Early rain in the Autumn delayed harvest and refrigerating of carrots in Hesbaye. When the season is too humid picking becomes a problem. Denis Dumont from the Yerne cooperative says that “for the time being, in a ton of harvest, we have half of which is soil and 250kg of good carrots and the rest can be binned”. Twenty or so Hesbaye farmers grow both organic and traditionally farmed carrots in the Waremme region.
Hesbaye carrots can be eaten whole, peeled, as a snack and found in many colours : mauve, white, yellow or orange. “Prices on the market are currently too low. It is a catastrophe, even if the farmers have contracts ensuring them good prices. The problem also comes from the Russian embargo. As the Dutch and Scandinavians don't produce carrots for stock, their production is flooding the market. It remains very difficult to foresee the development of prices”.
First price carrots can be found for €0.39/kilo on the shelves, whilst organic carrots reach almost €1/kilo.
“For fresh vegetables, as soon as the offer overtakes the demand, the prices collapse. Producers from the North of the country also come here to farm as production on light soil does not suit conservation, they need a heavy soil.”
If the weather continues the harvest should end around the 10th November. “If frost comes, it’s over. The leaves will disappear and it will be impossible to harvest”.
Each Belgian consumes 6kg carrots/year, and just as many tomatoes.
Large vegetable producers in Wallonie, excluding potatoes and carrots, grow in greenhouses with a high yield per metre square. It is obligatory, “one needs 10ha of greenhouse to be profitable in vegetable growing”.
The main factor behind profitability remains energy costs, it is expensive to heat greenhouses at 20-25°C, sometimes even until June. This time, the heating costs were lower, but the warm weather favoured production to a point where the market was saturated with seasonal vegetables.
“For greenhouse productions, the prices fluctuate throughout the year, with an annual average that remains acceptable” concludes the Interprofessional Vegetable Growing Centre.