How Is This Hot Summer Affecting Produce?

It is typical that the morning I sit down to write this is the first morning we have had any sign of rain in Devon for weeks! However, the last few days have been muggy and sticky and thunder is forecast which is needed to clear the air. I’m also not sure this smattering of rain is going to come to anything other than a very light shower.

Last year with the extended hot spells and with over 60 days with no rain there were all kinds of problems for growers across the UK.  Many plants stop growing once temperatures surpass 25°C, and even for those that do better in a warmer climate, there is the struggle of irrigation.

On average, the wholesale prices for lettuce have risen 22% year on year, as the long spells of warm weather have increased demand by 40% – everyone loves a summer of salads and BBQs! Unfortunately, yields are down by 25%. Lettuce cannot cope with the higher temperatures which actually does damage to the heads preventing growth.

Last year it was expected that carrot yields would be down around 30% due to crop affected by the low rainfall and higher temperatures. 2018 saw prices rise by nearly 55%, according to reports in the Grocer magazine.

Other produce affected includes onions, a range of brassicas, potatoes, apples, peas, arable crops and even milk production (grass is killed off by the scorching Sun in many areas and farmers are having to feed fodder that they would normally save for the winter).

Despite this rather gloomy list of negatively affected produce, the sunshine is having positive effects on some produce. Raspberries thrive with a longer season especially with the mild spring this year and cherries can be damaged by the rain.  So the Sun is definitely a bonus for them, producing sweeter, better-looking fruits.

So far the summer of 2019 hasn’t been as hot or dry as that of 2018 but it is sure to be throwing a few curve balls for farmers and producers up and down the country.