In Late April, Dutch Tulip Bulb Farmers Chop Off the Flowers’ Heads

As the end of April approaches, Dutch tulip farmers prepare for “topping,” when they run cutting machines through the fields across the north and west of the country, lopping off the colorful flower heads and leaving the stalks and plants to wither. Throughout the month, the tulip fields are in full bloom and tourists flock to various famous flower-garden attractions to see the year’s designs and spectacular new strains. To the uninitiated, “topping” may look like senseless destruction. But in fact, it’s all part of the tulip’s growing cycle, as the plant then diverts its energy to the still-living bulb underground, which will bloom again. The reinvigorated bulbs are harvested in mid-summer and sold to growers for planting in the autumn. In this photo, farmer Piet Warmerdam picks up a yellow tulip from a red flower field in Den Helder, Netherlands, as its growth could damage the rest. (Reuters/Cris Toala Olivares)
Dutch, tulip, flowers
A tractor tops the tulips at a field in Den Helder. (Reuters/Cris Toala Olivares)
Laborers lay down upon a field to cut off the tulips that remained uncut by the tractor. (Reuters/Cris Toala Olivares)
An aerial view of tulip fields in Den Helder, Netherlands. (Reuters/Cris Toala Olivares)