Unusually hot May weather makes rose harvesting season start too early

Due to the unusually hot weather in early May this year, the rose harvesting season started two weeks earlier than usual and is now in its height. Over the entire Valley of Roses near Kazanlak one can smell the aroma of the oil-bearing rosa damascena.

The yield is expected to be good – rose bushes are covered in bloom all over. Nevertheless, rose oil producers are alarmed – there is a risk the hot weather might evaporate some of the aromatic oils and thus reduce the oil content of the rose blossoms. Which means their selling price will fall. 

It is not clear yet whether the slightly cooler temperatures in the last ten days of May will be enough to save the situation. In mid-May the producers expected due to the dry weather the crop to drop by 20 per cent. Last year was extremely good for this sector. There was high demand for the aromatic flower in the world as the price of one kilogram of rose oil reached the record high 6,000 euro. It is expected this year’s production will reach up to 1.5 tonnes of aromatic oil with some 2 tonnes in the best years.

In Bulgaria currently, over 3,600 hectares of rose crops are raised. The growing unemployment in the country made it easier this year to solve the problem of lack of rose pickers. In hot years like the current one the blossoming of the roses happens in a shorter period of time and almost simultaneously in all regions which requires stronger concentration of manpower. The picking of the rose blossoms usually provides temporary employment to some 60,000 people, usually pensioners and whole families. 

Bulgaria is the second biggest producer of rose oil in the world after Turkey as in certain years it tops the chart. The Bulgarian rose oil is considered to be of the highest quality because of its rich palette of 275 aromatic microelements.

The raising of the oil-yielding rose damscena in Bulgarian lands started in the 18th century. For the past two decades, the areas covered by rose bushes have been on the rise, reaching the amount of some of their best periods. From 1,400 hectares in the early 1990s until today rose gardens have grown twice. We see the same trend with the price of Bulgarian rose oil at the world market which for this period has also grown twice.

Bulgaria provides 40 per cent of the rose oil used in the world’s perfumery industry as our main markets are Japan, France and the USA. 

Adapted from Bulgarian National Radio