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Crop update: March

25 February 2016
Crop update: March

Stuart Lawson, produce technical manager at fresh produce supplier Reynolds, reviews availability for the weeks ahead

UK produce is holding up reasonably well, apart from brassica crops. Domestic cauliflowers are thin on the ground and struggling to make minimum weight, and mildew and mould are causing major problems with kale, spring greens and cabbages, all of which are fairly scarce anyway due to early cropping in recent months. These products are being supplemented with European imports.

In Spain, the unseasonably warm weather continues to affect crops. In particular, hard salad plants are stressed, with speciality tomatoes and yellow peppers proving especially tricky. Spanish leafy salads have their own share of problems, with the season running ahead of schedule and pest issues becoming more commonplace. High humidity levels are also having an influence on strawberries, with low colouration levels reported on fruit and reduced shelf-life a natural result of the product maturing too quickly.

Very hot and dry weather in Peru has affected the short-term availability of asparagus, especially for larger sizes. Looking ahead, the UK season is looking to start early this year as a result of the mild weather, which will be welcome news should limited Peruvian availability persist.

Recent heavy rains in Kenya have significantly reduced the availability of fine beans, so larger Egyptian beans will be required to overcome the market shortfall.

Finally, avocado availability will be extremely difficult over the coming months. Reduced harvests in Israel and Spain, coupled with surging demand, will mean shortages and very high prices. Limited availability of avocados is expected to continue until May.

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