Stuart Lawson, head of technical at fresh produce supplier Reynolds, reviews availability for the weeks ahead
The UK salad season is finally under way, although the lack of sunlight is restricting crop growth somewhat. Little Gem and Cos lettuces are a little thin on the ground and individual head sizes are likely to be smaller than usual.
Hard salads are also suffering slightly from low light levels, with yellow peppers struggling to make the colour grade in particular. Dutch salads, however, are slightly less troublesome.
The British weather is also affecting the domestic asparagus season, which is ordinarily in full swing by now. The cold weather is restricting plant growth, but a sudden jump in night-time temperatures is likely to kick-start production. Until then, low availability from Peru is compounding the shortage.
Large-sized carrots and parsnips will be tricky to find, with British supplies almost exhausted until the new season arrives.
Spanish lemon harvests are significantly reduced and the Argentinean crop is delayed due to unseasonable weather. Elsewhere, some South African fruit is beginning to come through but, as it is early season, there are signs of greening. Market prices for lemons are very high for the time of year and those without contracts in place are likely to struggle with availability.
European melons and stone fruit, including cherries, peaches, nectarines and apricots, are now arriving. Fruit will only get better as the season progresses and the sugars have had time to develop.
British strawberries and raspberries are getting better and better, and end of season Spanish fruit will also be available for a couple of weeks, invariably at lower prices.