Kirton Holme farmer and his annual battle with the sprout

Roger Welberry.
Roger Welberry.
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We started our uphill struggle in mid-December and for a start the going was steady to slow.

As we neared our summit it was hard work: a steady, daily slog, working 12 to 24 hours a day until at last we conquered. We had made it and all that hard work was worth it. Another run up to Christmas for the British sprout had been successful. Customers were happy and all orders filled.

That may sound a bit dramatic. In reality the run into Christmas is steady, but the last ten days are hectic. You have to produce five times as many sprouts in those few days, harvesting, grading, packing and delivering 24 hours until the deadline. Everyone seems to want sprouts on that one day: it is a pity they don’t want as many the rest of the season.

I must admit – after all that – this year has been reasonably easy and the crop has been exceptionally good, with high yields, excellent quality and – unlike last year – the weather was kind to us for harvesting because we didn’t have very sharp frosts that could have stopped us. My fear now is that because we have had so much wet and unusually mild weather, the later sprouts will not keep too well and growers need to harvest and sell all their tonnage to make it pay. Margins this year are down due to a plentiful supply.

What we need for the sprout crop now is cold, dry weather – and more of you eating British sprouts.