The Beast from the East and the heatwave have hit production of the UK’s favourite vegetable.
A perfect storm of adverse weather conditions has hit UK carrot growers and the carrot ‘crisis’ could continue for up to 11 months.
The UK was 97 per cent self-sufficient in carrot consumption, with the industry respected worldwide for its ability to produce fresh carrots all year round.
But Rodger Hobson, chairman of the British Carrot Growers Association, has warned the recent weather conditions will lead to the lowest yields for decades and the highest levels of imports.
“Firstly, we had the ‘Beast from the East’ which produced excess rain throughout the spring, delaying planting by a month, and reducing the growing season by around 18 per cent,” he said.
“Then we have had the hottest summer since 1976. Carrots grow best at temperatures around 15 to 18 degrees C, this summer we have had daily averages of 25 to 32C and the carrots have just stopped growing and are wilting in the fields.
“This weather has hit all the major growing areas of Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Fife.”
The situation has been compounded by water restrictions ‘turning off the tap’ on vital irrigation systems. Yields were expected to be 30 to 40 per cent down on last year.
And while some imports will be available, mainland Europe has struggled with similar conditions with carrots not plentiful on the continent either.
Mr Hobson said major carrot growers agreed ‘substantial imports’ would be required this season.
"Carrots are undoubtedly the ‘nation’s favourite vegetable’ and will still remain great value in terms of the nutrition and health benefits they provide. However, it is almost inevitable that the price in the shops will go up.”