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Michael Barker

BY MICHAEL BARKER

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Weather devastates British carrot crop

Supply set to tighten and prices expected to rise after 'perfect storm' of poor weather drives down volumes

Weather devastates British carrot crop

Agronomist Howard Hinds

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Carrot growers have warned of a supply crisis lasting up to a year after poor weather decimated British crops.

According to the British Carrot Growers Association, adverse conditions will bring the lowest yields in decades and the highest level of imports. And that puts supply in jeopardy, with many countries across mainland Europe having also suffered.

The so-called 'Beast from the East' produced excess rain throughout the spring, delaying planting by a month and reducing the growing season by around 18 per cent. That has been followed by the hottest summer since 1976, creating the worst possible conditions for carrot production. 

To make matters worse, water restrictions have meant irrigation systems have had to be shut off, with leading carrot agronomist Howard Hinds estimating that the crops he manages will yield 30-40 per cent less than last year.

“The UK is traditionally self-sufficient in carrots with around 97 per cent being supplied by British growers," said British Carrot Growers Association chairman Rodger Hobson. "In fact, the British carrot growing industry is respected worldwide for its ability to produce ‘fresh-from-the-field’ carrots 52 weeks of the year. However, we have suffered the ‘perfect storm’ of poor conditions this year.

"Carrots grow best at temperatures around 15-18°, but this summer we’ve had daily averages of 25-32° and the carrots have just stopped growing and are wilting in the fields. This weather has hit all the major growing areas of Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Fife.”

Hobson said all major carrot growers agreed the poor yields will push up production costs and sustantial imports will be required. "Carrots are undoubtedly the ‘nation’s favourite vegetable’ and will still remain great value in terms of the nutrition and health benefits they provide. However, it is almost inevitable that the price in the shops will go up,” he added

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