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UK onion sizes shrink as extreme weather hits crops

PUBLISHED: 08:36 29 October 2018

Onion sizes are smaller this year Picture: PA/THINKSTOCK

Onion sizes are smaller this year Picture: PA/THINKSTOCK

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UK onion sizes are smaller this year, with the crop falling by 40% in the face of extreme weather conditions, growers say.

Windrowing onions amid the dust at P G Rix (Farms) Ltd, Stour Valley, in July Picture: SAM RIXWindrowing onions amid the dust at P G Rix (Farms) Ltd, Stour Valley, in July Picture: SAM RIX

The British Onion Producers Association (BOPA) said higher levels of imports from the southern hemisphere will be needed to make up the shortfall in 2019.

Speaking after a BOPA meeting, Chairman Tim Elcombe said: “UK onion production has been severely affected by the adverse weather conditions in 2018. The ‘Beast from the East’ caused havoc with plantings and drillings in the spring resulting in many crops being planted up to six weeks late.

“The prolonged hot and dry period over the summer then put onion crops under extreme stress and adversely impacted the growing potential. Despite British growers’ best efforts to minimise the impact through round the clock irrigation, the onion crop has been severely affected.”

Harvest has now been completed in most areas and a recent BOPA marketing meeting concluded yields are on average 40% down compared with a normal season.

The extreme weather conditions have also affected the size of onions. Growers confirmed that crops are a lot smaller than normal and a lot of retailers have reduced their size specifications to maximise the volumes of British crop that can be used.

The problem has hit growers across Europe, and supplies are expected to start to run down in early spring 2019, with importers looking to southern hemisphere producers to make up the shortfall until the UK new season crop is ready in summer 2019.

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