"We have enough customers for the courgettes, but it's borderline. For the growers with heated greenhouses slightly worse weather would be better. That would reduce the total courgette production slightly. It's not exactly an art at the moment: if you put the plants away it almost does it by itself. After two days of mediocre weather you can immediately see the effect on the market. The price pulls up." This is according to courgette grower Helmoed Meijer, who is busy harvesting yellow courgettes from his greenhouse. Photo and sales through The Greenery Tame season
For Meijer the competition at this time of year is from the cold greenhouses. "A few years ago the rented greenhouses were filled with radishes. Now there is often aubergine or courgette in them." It results in a reasonably tame season. "Some dips and revivals, but nothing exciting. At the start of the season the weather was mediocre. The hail damage took 5 or 6 hectares of courgette out of production and that caused a gap earlier on."
At the moment green and yellow are fairly equal in price. "Yellow is slightly better in the day to day trade, but the contracts in green are better. In yellow you will get a week's contract tops. No one is brave enough to do it for longer." This is already different from a few years ago when there wasn't a single contract to be made for yellow. "Contracts are now the standard - but if the day to day sales are good, the volumes on the contracts are also low. They aren't filled in beforehand."
The autumn will therefore be defining. "In the yellow courgettes Israel is the main competitor. For the green courgettes Spain is important, but the shelf life of the yellow courgette isn't good enough. After a few days in the truck the quality deteriorates, so you have to fly them. Flying from Israel is the standard. As soon as the prices rise above a euro they will start sending them."
Due to the bad weather in the Israeli horticulture areas nothing was sent last year. Not even when the Dutch gardens were long out of production and only the heated Dutch production could supply. "We've had all kinds of prices: from 9 cents to 3 euros and everything in between. It was tense and provided an extraordinary end to the season," says Meijer. And the results can be seen. "There is more courgette and planting is very late in the Netherlands. If you plant in June, you won't make it to November. And at the end of the day you want to have product."