Peat prices may rise in 2010 following poor harvests this year

The price of peat may rise next spring after harvests fell this summer. With the season almost over, wet weather for a second successive year means stocks are low.

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said: "Because of supply and demand, peat could become more expensive. It has been a bad harvest, which has affected what is available."

Scotts general manager Martin Breddy said: "Harvests have been 50 to 70 per cent of a normal year."

He said stocks have declined but "we're not at the point where we can judge what will happen (to prices). In October/November we'll take a view, which is very late for the season ahead."

Sinclair managing director Danny Adamson said prices would rise by "single-digit percentages", adding: "Harvests for us were better than last year because we got out earlier in April and we have additional bogs bought from Metcalf in east Lancashire. We have what we need for next season but we would have liked more. We're one-third short of expectations and would have liked to have built resources. Last year we had to buy in from abroad. This year we won't have to. We've been investing big six-figure sums in peat replacement but ultimately we still depend on half-decent weather."

Garden centres were still keen to hang onto cash, he added, and their pre-season orders were as small as in 2008, when the recession hit, leading to a rush in the spring.

Briercliffe said Defra minister Hilary Benn must use the industry's Growing Media Association to help cut peat use; Benn is rumoured to want to ban peat ahead of next year's election as a vote-grabbing measure. "The only way is from within the industry - consumers are not interested," Briercliffe said.


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