When buying a rose bush, you may have sometimes thought that the price was pretty high. But suppose YOU were producing them. What would you want for a plant that had gone through these various stages of development and growth?
So join me for some armchair day dreaming. Let’s indulge in some flights of fancy; just suppose that YOU decide to become a rose grower.
You will find rose bushes produced over a wide area: Arizona, California, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas, to name some of the leading areas in alphabetical order.
While operations will vary some, here is about what you could expect if you followed your day dreams and became a rose grower.
You will first need substantial acreage of some desirable ground. Deep sandy loam would do, and just in case nature forgets you, it is desirable to have some way of irrigating your crop if necessary.
Now are you going to be strictly a grower of existing varieties, or are you also going to be a hybridizer and develop some of your own patented varieties? Of course this phase of rose growing is fascinating especially when you realize that it requires thousands of tests and trials. Maybe, after years you will come up with a patentable winner. If you do, and it should become popular, you can license others to grow YOUR rose on a royalty basis.
You should go into this with your eyes open, of course, and realize that even though you make many crosses, you may NEVER have a successful one. Maybe we’d better leave that to the experts in that field, many of whom have spent a lifetime at it. You’ll grow the standard roses.
In some areas they start from multiflora seed, but most use cuttings. So, for the first year you will need a source of cuttings for root stock. Most growers use three forms of Rosa multiflora japonica. One has a trailing tendency, one a spreader, and one grows more upright. The advantage of using the three kinds is their different maturity rates, thus enabling you to prolong the budding season. But that is a year away yet.
Your cuttings will be about six to eight inches long, of semi-mature wood. You’ll go over each with a sharp knife removing all but the top two or three buds. You’ll need about 16,000 cuttings per acre. It is to be assumed that by now your field has been prepared, so first you lay off the rows to 54 inches apart. You can use a coulter behind a tractor to open up a slight trench; or you can use a dobber to make the holes about six to eight inches apart.
Now you stick the cuttings into the soil, leaving only about a half inch above the surface. You can see now why you need a loose sandy soil, not only to stick the cuttings in, but also to firm easily around the cuttings. There must be no air left around these. If the soil is too dry, you must also water these in.
During the year (you hope most of these strike roots), all you need do is fertilize, spray and cultivate. In June or the next fall you are ready for budding onto the root stocks the various varieties of roses you wish to produce. The first year, of course, you will need a source of budwood. These are first dethorned and the buds are sliced off with a sharp knife, just skin deep.
So with your bucket of budwood, you go down the row again. Just at the ground surface you make a T cut in the shank of the developing cutting of the multiflora plant. This cut should just go through” the bark. You peel back the lower lips on the “T end and slip the bud in place. (Point up, of course.) The bark is pulled over the bud and held in place with a piece of rubber. This in time rots off as the bud takes and the plants grow.
Now another year of cultivating, dusting, spraying, fertilizing, applying pesticides, etc. In March or April when the buds have “taken” and start growing, you again go through, this time cutting off all of the multiflora branches, including the one on which you did the budding, just above the bud. When the bud shoots are well started they are topped to force branching. Be very careful with fertilizer and pesticide application rates at this stage.
By fall you are ready to start digging. If you dig before a freeze has knocked the leaves off, you have to deleaf the plants by hand, or some use a gas, heat, etc. But when you have a good freeze, your harvesting begins in earnest.