Brussels sprout growers hope for cold

Early sprouts lead to concerns over size, yield and disease control in the run-up to Christmas.

Brussels sprout growers are hoping for a cold spell to carry their crop over to Christmas, according to British Brassica Growers Association chairman Philip Effingham.

"It's a time of plenty right now," he told Grower. "After a good growing season, crops are looking well. Predatory pests such as whitefly haven't been as problematic as they might have been.

"But it's all running forward. There are already a lot of sprouts ready and you want a colder spell to keep them that way. Growers are currently sitting on them, but they could get caught out."

NFU horticulture board chairman Sarah Pettitt, who is also a brassica grower, said: "Brussels sprout supply is looking quite good through to March.

"In common with other brassicas, they are about two to three weeks early, thanks to the dry early summer, which is a concern as it will mean smaller sprouts, which will affect yield."

She added: "Growers need to keep on top of disease control now as we move into more variable weather."

Looking towards the Christmas market, Pettitt said: "What we need is good demand from the consumer, but not at promotional prices. Right now there are buy-one-get-one-free deals on Savoy cabbage for 84p. Those costs will be borne by suppliers, and growers will be getting back less than their production costs."

She added: "There is non-UK product coming in earlier than we would have liked, such as broccoli coming in from Spain."

However, Effingham said that this supply from abroad was "normal for November".

Cauliflower Traditional meal decline?

"There is plenty of cauliflower about with December-maturing varieties coming into cut, but demand is not as strong as it ought to be," British Brassica Growers Association chairman Philip Effingham said.

"My view is that the cost of staples such as meat and fish is pushing many shoppers away from the traditional meat-and-two-veg meals and toward pasta and rice dishes, which are cheaper," he added.

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