Wet weather hits harvests hard

Wet weather in the first half of September has played havoc during the busy harvest season for many major UK crops.

Calls made to growers across the industry have shown that high levels of rain have slowed or even halted harvests across the UK for many crops.

Carrot grower Guy Poskitt of MH Poskitt in Goole, East Riding, said: "We are struggling to harvest carrots. Probably the biggest concern is finding enough straw to cover them for the winter, because the harvest has been so bad people are cropping it whenever they can."

According to the Potato Council's weekly newsletter, the wet weather has caused havoc across the UK. In Scotland 120mm of rain fell in the second week of September, and limited lifting took place, mainly for seeding. Field conditions in Yorkshire and the North East were described as "diabolical". Conditions were slightly better farther into the eastern counties. In the West Midlands, land conditions have been atrocious, with lifting only possible on limited occasions.

Chairman of the Brassica Growers' Association Philip Effingham said: "Since the school holidays have finished, demand has jumped. But we are finding cauliflower and broccoli in tight supply at the moment. The autumn crops look OK so far, but with broccoli there's always a concern of wet rot when it's damp."

After industry requests, environment secretary Hilary Benn has granted a temporary exemption from the waterlogged soil regulations until 4 October, allowing farmers to take machinery out onto fields despite saturation, which is helping farmers to bring harvests in on time.

A representative for Shropshire-based fresh herbs producer JK Fresh Produce said: "We grow a lot of coriander and you cannot cut it while it's wet. And there's no growth in it, especially as there's not been much sun during August."

David Piccaver of British Leafy Salads said: "There's been a drop in demand because of the wet weather, and disease is starting to cause us a few headaches."

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