Grower confidence is reaching rock bottom
Brassica growers in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Cornwall and Scotland are assessing the impact of record volumes of winter rainfall on winter crops. Parts of Lincolnshire experienced half their annual average rainfall in the last three months of 2019 and the start of 2020 has been no better.
We may be in the depths of winter explained Jack Ward of British Growers, but brassica production should be in full swing. This is prime season for cauliflowers, savoy cabbages, kale, spring greens and Brussel sprouts. These are classic winter crops providing our staple vegetables during the winter months.
At a recent meeting, UK Brassica growers compared notes on the impact of the weather on their crops and the toll which 2019 and the first half of 2020 has and is likely to continue having on production. In the short-term crops like cauliflower, kale and Savoy cabbage are in reasonable supply but poor growing conditions in the autumn mean that these crops will start to run short in February and March. Excessive rain has depressed yield and increased disease levels and across the board and production levels are down dramatically.
And the bad news continues. Late cauliflowers due for harvest in April and May will be affected and are likely to be in short supply. And a similar picture is emerging for spring greens which fill the traditional hungry gap from April through to June. Some fields in Lincolnshire have wet patches where crops have died out as they struggle to survive, this will continue to affect crop yields up until the new season starts in June.
Grower confidence and a willingness to continue investing has been badly hit by two consecutive seasons of difficult conditions. Production costs have continuously outstripped returns and loss-making brassica crops are forcing growers to ask difficult questions about the future. Brassicas areas are declining with growers looking to lower risk cereal crops as a safer and more profitable alternative. There needs to be an urgent review around the sustainability of grower returns and the level of return required to invest effectively for the future. Lines, likes broccoli which demand high levels of labour input in the packaging process are especially vulnerable to increasing costs and in adequate returns.
There is a cruel irony here explained Jack Ward. As we embrace the importance of vegetables in the diet and recognise the need to increase our consumption of vegetables and fruit, our brassica growers are contemplating exit strategies rather than increased future investment.
We need to rethink the supply model for vegetables. While cheap vegetables may look like an attractive proposition, some of the current pricing models fall well short of allowing growers to meet the true costs of production. Ultimately this is eroding our supply based and productive capacity. This is not where we want or need to be as we move into a brave new post Brexit economy.
Love Your Greens, Brassica Growers’ Association
BGA House, Nottingham Road, Louth, Lincolnshire, LN11 0WB
telephone: 01507 353791 fax: 01507 600689
email: email@example.com website:www.loveyourgreens.co.uk
Non-Executive Board Members Application
Covent Garden Market Authority Team (CGMA) at DEFRA are currently recruiting non-executive board members. The CGMA is a public statutory corporation that runs the UK’s largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and cut flower market in the UK. Located at Nine Elms in Vauxhall, the market is currently being rebuilt to create a brand new world class facility that will be at the heart of a vibrant new Food Quarter for London.
The CGMA Board provides leadership and strategic vision as the organisation focusses on the successful delivery of this exciting redevelopment project.
The campaign is now open with a closing date of 10th February 2020 at 12:00. Applications are to be made through the Cabinet Office Public Appointments website:
17th December 2019
UK at risk of running low on carrot supplies after heavy flooding
- More than half of UK carrot growers have been hit by recent flooding.
- Producers in the main carrot growing regions in the North of England and the Midlands have been unable to lay down straw to protect crop from frost.
- Growers say now real risk of the UK running low on domestic carrot supplies next Spring.
British-grown supplies of carrots – the UK’s favourite vegetable – are at risk of running low next Spring after the recent heavy floods, growers warned this week.
More than half of the UK’s carrot-growing areas have been hit by the recent flooding, which continues to prevent them from being able to put straw down to protect the crop from potential frost damage.
Commercial carrot growers across the North of England and the Midlands including Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Lancashire, have all been affected.
The harvesting of carrots is continuing, but flooded land has prevented growers from using the machinery and equipment necessary to spread straw. Growers are warning more wet weather or a frost could wipe out large amounts of the UK’s carrot harvest.
Coral Russell, from the British Carrot Growers Association, said:
“The flooding has caught a lot of growers out. It has stopped them spreading straw as they usually do at this time of year. They [the growers] are sitting on a wing and a pray and hoping that we get a dry weather spell to be able to put down straw to protect the crop.
“More than 50% of the carrot growing area in the UK has been affected. The only exception being those grown in East Anglia and Scotland. If we have a frost now or more wet weather then all the carrots that are not covered with straw will get damaged and be unsuited for the market. They’ll be rotten.”
Mark Strawson, from Nottinghamshire, and one of the UK’s biggest carrot growers, said:
“Unlike 2018, this year has generally proved to be an excellent growing season for carrots with both quality and yields above average. However, since mid-September unprecedented levels of rainfall have made field operation extremely difficult with very few entirely dry days recorded over an 8-week period. The worst affected areas are the East and West Midlands and Yorkshire where soils have been at field capacity for several weeks.
“This protracted wet period has not allowed growers to cover crops with straw which is vital to protect them from frost over the winter. With such a small area protected to date and field conditions remaining poor there is a very high risk of crop loss should the weather now turn cold. Such a situation would severely disrupt supplies to retail customers.”
For further information or to arrange an interview with Coral Russell at The British Carrot Growers Association, please contact Tom Levitt at Jane Craigie Marketing on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07815 904 253.
Notes to Editor
Carrots are the nation’s favourite vegetable with 75% of Britons saying they regularly eat carrots and more than 10 billion carrots eaten every year. British-grown carrots are available all-year-round, with 93% of the ones we consume currently grown in the UK.
The British Carrot Growers Association (www.britishcarrots.co.uk) represents producers across the UK’s commercial growing counties of: Suffolk, Lancashire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Shropshire, Yorkshire and Scotland.