flooding of carrot fields

Source: Nationwide Produce

Carrots, parsnips and leeks are among crops affected by ‘a recent surge in flooding’

Unprecedented flooding across key agricultural areas is threatening the long-term security of domestic vegetable supply, the sector has warned.

Carrots, parsnips and leeks are among crops affected by “a recent surge in flooding” according to Tim O’Malley, group MD of Nationwide Produce.

He added that the extent of the flooding was “serious”, especially as the River Welland in Lincolnshire burst its banks last week.

“The repercussions are anticipated to be substantial, resulting in reduced yields due to crops submerged in water,” said O’Malley. “Consequently, a continuation of last year’s trend is likely, leading to an extensive reliance on imported produce toward the end of the season.”

The difficulties associated with imported supply were likely to be worsened due to the global climate, he added. O’Malley highlighted that much of last year’s carrot crop came from Israel and “uncertainties loom over this source presently, potentially causing a strain on carrot availability during April, May and June”.

Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, both significant growing areas for leeks and carrots respectively, have been particularly affected, with many growers saying they cannot dig in the current conditions.

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“Forecasts suggest a drying period ahead, albeit accompanied by potential frost,” said O’Malley. “A severe frost could prove catastrophic as submerged carrots and parsnips would suffer significant damage. However, early indications point towards a milder frost, offering hope to avoid substantial losses.”

Warnings were echoed by the NFU, with deputy president Tom Bradshaw explaining that “many areas are continuing to experience flooding with thousands of acres of productive farmland still under water and many crops not going to survive the winter with the huge financial stress and misery that brings”.

The NFU has said it is monitoring the situation via its network of contacts in the Environment Agency and local authorities as there are currently more than 100 flood warnings in place.

“This constant wet weather again highlights the need for government to recognise the strategic importance of domestic food production and urgently deliver solutions to mitigate the impact of flooding of farmland to ensure our farmers and growers can continue producing food for the nation,” said Bradshaw.

This follows warnings at the end of last year that volatile weather conditions were making growers nervous about meeting longer-term contracts as the crop was unavailable.