The last six months have created almost perfect growing conditions for the classic Christmas dinner table vegetable; sprouts. However, for anyone that doesn’t like sprouts, look away now – just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, not only will there be more this year but they will be bigger too.
One of the UK’s biggest growers of brassica, TH Clements, based in Lincolnshire, report that sprout yield this year is up by 20 per cent on 2019 and that they will be whoppers – up to 50 per cent bigger than usual. And this will be good news to the growing number of UK sprout fans with Tesco reporting a near 20 per cent rise in sales this year versus 2019. Tesco sprout expert Rob Hooper says that ideal weather from May onwards has led to a really great crop this year.
Rob Hooper said: “This year the UK will get some of the best quality sprouts we’ve seen for at least five years and great news for cooks is that the larger size will mean that they will be easier to peel. Nobody likes the chore of peeling sprouts but this year, because of their size, customers will need fewer of them on their Christmas dinner plates and that means less work in the kitchen.
“Most of the UK sprouts for the winter season are planted in May and this year we not only had the warmest spring on record but a good summer with the right amounts of rain for fruit and vegetables. The early life of the crop from planting through until the early autumn, is important to the ultimate quality of the sprouts in producing strong tall stalks ready for producing the buttons - the bits of the sprouts which are eaten.”
The great growing conditions have produced stalks of sprouts taller than growers have seen in recent years. It has also allowed buttons to form with a good amount of space between each one – important from a quality point of view as it allows air flow which helps them to stay blemish free.
Richard Mowbray of TH Clements, who are based in Benington, near Boston, Lincs, said: "The year so far for sprout production has been very good and we’re getting colder weather now just at the right time. During the last few weeks we have had some windy days which helps to blow the old leaves off the plants and is again good for helping the buttons to remain blemish free. If the weather stays like this then this will be the best Christmas for sprout quality in at least five years.”