Defra has urged UK growers who suffered financial losses in the wake of the E.coli scare to "act quickly" in ­applying for a share of the EU's 210m compensation fund.

Growers of tomatoes, lettuce, endives, cucumbers, peppers and courgettes, who had produce withdrawn from sale or whose produce was not harvested as a result of the scare, are all eligible to apply. The deadline is 30 June.

Agriculture minister Jim Paice said it was vital UK growers did not miss out.

The NFU said it was disappointed compensation did not cover produce that had to be sold at lower prices, but horticulture and potatoes board chairman Sarah Pettitt urged growers to apply instead of holding out for something better.

Growers will get maximum support of 33.20 per 100kg for tomatoes, 38.90 for lettuce and endives, 24 for cucumbers, 44.40 for sweet peppers and 29.60 for courgettes.