Following a wet February and early March, the spell of favourable weather in late March/April allowed growers to make good progress with planting. The marketing season for most of the outdoor vegetable crops has ended, while the salad crops, such as cucumbers, tomatoes and more recently Spring onions are into their seasons.
Horticulture producers depend on seasonal foreign workers from other EU Member States to plant, manage and harvest their crops. Due to travel restrictions in some European countries growers have encountered difficulties in getting these workers into the country. Some companies have resorted to charter flights in order to get workers into the country as commercial flights have ceased.
Protected crops and salads
The growing season is good so far this year with excellent quality reported. For indoor crops excellent light levels are reported, however temperatures have remained quite low, especially along the east coast. Outdoor crops are struggling to germinate in some areas due to low temperatures and occasional night frosts.
Labour shortage and sourcing seasonal labour are ongoing issues for growers in this sector which is further compounded by social distancing issues etc. in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The season is largely on track so far this year, with crops developing well. Volumes into the market have increased in the past week. Centenary is the main variety produced by growers again this season. Staffing is the primary concern for all growers given the current situation. Most growers will require the majority of their seasonal staff from now onwards. With roadside sales allowed from the 18th of May this should be a positive for the sector, however it remains to be seen what sales will be like with reduced traffic volumes on the roads.