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Cauliflower harvest smashes records

Good weather and low rainfall has led to an unexpected major glut on cauliflowers with low levels of disease meaning more crops have been harvested.

Organic veg box company Riverford has delivered a record 230,000 cauliflowers since the start of the year, compared to just over 7,000 in the same period last year when heavy snow disrupted growing and supply.

“Everything programmed for February, March and April seems to have come to harvest point all at once,” said general manager of South Devon Organic Producers (SDOP) cooperative, Caroline Westacott. “The weather of wet and cold followed by warmer and sunny has just pushed the go button.”

Hannah Croft, crop forecaster at Riverford, said the glut of cauliflowers is good news for consumers. “We’ve had no real rainfall and no real frosts – the plants are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do. Unfortunately, it just puts a lot of pressure on us. Forecasts are based on averages, so when you have an exceptional year you can throw averages out the window.

“I still think it can only be a good thing to give customers a UK product grown within 30 miles of the farm.”

Purple sprouting broccoli has also benefited from the mild and dry weather. Riverford has harvested almost 40,000 kg this year, compared to 2,900 kg in 2018, and the flavour and quality are exceptionally high, Croft said.

There had been concerns that there would be a shortage of staple British vegetables during this period as a wet autumn had halted growing at the start of the year. But improved weather conditions and a mild early spring has catapulted plants into action in an unexpectedly bountiful start to spring.  

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