Europe is currently experiencing a severe brassica shortage after “extreme weather” killed off much of this year’s crop, with the UK one of the worst hit nations.
Damaging spring frosts followed by record June rainfall destroyed crops in Lincolnshire, England and alternative European supplies wilted in last month’s burst of heat.
Prices of cauliflowers in particular have soared as a result and many farmers have suffered crippling financial losses. While other brassica —including cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts— are also in short supply.
The British Growers’ Association (BGA) has described the situation as “very concerning”.
“Crops can withstand a reasonable amount of variation in weather,” the association said. “But the conditions in June were too much and as a result crops have suffered.”
Six inches (152mm) of rain came down in the space of a few days earlier in June.
“We effectively had three months of rain in the space of three days, so anything that was planted up until that point in time [including the cauliflowers and broccoli] was either washed out of the ground, or sat for several weeks in flooded fields,” said Martin Tate, commercial director of brassica growers Lincolnshire Field Products.
“For some farmers, a year’s work was destroyed in one week of rains,” said the BGA.
“In an ordinary year, parts of Europe would make up any shortfall in the UK supply chain, but Europe has been experiencing its own weather extremes,” it said — severe frosts earlier in the year ravaged European fields, and were quickly followed by a wet summer punctuated by short bursts of intense heat:
“These extreme variations don’t make for ideal growing conditions,” the BGA noted.
For more on the “Swings-between-Extremes” brought on by “The Changing Jet Stream,” click below:
What’s more, there has been a reduction in planted area due to poor returns over the last few years, the BGA added. With the ‘Beast from the East‘ and then a hot summer putting pay to last year’s open–field crops. “Growers only grow just enough for their customer programs and when there are issues due to the weather, this leaves a shortage which cannot be filled,” it said.
Supplier Nature’s Choice, a London-based supplier for some 400 restaurants, said it is already telling clients to take cauliflower off the menu until stocks recover.
Director Vernon Mascarenhas told the Guardian: “We are having to search everywhere for supply. But they are extremely costly, with prices at the wholesale level reaching £3 a cauliflower when the normal price is capped at around 60p.”
Prepare for the extremes.
Grow your own.
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