As the UK enters a cooler period over the coming weekend, there are warnings that the situation for farmers is now becoming serious.
Rob Clayton of AHDB told the BBC’sWake up To Moneyprogramme: “This year growers have had the Beast from the East, then they’ve had it so hot and so dry this summer.” This means that reduced yields, coupled with a 3 per cent reduction in the planted area will reduce crop availability. “Our options are limited. It means prices are going to be a little bit higher right the way through until next spring,” he added.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielsen, shortages of vegetables have increased food price inflation to 1.6 per cent in July, compared to 1.2 per cent in May and June. The average price of a head of broccoli is around 25 per cent higher than this time last year, while carrots are 8.3 per cent more expensive in supermarkets. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC says that, “The hot, dry conditions we have seen … mean the pressure on prices will continue for some time to come.”
At the same time, Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers Association has called on retailers to work with growers during the continued dry weather. “There will certainly be less production and higher costs for growers and this will continue to affect winter crops as well as those planted in the spring,” he stressed. “At the moment it is too difficult to make predictions about where we will be in four month’s time. It is impossible to predict what will happen next year and Brexit adds more uncertainty for producers.”
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, told the broadcaster, “The situation on the ground is hugely challenging across all sectors. There could be serious concerns for many farmers if this extended spell of warmer, drier weather continues. This unprecedented spell of weather really should be a wake-up call for us all. It’s a timely reminder that we shouldn’t take food production for granted.”
The post Effects of heat wave on farming getting serious appeared first on Hort News on 9 August 2018.
While rains over the weekend have provided some respite to growers around the country, the industry is warning that the prolonged heat wave, which left some areas without rain for almost three months, will have longer term effects on the availability of vegetables across Europe.
Warnings have already been issued about the yields of traditional ‘winter’ veg crops such as carrots, onions and potatoes, but brassica growers are also warning of breaks in continuity and areas which have been too dry to allow the planting of winter crops.
Greville Richards, managing director of Southern England Farms, told the Fresh Produce Journal: “We’ve got some areas in Cornwall now that we just can’t plant because it’s so dry and we’re getting quite concerned now about our winter crops… we’re getting really worried about what we’re planting now for the winter months because it’s just getting too dry to plant.”
A number of potato growers have already said that they are unlikely to fulfil contracted volumes, and it is unlikely that suppliers will be able to import crop from Europe to fill the gap. The German Association of the Fruit, Vegetable, and Potato Processing Industry says that it expects a smaller, lower-quality potato crop, while the Swedish Farmers Association estimates its members could lose SEK8bn (~EUR 7.79bn).
Photo Caption: The canopy on many potato crops is still not meeting across the rows.
Photo Credit: flickr
The post Heat wave will affect winter veg harvest at home and abroad appeared first on Hort News on 1 August 2018.
As the hot dry weather continues, retailers and wholesalers are continuing to import fresh produce, including salad and brassica crops from across Europe to fill the gaps created by UK crops.
There are reports that even farms with irrigation are struggling as temperatures in excess of 30 deg. C are stopping plants from growing. The British Leafy Salads Association has said that yields are around a quarter of normal for the time of year, while demand is up 40 per cent.
Tony Clemence of Total Produce told The Guardian that the firm was currently importing 30% of its iceberg lettuce and 40% of its celery from Spain and Poland, while the same report said that the firm’s newsletter had warned there is ‘currently no alternative country of origin available” for Tenderstem broccoli and that supplies of fine beans, mange tout and sugar snap peas were low and their quality “intermittent”.
At the same time Spanish producers have warned that they cannot meet all the gaps created by the weather which is affecting much of Northern Europe. Ginés Navarro, of Murcian salad producer Agridemur, said, “Many of the companies we work with in the winter are demanding products from us, especially spinach in the United Kingdom.
“Like most other producers of leafy vegetables in Murcia, our productions are mostly scheduled based on contracts, both in winter and in summer. It is true that there are producers that grow for the free market in winter, but in summer, practically everything is intended for the domestic market and is already programmed. That is why there is little we can do.”
Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures
The post As weather continues, Spain struggles to fill the gaps appeared first on Hort News on 23 July 2018.
A solution to help farmers to grow crops in dry areas or during stretches of drought may depend on breeding and cultivating plants that protect themselves with a thicker layer of leaf wax, a new study from the University of Southern California suggests.
Sarah Feakins, a scientist at USC who has studied leaf wax in the context of climate change, teamed up with researchers at Texas A&M University to research and develop drought-resistant crops. During tests with winter wheat the team found that the cultivars in a high and dry area of Texas generated more protective wax on their leaves to protect themselves against more extreme conditions.
“Water conservation depends on innovation, and in this case, we are hoping to find one solution by identifying the traits in this important food crop that would enable the plants to tolerate drought and still produce plenty for harvest,” explained Feakins.
All plants produce wax that helps their leaves repel water and shield the plant from insects and the elements. In the trials scientists grew 10 cultivars in two different locations under three different irrigation regimes. The team compared the leaf wax of all the plots to gauge their drought tolerance.
“We see a strong effect in the higher and drier location,” Feakins said. “We see the plants adapt to their environment and to better protect their leaves, allowing them to respond well to reduced irrigation.” It is hoped the work will help in the breeding of crops which are more drought resistant.
Photo Caption: Plants with waxy leaves are more tolerant of hot and dry conditions
Photo Credit: Flickr
The post The key to drought-tolerant crops may be in the leaves appeared first on Hort News.