Monday, December 10, 2018

Challenging season sees drop in onion yields

December 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Crops

Onion yields this season were down 40% with harvest all but completed, according to the British Onion Producers Association.

Challenging weather – including the ‘Beast from the East’ – caused havoc with spring drilling, resulting in many crops being  planted up to  six weeks late. The national crop is likely to be 60% of normal, said BOPA chairman Tim Elcombe.

“The prolonged hot and dry period over the summer then put onion crops under extreme stress and adversely impacted the growing potential. Despite British growers’ best efforts to minimise the impact through round the clock irrigation, the onion crop has been severely affected.”

The shortfall is worse than expected. Earlier estimates had suggested a 25% drop in yields. Warm weather in May allowed crops to catch up following the late drilling and planting. But hot weather throughout the summer caused considerable stress affecting both yield and bulb size.

Higher levels of imports from the southern hemisphere would be required to make up the shortfall in 2019, Mr Elcombe told a recent BOPA marketing meeting near Cambridge. Consumers should also expect onions in the shops to be smaller than usual, he added.

Many retailers have reduced their size specifications to maximise the amount of crop that can be used. But British growers are not alone in facing a difficult season. The picture is similar across most of Europe.

Supplies from the UK and Europe are expected to start to run down in early spring 2019. and importers will be looking to southern hemisphere producers to make up the shortfall until the UK new season crop is ready in summer 2019.

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