Morotsuka Village Networking and sharing techniques to promote ranunculus cultivation
- Ranunculus cultivator Yasuko Fujimoto
The large flower that blossoms proudly on mountain terrain
It takes roughly 30 minutes of climbing through a narrow and winding mountain track from the heart of Morotsuka Village to reach the Ido Gardening Area of the Nanatsuyama District.
There are nine greenhouses on this cleared land, and Yasuko Fujimoto grows ranunculus in one of them.
We visited her in late February, when the whole nation was experiencing cold weather. There was still snow in this area at an altitude of over 700 meters.
Ranunculus harvest peaks from February to March, and Fujimoto ships out about 30 thousand ranunculus every year.
We visited around noon, and she had already finished shipping out the flowers for the day.
Fujimoto currently grows 17 kinds of ranunculus in her greenhouse.
As ranunculus cultivation makes excellent use of the high altitudes and warm, sunny climate Miyazaki is blessed with, the prefecture has been making efforts to promote the cultivation of the flower and push for the development of original ranunculus species for over ten years.
Now with ranunculus cultivation spread to the mountain regions of the prefecture, Miyazaki ranks in among the nation's top in both production volume and cultivation area. (As of 2017)
Grow them straight and healthy to achieve perfect beauty
Fujimoto had no experience in ranunculus cultivation when she conducted her first test growing of the flower in 2009.
"At the time, I had only seen them growing in flower pots and did not know much about them. I was surprised when I learned that they grow as tall as they do."
Ranunculus grow to be over 50 centimeters tall.
And by that time, layers upon layers of delicate petals will have grown to form an impressive blossom.
The ranunculus comes in a variety of shapes and colors, and every year many new species are developed.
One ranunculus flower can grow up to over two hundred petals.
Flowers that bend down or break from the sheer weight of the petals have to be pruned, as they cannot be shipped out.
"We can't ship out the ones that blossom to the side like sunflowers, although they are very pretty to use as decoration."
Only the ones that grow straight from the ground and blossom proudly towards the sky are given a chance at the market.
Although the ranunculus is widely grown in the mountain areas of the prefecture, Fujimoto is currently the only one cultivating it in Morotsuka Village.
Fujimoto joined the Ranunculus Research Society, which was founded for the purpose of promoting ranunculus cultivation. Fujimoto and fellow cultivators of neighboring towns and villages exchange information, and together they visit flower fields in Nishiusuki, an advanced region in ranunculus cultivation.
"We talk about what species are popular and which ones grow straight, and so on. We can help each other by doing so because I think we all face the same kind of problems."
Ranunculus cultivation calls for painstaking care and thorough control of water and air temperatures. The sharing of knowledge among cultivators has been an integral factor in the steady course of progress ranunculus cultivation has followed.
The heated scissors, which she began using only two days ago, is a tool Fujimoto learned about at a training session in Nishiusuki. As the scissors' blades heat up to over 100 degrees Celsius, the nifty tool automatically kills off viruses at the same time it cuts.
"When the flowers are infected by viruses, the color of the petals may come out inconsistent, and the flowers will generally be unhealthy. Till now, I had used a different pair of scissors for each species. Plus, if I'd notice that a certain flower is infected, I would change scissors. And each time I'd finish using a pair, I had to sterilize the blades with a burner, so this is quite a game-changer."
Many floral scissors were placed on the poles at the end of the ridges.
"There isn't much flat land around here, so it surely won't be easy for someone to begin growing ranunculus here. But the Ranunculus Research Society has steadily grown in membership over the last decade. Recently, we've been having the welcome addition of young cultivators, and that's very comforting to know." Fujimoto has high hopes for the future of this beautiful flower.
This year, the flowers are blossoming later than usual due to low temperatures.
But despite the cold, Fujimoto walks the mountain path every day, and the ranunculus she grows with great care are surely developing their blossoms.