The North Yorkshire company has just harvested its first commercial quantities of the traditionally warm-climate crop from farms near Thirsk and Ripon. A total of eight hectares of farmland have been given over to sweetcorn following trials to discover whether the crop could survive in Yorkshire.
By next autumn Greyfriars hopes to be processing over 10 million sweetcorn cobs per year and to have up to 160 hectares of corn within two years.
The Yorkshire corn will be available in Morrisons.
Greyfriars operations director C John Smith believes the success of Yorkshire sweetcorn could offer diversification opportunities for north country farmers. Previously, sweetcorn growing has been associated with producers in the US, Australia and the south of England. “Sweetcorn indeed has the potential to become a key regional diversification opportunity for local farmers,” said Smith.
“The warmer temperatures we are all now enjoying has made the commercial growing of sweetcorn viable in Yorkshire for the first time. Agriculture and horticulture have to change to survive and, even without subsidy, sweetcorn offers margins in excess of traditional cereal crops.”
Greyfriars hopes that by next autumn 80% of the sweetcorn that it processes will be British. Originally a mushroom supplier, it has also diversified into sweetcorn, garlic and cabbage.