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Fears of decline in UK rhubarb sector

The UK outdoor rhubarb production is coming to a close. Janet Oldroyd Hulme from E.Oldroyd & Sons, said they are hoping to get one more week before the weather causes the outdoor plants to shut down.

"As of yet there have been no cold units recorded, but any frost, heavy rain or wind will start the shutdown of the plants. We had rhubarb until this time last year due to the mild weather then. This year, of course, has seen the mildest September on record."

The production will be moving inside very soon. The plants which have been growing outside for two years, storing the energy needed for growth are just waiting for the first frost to release that energy before being brought inside.

According to Janet the market has been depressed this year, with supermarkets battling for position, which reduced prices despite an increased demand for rhubarb. There has also been increased interest from the processing industry, as rhubarb is now being used for many more products, including juices and conserves, but as Janet explains you need to be a big grower to make it financially viable these days.

Dutch rhubarb is staring to appear on the market now. According to Janet they wait until the UK season is over and prices are on the rise.

The number of growers in the Rhubarb Triangle, 23m² area in Yorkshire, has significantly decreased in recent years. In fact, going back as far as the war years there were over 200 growers in the area. Ten years ago that was 20 and now it has declined to just 11.

Janet is concerned about how the rhubarb growing industry is going, low returns may drive more growers out and that will not be good for the sector. "There has been an increase in outdoor crop yields this year due to good growing conditions, hopefully that will also be reflected in the forced yields which have been reduced in recent years due to climatic changes." 

For more information:
E.Olderoyd & Sons
Tel: +44 113 282 2245