Blooming yellow apricot flowers have Saigon farmers in a sweat

For flower famers in District 12, Thu Duc City of HCMC, business this year is as weak and delicate as their yellow apricot blossoms, which have bloomed too early.

Saigon, apricot, blossoms, Tet

Apricot garden Phuong Binh, a 7,000-square-meter site hosting more than 3,500 apricot trees, has seen 1,500 trees popping out, while the first day of the Lunar New Year is Feb. 12.
Tran Duc Tinh, 42, from An Giang Province is tasked with trimming petals. "I have been working here for three years and apricot flower blossoms this year have ‘made too early a start’ for Tet," Tinh said.

Saigon, apricot, blossoms, Tet

Nguyen Ngoc Phuong, a 43-year-old apricot garden owner, caresses his blooming VND500 million ($21,700) yellow apricot tree. He ascribed the early blossoming to an extra 13th lunar month this year.
Phuong is one of a dozen apricot garden owners in Thu Duc City and An Phu Dong Ward of District 12 to suffer from this untimely blossoming.

Saigon, apricot, blossoms, Tet

Yellow apricot flowers attract bees hungry for nectar.
The owner also pointed out that abnormal weather conditions were another contributing factor. "The sudden change from sunny, dry to rainy weather has made trees suffer from temperature shock and bloom sooner".

Saigon, apricot, blossoms, Tet

Besides the adverse weather conditions, the fact restaurants, hotels, bars, clubs, and companies have been dealt a hard blow by Covid-19 has significantly decreased apricot plant sales.
"The route to Cambodia’s market is blocked due to the pandemic. Domestic markets in Hanoi and northern provinces seem to fare no better since people are tightening their belts. Estimated loss this year might reach VND15 billion ($650,000)," Phuong said while examining his apricot trees one by one.

Saigon, apricot, blossoms, Tet

Worried by the pre-Tet flower bloom, garden owners decided to hire seasonal workers to take care of their plants.
"Apricot trees are fragile so we have to remove leaves, trim branches, get rid of zinc wire and replace pots in order for them to have more vitality," said Thu, a worker in an apricot garden in Thu Duc.

Saigon, apricot, blossoms, Tet

All green buds have to be removed so the plants could flourish for Tet next year.

Saigon, apricot, blossoms, Tet

After trimming, "skeletons" of yellow apricot trees are transferred to a special care unit. Several trees here, worth up to VND300-600 million ($13,000-26,000), have died because of the unexpected weather conditions.

Saigon, apricot, blossoms, Tet

Healthy plants expected to bloom on Tet are watered and sprayed with pesticides.

Saigon, apricot, blossoms, Tet

According to garden owners, a yellow apricot tree costs from around VND2-3 million to hundreds of millions (VND100 million = $4,300).
The price for hiring one from Dec. 20 to Jan. 10 on the lunar calendar ranges from VND20-80 million ($867 to 3,470).

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