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Christmas dinner safe – no shortage of sprouts

Roger Welberry in a field of Brussels sprouts in Kirton Holme. Photo: SG271112-115NG

Roger Welberry in a field of Brussels sprouts in Kirton Holme. Photo: SG271112-115NG

Roger Welberry is one of the many farmers in south Lincolnshire praying for a spell of dry weather as his acres of Brussels sprouts stand in wet fields.

He says there will be no shortage for Christmas and the quality and size is there, but his plants grown at Kirton Holme have been stunted by the weather and are not as tall as they should be.

He said: “We are a few tonnes to the acre down. They won’t make the height up but they will fill up the stalk, as high as it is, and the growth will go into the sprouts themselves.”

Roger says sprouts are a resilient plant but take “a bit of husbandry” to protect them from disease and pest damage because they are in the ground a long time, from March-April to January-March time.

The plants, destined for ready meals as well as the wholesale market, don’t like standing in wet soil, and Roger says: “If we keep getting this wet run it doesn’t suit them to be wet too long because they get soft and when you do get some cold weather you get caught with it more because they are full of water.”

Thankfully, demand for Brussels sprouts isn’t too high yet, but Roger is confident that when it increases just before Christmas growers will be able to meet demand, although he hopes consumers will be willing to pay a penny or two more because he says: “It will help the grower to get back a little that he’s lost in tonnage.” He warns there will be shortages by the end of January though.

 

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