thanh ward in Cho Lach district of the southern province of Dong Thap, said that only leaves had sprouted, but few flowers had bloomed. Growers have found spots on the leaves.
Gardeners in the region were trying to use methods to stimulate the flowers into blossoming, she said.
According to Bui Thanh Liem, head of the agriculture and rural development department of Cho Lach district, the poor harvest season is due not only to weather conditions, but also the result of seed degeneration throughout the seasons.
"We are studying to create new seeds in an attempt to mitigate the impacts of weather on productivity," Liem said. — VNS