The Frost Factor
If you’ve rescued with us for a while, you’ll probably know just how much the weather can affect growers. Whether it’s extreme heat and no rain, sub-zero temperatures, or hail, farmers feel the effects. And we recently caught up with one of our growers about how they’ve been impacted over the past few months.
We spoke to Dave from Hammond Produce. They’ve got farms all over the UK, and we’ve rescued quite a few cabbages, carrots and parsnips (plus some other veg) from them over the years. But Dave recently got in touch to let us know that they’d be shorter on savoy cabbages and orange carrots than usual all because of – you guessed it – the weather.
LONG HOT SUMMER.
Dave reminded us of the struggles they faced last summer – one of the hottest and driest on record. Things like yield, size, and quality were a big concern for their field-grown veg, but they were also worried about how such extreme weather would impact their crops in the long term.
Much to their relief, autumn helped them out a bit. With milder-than-average temperatures and more rain than usual, many of their crops kept growing into November, which settled some of the concerns they’d had – although it was still really tricky to know how much the crops had recovered.
THE BIG FREEZE.
But fast-forward to December and that relief was short-lived. The sub-zero temperatures, where frost barely thawed during the day, were yet another challenge. Dave told us that the prolonged cold period was “as unusual in the past 12 years as it was unwelcome”.
Then came the rain, and another freeze in January – and with them – more challenges for Dave and his team. While they protected what crops they could by covering them with straw, it was practically impossible to harvest many crops that hadn’t been covered – either because the soil was so hard (for root crops), or because roots, leaves and heads were frozen. Crops even suffered in more coastal areas, like Suffolk and East Lothian, where there tends to be pretty good frost protection.
In some carrot-growing areas, there was frost as much as 15 cm below ground – that’s about the length of a carrot!
WHAT ABOUT NOW?
Because of all this, Dave’s team are seeing savoy cabbages about half the size they’d expect. And while damage to their orange carrots varies, some of the worst are rotting and can’t be eaten. Others are discoloured, some are cracked, and any that seem to have been undamaged are expected to be in really high demand.
There’s talk that the UK carrot season could finish weeks earlier than usual, “depending on weather conditions, grower, market sector and demand.” But only time will tell.
While we can’t change the weather to help growers, we can keep rescuing any “too odd” and “too many” fruit and veg they might have because of the weather (or any other reason) to help support them that way.