Advanced warning limits storm's impact on growers

Last month's storm had only a limited impact on southern England's growers, coming as it did after most crop seasons were over.

West Sussex Growers' Association executive consultant John Hall said: "We got hit hard but no one has reported serious damage. I'm amazed there wasn't more."

Lea Valley Growers Association secretary Lee Stiles said: "Nearly all our members lost some glass - at least 1,000 panes must have been replaced. But you expect to lose a few and it wasn't devastating. There was more damage to older houses, which are less robust, and there has been some structural damage where trees have fallen."

Advanced warning enabled growers to "close vents, remove loose objects nearby and close glasshouses to staff", he added.

Prior notice also enabled Kent soft-fruit grower Hugh Lowe Farms to remove polytunnel covers early, said managing director Marion Regan. "We were very nearly at the end of picking anyway, with maybe two or three weeks left. It was a shame given the late start to the season to then have to cut it short. But the end of the season is always about balancing risk."

Top-fruit growers were similarly spared, said horticultural business adviser and National Fruit Show chairman Sarah Calcutt: "There was only some second-pick Braeburn left to bring in, which is now on the floor. Some trees were blown over or lost branches."


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