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Benny Cuypers, BelOrta:

"Problematic transition from greenhouse to open field cultivation"

St John's Day traditionally marks the end of the Belgian asparagus season. With many vegetables, the end of the season depends on supply, but the seasonal aspect is still firmly defined with asparagus. "You therefore see both grower and trader putting an end to it, but this season we have seen that the supply has already seriously decreased in the last 2 to 3 weeks," BelOrta's Benny Cuypers tells us.

This has everything to do with the very challenging season for the other 'white gold', besides chicory. "Abundant rainfall made for a very difficult season. Firstly, this was so on the cultivation side. Production did suffer because we didn't get the kilos we normally have this season. It was just very difficult work for growers. Harvesting was often almost impossible to do. I estimate we had about 15 per cent less volume. You did see a difference in this between growers. Some were relatively unaffected and in others the fields were half flooded, so they could not harvest at all."

On the other hand, the knife cuts both ways. "The disappointing weather conditions also caused disappointing consumption. Asparagus always requires a nice sunny weather anyway, so the rain was not conducive. Still, we can speak of good prices. As indicated, it was not a productive year, with no peaks, so there was a scarcity on the market, despite reduced consumption. That still compensated somewhat for anyone who could sell, but it was certainly challenging."

Problematic transition from greenhouse to open field cultivation
And so now the gaze turns again to other outdoor vegetables, which for many is also still a problem child. "The weather conditions make it very difficult across the spectrum. The transition from greenhouse growing to outdoor growing has often not really been there. The typical outdoor crops, such as cauliflower, fennel, courgette and the lettuce varieties, have all had a slower start. Everywhere is struggling, although lettuce varieties do seem to be picking up a bit by now."

"Of fennel, we did have a real shortage and we are still seeing it in cauliflowers. There we do see serious production losses, which meant there were gaps in supply. It's about time it dried up. Let's hope we really get a few months with less rain so that everything can normalise. Because of the scarcity, you do see good prices being paid, but you have to if a grower is experiencing big delays or even production losses. It's not how you want it," concludes Benny.

For more information:
Benny Cuypers
Mechelsesteenweg 120
B-2860 Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)15 55 11 11
[email protected]

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