The area of non-leguminous field vegetables in salad being grown in the UK fell nearly 10 per cent between 1 June 2015 and the same date this year, according to Defra's latest Farming Statistics bulletin, published today (13 October).
The area of field veg went down from 83,000 to 75,000 hectares, while that of peas and beans dropped from 40,000 to 36,000ha. However the 2015 area was around 6 per cent higher than that for 2014.
The area of orchards dropped 3.2 per cent to 25,100ha. But edibles grown under glass rose 3.3 per cent in area to 1,993ha. The glasshouse area recorded as not in production fell by 22 per cent to 139ha.
The total utilised agricultural area of the UK has remained broadly stable since 2010, at just over 17.2m ha.
Failure to secure sufficient supply of seasonal labour would not only cripple Britain's thriving soft-fruit industry but would hit affordability and availability of a healthy everyday food, according to a report by agricultural consultancy Andersons Midlands for industry body British Summer Fruits (BSF).
British top fruit growers concerned about the impact of this season's late frost can take some comfort from the situation on the Continent, where according to analysts, damage to tree fruit is at least as bad.