The UK heatwave has caused fruit and vegetables to die on the vine as growers fear the drought and further hot temperatures could ruin harvests this year.
Fruit and vegetable suppliers have been counting their losses after record temperatures in July caused crops to fail, according to a report by The Guardian.
“It’s not just fruit – we lost entire plantings of peas, entire sewings of broad beans, things like baby spinach was lost, salad heads were lost,” said Vernon Mascarenhas, who runs the fruit and vegetable wholesaler Nature’s Choice at New Covent Garden Market in London.
He faced a shortage of berries because the heat had simply cooked them. “We are in the height of our berry season, and we didn’t pick quite a lot of fruit during that week. There were major difficulties. The fruit is now coming back but if there is more intense heat forecast, that would be a worry,” he added.
“When we had our flowering season we didn’t have any frosts so we were very excited, we thought we were going to have our best year ever, one of our top fruit seasons, but now we don’t know because the heat has killed some of it off.”
Shoppers will see smaller berries on the shelves as they have ripened faster in the heat. The British Berry Growers chairman, Nick Marston, said: “With increased and sustained heat, generally yields will be a bit lower as berries ripen faster and don’t quite make the same size as if the berries were left to grow longer.”
Mascarenhas is also concerned that the apple and pear crop will be harmed by the hotter, drier summer.
“I would worry about the apples and pears in August if we have further heatwaves. We will still get the fruit but it will be much smaller, it won’t have grown. It could be slightly more acidic because in the last growth spurt is where the sugars develop.”
But Mascarenhas said there was a small upside: “The sunny, warm temperatures mean we can grow fruit which previously could not be grown to a commercially viable level in this country. I will soon have my first apricots for sale, for example.”
Sugar beet and maize crops are also in danger from the recent dry spell, and farmers are also concerned about the viability of root vegetables.
There are fears that future hot summers could affect Britain’s food security.
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