Farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta have managed a good supply of flower and ornamental trees for the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) festival despite the long and heavy flooding the region suffered last year.

But as it happens often, their good work does not guarantee them a good price.

The delta's well-known flower villages of Cho Lach and Sa Dec has been a beehive of activity the last fortnight with people working hard to decorate, trim and pack the flowers, flowering plants and ornamental trees.

The warm weather of late has helped the farmers. "Flower buds on my apricot trees have grown well thanks to warm weather during December [last year]. I am having a very good crop," said Nguyen Van Lai, a farmer in Cho Lach District, Tien Giang province.

Since the first days of the year, Lai began pruning his trees and removing the aluminium strings that he had used to shape the trees. Lai has 1,000 pots of apricot trees and he hope to sell each at 1 million VND (49.9 USD) or more in HCM City, Binh Duong and Ba Ria – Vung Tau provinces.

Meanwhile, farmer Nguyen Nhat Minh has just sold 105 apricot pots to a buyer. He said some buyers agreed to buy all the output of a farm in case they have grown well and have a lot of buds that will bloom in time for the festival.

The price of apricot pots depends on age of the tree, its shape and number of buds that are set to bloom during the festival days.

However most delta farmers are saying they are not profiting as much as they did the previous Tet because of price hikes in fertiliser, transportation fees and site charges for exhibiting their products for selling.

Minh said the selling prices are determined by buyers and dealers. He said the buyer who purchased his plants will get double the price because they sell them in HCM City .

A dealer who did not want to be named said prices cannot be higher than last year because consumption demand is lower this year.

Kumquat farmers have also had a good crop this year. Since the coming lunar year is the year of dragon, some of them are creating ornamental kumquat trees in shape of dragon, apart from the traditional shape of a pine tree.

Le Van Tri, a farmer who has 1,000 kumquat trees of various sizes in Sa Dec Town, said he believed that the kumquat fruits on his trees will turn yellow from green in time for Tet.

He and other seven farmers working for him are busy pruning and shaping the kumquat saplings.

Tri said he does not know much about the final price of his trees. He sells the big ones in his collection for 2-3 million VND each.

Other kumquat farmers also said price hikes in many necessary items meant less profit this season.

While ornamental tree growers said they are enjoying a good crop but less profit, farmers growing flowers like chrysanthemum, marigold, and dahlia are afraid they will suffer losses from this crop.

Tran Van Tho, a farmer growing these flowers in Sa Dec Town said the floods had affected his little plants, causing many of them to die, have stunted growth or less buds.

He said he only hoped revenues from selling the plants would recover his investment.

Similar hopes were expressed by farmer Nguyen Thi Le in Cho Lach District who has 15,000 dahlia pots. /.