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2017 Oriental Lily Harvest
When can I order and plant your Oriental Lily Bulbs?
Beginning in fall of 2017 we are cutting back on the early harvesting of Oriental Lily bulbs. Because our growing season in the Pacific Northwest is getting shorter and shorter each year, with less heat over summer, Orientals simply need more time in the latter part of the season to finish maturing, harden and firm up for harvest. Without going into the debate over global warming/cooling/climate change, we have found that the Oriental lilies on our farm are emerging later in the spring each year, blooming normally in July/August, but are not starting to plump up and mature until mid or late October. Leaves are staying green until much later than usual, which means the lily bulbs are still using them to grow a bigger bulb.
Fortunately, these cooler growing seasons have not affected Asiatic, Trumpet, or Orienpet hybrids and they are thriving during our cold wet springs and cooler summers, which now seem to be the norm for Western Washington State. The last two years we've had only 4 to 6 weeks of what would be considered “warm” temperatures, which is a case of too little and too late for early harvest. While the pure Orientals are not maturing fast enough, Asiatic, Trumpets and Orienpets have been surpassing harvest predictions. This trend of cooler springs in Holland is also why much of the Dutch growing of Oriental lilies now is in the Bordeaux region of France, plus Chili where summers are warmer and more conducive to producing Oriental bulbs than Holland.
Temperatures that we once experienced in July are now only showing up during the month of September. In fact, there were two days during the fall 2016 harvest that it was simply too warm for the bulbs to be exposed to air temperatures, even in the shade, and digging was halted. Long gone it seems, are the dog days of summer we enjoyed with cool, overcast days for harvest and rain threatening at any time.
Since Oriental bulbs are no longer reliably ready for a mid to late September harvest, this creates a problem. It takes time to dig, clean and package your bulbs for shipping. We need for your bulbs to be delivered during reasonably mild weather, so you can plant, plus not be frozen in transit across the USA. Having just one or two bulbs that are not yet ready to harvest leaves orders partially unfilled and delayed. Lily bulbs left until after first frost in October last year not only were plump and juicy, but they had fully formed noses and were more than ready to go, which is too late for most of our customers to safely plant before winter.
Rather than fight Mother Nature, Oriental lilies are now being scheduled for harvest November and December - after our fall shipping is completed - in order to insure the highest quality bulbs for all our customers. This means that only Asiatic, Trumpet and Orienpet lilies are listed in the Fall 2017 catalog. However, should July and August become warm enough, any varieties ready ready for the regular September harvest will be found listed under “Web Only”. Please note that the difference between the same lily bulb planted in fall vs. spring, is that the spring planted bulbs will be about 1/3 shorter and about 10 to 14 days later to bloom the first season, and will adjust to normal height and flowering times the following summer.
Fall Oriental Update 7/1/2017 As of this writing, 1 July 2017, it appears that 'Casablanca', 'Cat's Eye' and 'Salmon Star' will all make size and mature in time for the early Fall harvest. All are showing buds at this time and are fully 4 to 5 weeks ahead of last years development. Thanks to the past two weeks of mid to upper 70's as well as the lack of an overly wet June, they are right on tract for fall delivery. More Orientals will be added as the summer progresses.
Bulbs can usually be added to any current order up until a few days before shipping to your area. For our web- only listings, click here.
Wild Lily bulbs making up the genus Lilium belong to the family Liliaceae comprising of approximately 200 genera made up of approximately 2,000 lily species. There are in the neighborhood of 110 to 120 Lilium species depending on whose classification you reference. For the full article, click Knowledge Base