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Extreme weather hits broccoli and caulis

Extreme rain, hail and flooding has caused havoc for cauliflower and broccoli harvests in some parts of the UK with farmers facing thousands of pounds in lost income.  

As much as one month’s rainfall fell in 24 hours in parts of Yorkshire in July, while Lincolnshire received 230 per cent of the expected rainfall in June according to the Met Office, with farmers starting to report major crop losses.

The BBC reported that there is a cauliflower shortage following the heavy rain, as the majority of the summer cauliflower crop is grown in Lincolnshire.

Founder of organic veg box company Riverford, Guy Singh-Watson, said: “Most of our vegetables are from the south west, or outside of the main veg growing areas, where the rain has not been so severe.

“We regard cauliflower as an autumn or winter vegetable so grow relatively few at this time. There is a lot of other produce available.”

While growers in the south west did not face severe rain and Riverford is not facing any shortages on cauliflower, its growers in other parts of the country were affected.

Broccoli
Broccoli harvests have been hit in northern England.

Yorkshire-based organic farmer and Riverford supplier, Jake Richardson, lost around two thirds of his broccoli harvest when part of his field flooded.  “In the last few weeks it’s been incredibly wet and part of the broccoli field flooded. We had a months’ worth of rain fall in 24 hours,” he said.

“We were quite lucky compared to some of our neighbouring farms. Only 20 minutes away they had hail the size of golf balls. It’s been a bit drier this week but we’ve got more rain forecast.”

In total, Richardson said he has lost around 20 out of his 35 acres of broccoli this year, with most losses caused by a stressful spring growing season and extreme variation in weather, followed by the recent flooding. As well as the damage to broccoli, he lost a couple of acres of spinach due to waterlogged fields. “We take the hit, there’s nothing else you can do,” he said.

It’s not the first abnormal cauliflower supply issue this year – in March, warm weather in the South West led to crops arriving early in an unexpected spring glut

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