Bulgaria's historic rose industry sees early blooms

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STORY: Welcome to rose oil country.

:: Cherganovo, Bulgaria

Bulgaria is one of the top global producers of the fragrant oil, used in various consumable products and in the cosmetics industry.

Farmers this week were busy harvesting petals... about a month earlier than historical norms due to climate change that has ushered in warmer and more humid springs.

For one gram of rose oil, more than 1,000 petals must be plucked by hand.

Farmers have to get to the fields early, as the content of essential oil is highest around 7 a.m.

Todor Nikolaev is the chief technologist at the Terra Roza distillery.

"In general, it takes about 3 tons of rose flowers to produce 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of rose oil, this year it was a little better and the results are significantly more favorable for the producers.”

Nikolaev says the right combination of heat and humidity is crucial for the quality of the petals and oil.

This year’s improved output was due to an unseasonably warm winter and a very warm March, he says.

Historians say the flowers have been cultivated as crops since the 5th to 3rd century BC, with the first oil factory opening in 1820.