In late April, Dutch tulip bulb farmers chop off the flowers' heads

AMSTERDAM, April 24 (Reuters) - 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 attractions such as the Keukenhof flower garden in The Hague to see the year's designs and spectacular new strains.

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Netherlands tulip fields
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Netherlands tulip fields

An aerial photo taken on April 19, 2017 in Lisse near shows the tulip fields of Keukenhof in full bloom.

(JERRY LAMPEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Farmer Piet Warmerdam picks up a yellow tulip from a red flower field as its growth could damage the rest, in Den Helderin, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

An aerial view of tulip fields in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

People visit the tulip fields in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

A tractor cuts off the tulips at a field in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

An aerial view of tulip fields in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

Red tulips are growing at a field in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

A field of blossoming tulips in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

An aerial view of tulip fields in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

Farmer Piet Warmerdam cuts off tulips at a field in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

An aerial view of tulip fields in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

A sign reads "Tulips from the country" near a road in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares )

Sunrise is shining upon the tulip fields in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

A man rides his horse near tulip fields in Den Helder, Netherlands April 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares)

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To the un-initiated, the "topping" that follows may look like senseless destruction.

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. (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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