The British asparagus season has ended after heavy rainfall put paid to any hopes of an extended season for 2016.
Traditionally due to end on the 21 June, Midsummer’s Night, the season has been extended slightly by some growers in the past two years, according to one buyer.
Matt Jones, senior buyer at foodservice supplier Reynolds, said “waterlogged” asparagus fields meant picking was halted. “People didn’t foresee the weather so they didn’t plan for adequate imports, “ he said. “The majority of people would be relying on the UK crop until the end of this month, but some growers have already completely finished. There is no back up on imports because it’s already contracted elsewhere.”
Polly Akielan, of British Asparagus’ marketing agency PamLloyd PR, said the season finished on time. “The season was late starting, but it finished as usual on 21 June. Some years growers can extend the season, but ideally no later than that.
“However, there were some issues around retailers who were stocking imported asparagus at the height of the British season,” she said, adding: “The season went well, production is expected to have been around the same as last year.”
Jamie Petchell, director at asparagus and soft-fruit specialist Global Plant Genetics, said the fact the season started late meant some growers would expect to finish later.
“It depends on the grower, but the whole season has been tough, which was mostly weather-related,” he said. “The mild winter meant there wasn’t enough chill for the spears, and then the weather during the season was against it. Any field that wasn’t protected has struggled. It’s not been a record season.
Petchell said he hadn’t noticed more imported product than usual, but said it’s always surprising to see the amount of imports in end-of-season data. “It always leaves you feeling that there is more potential in the UK sector,” he added.