Tomato yields holding up despite season's dull weather

Despite light levels being four to five per cent down this year, yields have held up for some tomato growers although production has varied more than usual around the country.

Tomato Growers' Association (TGA) chairman Nigel Bartle - who is also nursery manager at Cornerways Nursery, Norfolk - said demand had suffered through the unseasonal summer weather. "It was looking OK up to June/July but August was poor."

With the current economic climate and the public perception that food prices had increased, growers were coming under further pressure to "do it cheaper", Bartle added.

British growers had to continue to deliver the message that their tomatoes were the best, he said.

Consultant Gerry Hayman said he felt that the industry was at a tipping point. "You can't absorb 100 per cent increases in costs and receive no more for your product," he said.

"We have done it in the past by increasing yields but we haven't got that option now."

He added that while the industry had lost many of its smaller growers, those that are still producing on a smaller scale had survived by selling locally to speciality outlets.

Bartle said his appearance on the BBC television series Jimmy Doherty's Farming Heroes had helped to portray the industry in a positive light and had led to other media making contact with the TGA.


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