The weather last month was not what Irish growers want. In fact, it was the wettest March ever with 140 mm of rain, while the average for March is only 25-30 mm.
“All our crops will be late,” says Stephen McCormack of McCormack Family Farms. “We haven’t been able to sow anything since February 28, so we won’t be running at full speed until the end of May, a month later than usual.”
The conditions in February were good, so Stephen took the plunge and put some lettuce in the ground. He will harvest this next week, but a hole will fall before the main harvest begins. It has now been dry for five days and at this time of year the soil is drying out quickly, so sowing is now underway, but rain is forecast again for next week.
“All Irish growers are in the same situation, there will be shortages when the Spanish season stops, we will all look elsewhere for supplies.”
“It seems to be all about extremes these days, last year we had drought, now too much rain and in a few months I will complain again that it is too dry.”
McCormack is the only grower of basil in Ireland. Stephen started it a few years ago, only half an acre in a greenhouse, this year he will plant three acres. The basil is just planted because the greenhouses are not heated, the full harvest will be in mid-June at about 3 tons per week.
“Our Basil was very successful; normally we would have imported it from Kenya. It has now become so expensive to import because the cost of Transport has increased enormously. We now grow other herbs that we used to import because without Basil it is too expensive to supply smaller loads.”
The initial disruption from Brexit is no longer felt and McCormack imports everything directly from the Netherlands or France, so no complicated paperwork is needed.
“Before Brexit, it was much easier to import from the UK, we could still get products the same day and smaller volumes on mixed pallets. Now it takes two days to get it from the Netherlands. It is a pity because we consider the UK to be our nearest neighbour and it must have hit the traders in the London markets hard because all Irish importers now order directly from Europe.”