Vegetable growers are warning of possible shortages in the new year after this year’s series of extreme weather conditions led to low yields.
Growers of carrots, brassicas, onions, parsnips, potatoes and leeks have reported a drop in the size of the vegetables and yields after a year that has seen delays to planting because of freezing temperatures and an exceptionally wet April and a scorching summer that halted growing at best.
Leek Growers Association chairman Tim Casey said some growers were already reducing deliveries to customers in an attempt to give crops longer in the field, but growth was so slow that yields had reduced by 23%.
He said normally the UK would expect to import a proportion of its leeks to make up for shortfalls, but similar conditions across Europe meant this was not an option this year.
A Lincolnshire parsnip grower, who declined to be named, said the extreme summer heat caused six weeks of growing time to be lost on the back of the wet spring that forced the delay of planting to May and the beginning of June instead of the usual April.
He said: “Everybody tries to play it down but there will be a shortage after Christmas. Most packers are trying to save the best for the lead-up to Christmas.”
Rob Clayton, from AHDB Potatoes, said tattie yields are estimated to be down up to 20% this year. He said consumers were likely to see smaller potatoes that cost a “few pence” more. He added: “We’re not going to see empty shelves, but what’s on those shelves might look a little different.”
British Growers Association chief executive Jack Ward said industry was looking at an overall drop in yields of about 20%, although the “jury is out” on Brussels sprouts because they were planted at the end of July or early July and the crop was still growing.
But pumpkin growers for Tesco have reported a bumper harvest with the retailer set to sell 2 million pumpkins this Halloween – a 5.4% rise on last year.