Fragrant Rose Production for Small Farm Income Supplement
The start of the project was delayed when Davis moved from a farm in Olsburg, KS to a farm in Randolph, KS in April of 2003. Since extensive work needed to be done to prepare the new site for planting, Davis re-evaluated the roses she was buying. She decided to purchase “own-root” virus-indexed roses instead of grafted roses. She explains: “These ‘own-root’ roses are only available as first year plants, which means they arrive as a ‘twig’ rather than a ready-to-flower plant. These were planted in early June 2004 and were not encouraged to produce flowers the first year (summer 2004). Own-root roses are much more winter hardy and produce more branches, which results in more flower production. Although virus-indexed roses are hard to find (only one supplier in the US in 2003), research revealed that virus-free stock would live for much longer periods of time and result in healthier plants with a longer production period and higher disease resistance. (Grafted roses from infected stock may live 10 to 15 years versus non-virused roses, which can live for 100 years.)”
Since the virus-free, own-root roses were not available as larger ready-to-flower stock, it took a year for the plants to become established. Davis expects rose production to be good enough in 2005 to start marketing the flowers. She believes the plants will reach their full production potential in 2006.
Davis will conduct an informal study of the vase-life of the roses she grows in 2005. She has tentatively planned a workshop for rose enthusiasts for June 2005, which will feature an outside speaker who specializes in growing heirloom roses.