May 9, 2012

One particular flower here at our San Luis Rey farm is certainly near and dear to my heart. The Riceflower is a delicate and beautiful shrub from Eastern Australia.

Riceflower is pretty distinct looking. Our very best cultivars have long, slim, straight stems that branch into numerous flower heads. The heads are relatively flat but with dozens of pink or white buds that open into tiny, papery-textured flowers. It should be no surprise that the Riceflower belongs to the Daisy family.

Our Riceflower is propagated from cuttings here at Mellano & Company; seedlings we find to be invariably more difficult. In our eight seasons of farming Riceflower, we’ve come to perfect our formula for a robust crop. We allow for two feet between plants and a good seven feet between rows in our drip-irrigated acreage. Not overwatering this plant is critical to its success. Actually, there are two things for which Riceflower shows much disdain: 1) wet feet, and 2) root-knot nematodes! I know, I know—the common roundworm is usually quite beneficial for controlling other pests. But it’s downright lethal to the Riceflower. So is water-logged soil. So, yes, good drainage is essential.We’ll typically start harvesting our Riceflower in mid-March. Each variety flowers at its own unique rate, so, here again we must monitor them regularly, even daily as harvest approaches, because timing is so key. Buds picked too young will surely droop. On the other hand, if left in the field too long, Riceflower opens up to the rays of the sun and the flower’s quality drops off sharply. Once picked and bundled, a 1.5 pound bunch is graded to 80cm.

Okay, so to recap, here’s our formula: Precise Timing + Ample Drainage – Roundworms = A Superior Crop of Riceflower. Until next time, may you enjoy your Riceflower blooms!