A series of unfavourable weather events over the past year, has resulted in leek yields down by between 15% and 30% according to the British Leek Growers Association.
Described as one of the most difficult growing seasons ever, growers have had to battle record high temperatures during the 2022 summer coupled with lack of rainfall. This resulted in the crop entering the winter period smaller and more immature than required. It then had to battle periods of extreme cold, which left plants dehydrated.
Due to these weather events, the Leek Growers Association is predicting the UK crop will be mostly exhausted by April 2023, with no home-grown leeks available for May and June. It is warning retailers that imports will be needed much sooner than expected, in order to meet customer demand.
Tim Casey, chairman of the British Leek Growers Association said, “Our members are reporting that the succession of challenging weather events, stretching back to the summer of 2022 has had a significant impact on crop yields, which are now in desperate need of spring regrowth to give the sizing required and to hit harvest and budget plans. On a more positive note, despite the winter frosts, quality is excellent.
“It now appears inevitable that the UK will require leek imports, much earlier than normal, in order to fulfil customer demand and compensate for the reduced UK crop.”
In an interview with BBC Look North, he added, “Brexit is a factor with a lot of the difficulties we’re having with farming, but it’s by no means the main problem, certainly not at the moment. Our issue has been the weather, last summer when it was so hot and dry. It stops a lot of crops from growing. These crops just aren’t evolved to deal with those temperatures.”