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Christmas Dinner Favourites at Risk After Washout Harvest

Potatoes, sprouts and parsnips are all in shorter-than-normal supply this year after October experienced double its average rainfall.

Christmas dinners could be in jeopardy with storms causing havoc for farmers struggling with one of the toughest harvests on record.

Britain’s latest potato crop is predicted to hit a record low of 4.1 million tonnes with retailers forced to supplement supplies from cold storage, experts say.

Shoppers can also expect empty shelves after the harvests of broccoli and cauliflower were badly affected.

Supplies of Christmas cornerstones sprouts and parsnips have also suffered but are expected to recover enough to reach plates on 25 December.

Unprecedented rainfall, almost double the average for October, including Storms Agnes, Babet and Ciaran have meant waterlogged farms have struggled to produce enough vegetables for the festive rush.

Fred Searle, editor of Fresh Produce Journal, said: “The British potato harvest has been hit hard by heavy rain and flooding in recent weeks, causing delayed lifting and large crop losses. This was preceded by a cold, wet spring and a cool summer with low light levels.

“With the potatoes that are in store there’s likely to be enough supply to meet demand for the time being, but that might not be the case in the months ahead.”

Lincolnshire grower Martin Tate, who manages 18,000 acres in the county, said: “There won’t be enough broccoli to supply the Christmas dinner demand.

“Cauliflower is still a problem, and you can expect to see empty trays over the next few weeks but may return to normal before Christmas. After some initial issues, brussels sprouts supplies look like they will be okay.”

Experts said that chips will not be affected as those potatoes used for chipping are mostly grown in Belgium.

Earlier this month, T H Clements, one of the country’s largest suppliers of Brussels sprouts with 11,000 acres in Lincolnshire and 1,000 in Cornwall, warned that sprouts would be smaller this year than average.

CEO Chris Gedney told BBC’s Farming Today: “Brussels sprouts are likely to be smaller this year as the larger ones tend to fall in the water and rot.”

Source: Sky News