By Nigel Slater 03/05 Updated: 03/05 12:42
ONE OF the wettest April's on record has left farmers fearing for this year's asparagus growing season after major shortages were reported.
The warm start to the year combined with torrential rain has resulted in a scarcity of the Vale's most famous vegetable at a time it is being celebrated during the British Asparagus Festival.
The Vale of Evesham is one of the largest producers in the UK but farmers in the area are currently faced with asparagus crowns laying dormant and showing little signs of growth.
And because asparagus can only grow in a two-month season from April to June, farmers fear time is running out with conditions showing little sign of improving.
The weather has also put English asparagus at a premium and pushed the price up in supermarkets to its highest in 15 years making it one of the most expensive vegetables to buy at the moment.
David Turner who runs Ellenden Farmshop in Harvington said it was a huge concern but nothing could be done until the weather improved.
"Its been a difficult growing season because its been so unseasonal," he said. "It was warm and dry throughout the winter and now its suddenly changed to being very wet and cold. Asparagus, a warm weather and warm climate condition crop, is not enjoying this at all.
"I've resisted to try buying any in because of that I have looked at which has been English has been very poor in quality and there is a lack of it about.
"There is potential the season will extend through and catch up in terms of quantity but to do that it needs to warm up and the way it is at the moment its unlikely of doing so.
"Its a concern but I'm hopeful things will get better. We'd like to get people out here and buying it but when its not here they are not coming."
Mr Turner added because of the current financial climate he was keeping his prices for the crop the same but said it was not unusual for traders to charge more given the lack of it about.
A spokeswoman from the British Asparagus Growers Association said they were expecting normal asparagus conditions to return later in the month.
"Not only has the air temperature throughout April affected the crop but the rain has cooled the soil temperature as well compounding the effect," she said. "Current predictions are that it will be another 10 days to 2 weeks before full UK supply is reached across all retailers."
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