Horticultural industry challenges

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member, David Long, reflects on the risks taken by the sector to grow such a diverse range of crops under a variety of conditions.

David Long_30095

NFU horticulture and potatoes board member David Long reflects on the risks taken by the sector to grow such a diverse range of crops under a variety of conditions. 

So the horticultural year is well under way, my neighbour to the East has delivered epic new potatoes to my door and my neighbour to the West (not wanting to be upstaged!) has delivered some enormous dark cherries which will be devoured by the children before nightfall. Horticulture is an amazing industry which produces a huge array of crops under a massive variety of conditions.

The downside to it all is that it is all a huge gamble and I think I may be addicted to it, which is almost certainly bad news.

We start in the late winter with a small plant or a flower on a fruit tree, we then battle the elements to avoid frost, storms and excess rainfall to try to set our crop as best as we possibly can. Despite our best efforts we are usually up against it in one way or another as the season rolls on. It could be drought in tree fruit crops, moths in brassicas or a very destructive pest like SWD in soft fruit.

We then harvest our respective products and sell them for as much money as we can! In the crops I grow pricing is still weekly…another risk.

My point here is that nothing is certain in our industry and that is how as horticulturalists we have evolved, we try to mitigate the risks as best we can and have to take what the good Lord throws at us from the skies.

So as a happy gambling horticulturalist I get on with it but I do wish that the government would ensure two things for me. Firstly, a safe and secure water supply to grow my crops to help feed the nation and secondly a labour supply system which is fit for purpose. With these two things in hand I would certainly feel like everything is less of a roulette wheel.

Last edited on: 12:07:2019

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