Peas to be in short supply despite surprise East Anglian harvest

Archant

EAST Anglian farmers are bucking the trend with a better than expected pea harvest - but it will still not be enough to stop a national shortage of peas over the next year.

The wettest summer for decades has hampered this year’s harvest across the country.

However award-wining Broadland farmer Richard Hirst said farmers in this region had fared better than growers in the north and west.

“I could say that 80 per cent of our harvest has been generally okay and we’ve had a pretty good season,” said Mr Hirst, who is also chairman of Anglia Pea Growers.

“We’ve had our challenges and four days of very hot weather took the edge off the overall season in the last week of the harvest.”

However James Hallett, chief executive of Lincolnshire-based trade association British Growers, said only 55 per cent of the expected pea crop has been harvested nationally, which is likely to lead to significantly shorter supplies.

Fortunately Anglia Pea Growers handles about two-thirds of the national crop.

A good crop last year also means there is a carry over of frozen peas but it will not make up for the 2012 shortfall, Mr Hirst added.

“We need to have a cracking next year but we recognise that supplies will be tight,” he said.

The group, which invested about £1 million last June in three new viners to harvest approximately 7,500 acres of peas, is now planning next year’s crop.

Mr Hallett said: “Now that the harvest is complete in England, and nearing completion in Scotland, it is clear that this great British product will be in short supply until the new season crop arrives next summer.

“The unprecedented combination of unseasonably high rainfall and minimal sunshine in the key growing months of May, June and July means that the great British weather has proven insurmountable this season with tracked harvest machines struggling to cope with swamp-like fields,” he added.

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