The world's largest daffodil grower says it has been forced to let hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of flowers rot – as it can't get pickers due to Brexit.

Varfell Farms produces around 500 million stems a year and needs around 700 staff to work at the farm to keep up with demand.

But owner Alex Newey said the combination of Brexit and pandemic restrictions has meant they have been unable to attract enough workers.

And he said the farm near Penzance was no longer able to operate correctly and a fortune was being lost in rotting stock.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "We can’t harvest them, we don’t have enough pickers to pick them. We’re losing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“We have significant recruitment drives for local workers to come and harvest crops.

"It’s idealistic to think that because of Covid and the higher than usual unemployment rates that those people would come in and do that work.


“I would say that a daffodil harvester is to be highly respected because the work is very hard.

"You’re out in the cold weather, it’s in Cornwall, it blows pretty hard down there. It’s wet and you’re bending over picking daffodils for three months.

“Frankly, the people that we’ve had to come and do this work, the locals, may last a day or two days, but they certainly don’t last two or three months.”

Alex said that a seasonal worker pilot scheme offered a hope to the industry, but currently that was only in practice for edible food stock.

Workers pick daffodils Picture from file: SWNS

Workers pick daffodils Picture from file: SWNS

He added: "The seasonal worker pilot scheme will allow workers from outside of the EU – that’s the important bit, outside the EU – under a visa scheme to come in and harvest food crops.

"There is significant pools of available workers from places such as the Ukraine, Moldova and further afield in South America.

“But for the time being that’s only for edible crops. It does not include ornamental crops. By definition, flowers are excluded from that.

“I have to say the responses are positive and we are hopeful that the ornamentals sector will be included in the scheme, but as yet it hasn’t happened. In any event, we’re too late for this flower season.”