Chantenay; harvesting against all odds

The recent heavy rainfall means the 2019 Chantenay carrot season is a challenging one for Freshgro, the cooperative that grows 90% of UK Chantenay carrots. The Central and East Midlands has been particularly badly hit with ongoing red flood warning along the Trent and in surrounding areas.

Martin Evans, Freshgro MD and Chair of the AHDB Field Vegetable Panel, comments, ‘We are working hard to deliver consistent quality crop to our customers. There has been plenty of flooding around us and I’m sure there will be consequences for us at some point. We are trying to second guess the weather on a daily basis so we can mitigate the impact of any further wet spells.’

He continues, ‘It’s been difficult to be precise about the rainfall levels because it has fallen at very different rates area by area. Some fields have received the expected amount, while in others the rain gauges have been too small to measure a month’s rainfall in a day.’

Evans also notes that Autumn started in August this year. September and October weather has been cooler and wetter compared to previous years. These conditions may yet prove to have greater long term impact than the flooding.

Freshgro has put its experiences of previous wet spells during 2012, 2007 and 2003 into practice to ensure the effect of prolonged, heavy rain on the crop is minimised.

Over the medium to long term, 2 other factors have also been working in Freshgro’s favour: First, the lengthening of the season over the past 20 years. More growing days means the cooperative has a bigger window to work with. It allows for earlier planting, more plantings over a longer period and extended harvesting.

Second, the rising trend in plant-based eating, flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan diets means that Chantenay is well placed to take advantage of the opportunity. Evans comments, ‘We’re seeing changes in eating habits with UK weekly meat consumption down 5% since 2014*. This has been driven by health concerns with 81% of flexitarians claiming this as their main reason for reducing meat in their diets. The impact of changing diets has been slower to pull through than we expected so the best is yet to come. We’ll see how things look when the rain stops.’

For more information:
Bea Renshaw
Tel: +44 117 924 7220

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