A lot of people are asking me why are palms in such short supply this year. Why are they so expensive ? Why cant I get more ? Is it because of Brexit ?
Its not a simple answer , this year and last are in fact perfect storms.
EU Directive 2017/1279 of 14 July 2017 was where this all began. In order to stop the spread of insects and diseases , a zone system was introduced. The UK was declared a pest free zone for Red palm weevil and the Paysandisia moth which had been ravaging palms on the continent. With immediate effect it became impossible to buy palms from almost all suppliers. Most palms could only be bought if grown in quarantine areas or areas designated free of pests. To qualify for export palms needed to be quarantined for 2 years , and of course nobody in europe was willing to construct enormous quarantine areas at great expense and sit on stock for 2 years waiting to send it to the UK. This is the crux of the problem and by far the most significant reason why palms are so short in supply today.
More recently Olive trees were added to the zone system because of a bacterium called Xylella which threatens our native oaks.
Then last year along came the pandemic. Nobody going on holiday , nobody spending money, sat at home and garden makeovers galore trying to recreate their own little slice of the mediteranean in their back garden. Demand for palms skyrocketed. I literally sold my years stock of palms in the first 6 weeks of lockdown. Given how short supply was, there was soon no supply to be had. The exact same thing happened this year with the second wave of the pandemic. The limited supply that could be acquired disappeared in weeks.
This year also we finally left the EU. No private individual could buy direct from a european palm seller any longer because it required a Phytosanitary certificate and checking by DEFRA. The dutch who had been busy laundering unquarantined palms through their giant hubs to garden centres have been finding it much more difficult now that Phytosanitary certificates are required and checks made. Nobody can go to Spain and fill a lorry and drive it back without anybody knowing which was going on as well until the end of last year. Then also there was the problem of plant sellers couldnt travel to find more plants because of travel bans.
All of the above have squeezed supply further and the limited supplies that did exist are nowhere near enough to supply the insatiable demand we have seen during the pandemic.
So what happens next year ? Hopefully I will soon be able to get on a plane and go and find new stock . My main supplier tells me no problem for next year , everything is ok. With the pandemic hopefully over and demand returning to normal I would hope normality returns.
Will you be able to buy a large range of palms ? The simple answer is no , that ended in 2017 with EU directive 2017/1279. In the future it will mostly be the more common commercial palms in sizes that can be grown in pots rather than field grown.