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Hurrying up and standing still with open field vegetables at Desmet Agro

"It is the middle of June, and we are walking in the fields in our coats. Incredible"

"It's just incredibly difficult at the moment." This is how Tom Desmet of Desmet Agro typifies the situation for field vegetables. "Hurrying up and standing still. If there is a moment when you can get going, you are working day and night. Then you get several showers and everyone is at a standstill again. We hope it gets drier and warmer soon," said the grower from Meulebeke, Flanders.

Tom, whose crops include carrots, leeks, cabbages and arable crops such as potatoes and onions, makes no bones about it. "Everything is challenging. Last week we were able to do some work, but it is mid-June and we are still planting potatoes. Normally that work would have been done long ago, but there are delays everywhere because of the wet fields. In leeks, too, we are now a bit behind. There, we had our second day of work on Friday. And we were relatively lucky, because the showers are very localised. Last Wednesday, for instance, 2 ml fell on us, but on the other side of the village they got about 30. You can plan everything so well, but in this sector a lot depends on what nature does."

High prices due to limited volumes
So planting is much delayed, but harvesting is also extremely difficult due to the cold and rain. "Since three weeks we have started the carrot harvest, and now we are also working on the cabbages. Only because of the cold, the growth in this is not really there yet either. In addition, the damp weather has also caused some snail problems with the carrots. It makes it difficult to get your volumes. That's a shame, because the demand is there. It is actually very good, but we just can't serve everyone. It's shifting productions to supply all regular customers."

"It's the middle of June, and we're walking on the field in our coats. Incredible," Tom continues. "In the cabbage market, everyone was afraid there was going to be too much, but that problem no longer exists. Volumes are limited, but it does ensure that we work with good prices. Red cabbage goes for €2.50 each and white we sell for €1.75. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is also necessary to pay those prices, because it requires an awful lot of work to deliver good product. Everything is covered in mud. A seed supervisor has been coming here for years saying, 'If everything grows for nothing, you're going to deliver it for nothing'. If it were easy, the market would be flooded, so the hard work for nice products pays off. Well, there is truth in that in these years," says Tom.

"I just hope it gets drier and warmer soon, but it should not become bone dry right away, because then you run into other problems. This week they are still predicting rain, but from next week it should get better. Seeing is believing," the grower continues. "I think we can say that the times of overproduction are over. With this climate, we don't have to worry about that anymore. It's just very difficult for your operations these days. Climate is a challenge, personnel is a challenge, regulations are a challenge. Sometimes it makes you despondent. In a business in any other sector, you thrive if you have organisation and planning in place, but two months of rain and I can be in trouble. All I can say is, 'Let's hope for nice weather'."

For more information:
Tom Desmet
Desmet Agro
Tel: +32 470 68 87 74
[email protected]

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