Supported by UK Environment Secretary Gove, a new report titled Recipe for Disaster has outlined a 'major threat' to British crops which could threaten future supplies as well.
Published last month by The Climate Coalition and the Priestley International Centre for Climate, the report produce such as potatoes and carrots may be in shorter supply than usual if climate change continues to pose a risk. The news comes after it was revealed that consumers were still experiencing the impact of weather extremes, including a two-month drought, that damaged British crops in 2018.
But the issue goes beyond last year though, as over the past decade more than 50% of farmers in the UK say they've been affected by a severe climatic event. In fact, according to the new report, the latest climate change projections show "increased chance of milder, wetter winters" and "hotter, drier summers" along with an "increase in the frequency and intensity of extremes" - which is bad news for everyone.
Lee Abbey, head of horticulture at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), said: "Farmers and growers are used to dealing with fluctuations in the weather but if we have two or three extreme years in a row it has the potential to put growers out of business."
As well as damaging crops and preventing adequate and timely production, extremes of weather will also mean new pests and diseases migrate towards the UK.
Produce most at risk, according to the report:
- Apples were reportedly down 20% in 2017 following severe frost. Areas of production are also set to experience significant drought.
- Potatoes were also down 20%, but this time in 2018.
- Strawberries and other soft fruits are produced in areas classified as being under water stress, and may be affected by other climate changes such as milder winters.
- Wine grapes may be affected by the UK experiencing late springs and rainfall during flowering in July. Both can be damage growth and yield.
- Cauliflower quality and yields could be reduced by warmer winter temperatures, as British varieties require a colder overwinter. The increase in migrating pests may also result in reduced harvest.
- Lettuce and salad crops are mainly produced outdoors, and therefore are vulnerable to drought especially around planting and early stages of growth.
- Carrots can experience a restricted growth as a result of higher UK temperatures.
- Onions production has reportedly declined by 40% in recent years with higher summer temperatures posing the potential for further reductions.