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The Globe and Mail

For Colombian rose growers, Valentine's Day is hardly a holiday

Colombia is the source of most of the roses imported into North America. That means hundreds of millions of the long-stemmed flowers must be picked, processed and packed in the weeks leading up to Feb. 14.

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A worker prepares roses for export before Valentine’s Day at Elite Flowers in Facatativa, Colombia, Feb. 6, 2013.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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A worker transports roses for export at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota Feb. 5, 2013. In the U.S. this year, customs officials had processed 842 million cut flowers by Feb. 6, ahead of Valentine’s Day.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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Workers prepare roses for export at Elite Flowers. Valentine’s Day is marked on Feb. 14.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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A worker selects roses for export at Elite Flowers in Facatativa. A troubled global economy has some growers in Colombia worried about this year’s crop.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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A worker selects roses for export at Elite Flowers. About two-thirds of the flowers imported to the U.S. this year came from Colombia.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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A worker prepares roses for export. Ecuador is the No. 2 source of flower imports for the U.S., with about 23 per cent of the total.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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A worker picks roses on a farm in Facatativa Feb. 6, 2013.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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Workers pick roses in the fields at Elite Flowers in Facatativa.

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A worker selects roses.

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A worker prepares bouquets.

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Elite Flowers workers prepare shipments of roses. Miami is the port of choice for most U.S. flower imports, processing about 85 per cent of the national total, according to U.S. Custom and Border Protection.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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Each rose is gently treated before selection.

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A worker stacks roses for export at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota Feb. 5, 2013.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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A worker pushes packages of roses for export at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota Feb. 5, 2013.

JOHN VIZCAINO/REUTERS

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A florist arranges flowers in Los Angeles in this file photo.

LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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