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Cauliflower Shortages

August 14, 2019

By Paul Homewood


h/t HotScot


Britain is experiencing a cauliflower shortage after extreme weather killed off much of this year’s crops.

Heavy rainfall in June destroyed crops in Lincolnshire, and alternative European supplies wilted in last month’s heatwave.

Cauliflower prices have soared and some farmers have suffered financial losses after the destruction of their crops.

The shortages were described as "very concerning" by a spokesman for the Brassica Growers Association.

Other brassica – including cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts – are also in short supply.

"Crops can withstand a reasonable amount of variation in weather but the conditions in June were too much and as a result crops have suffered, and this is leading to a shortage of supply," the British Growers Association (BGA) said.

Most of the UK’s cauliflowers are grown in Lincolnshire, which experienced record amounts of rainfall and flooding in June that destroyed this year’s crop….

The British Retail Consortium said: "This is yet another example of how retailers are having to manage the effects of climate change, which has created a greater variability in the weather and resulted a slightly poorer harvest in the UK."


There are of course many examples of weather events, which can impact harvests. Heavy rain this June was just bad luck, but in other years they could have been complaining about drought, late frosts and goodness knows what else.

But what about these supposed poorer harvests?

According to DEFRA, agricultural productivity has been steadily rising since 2000. [The All Outputs line is the relevant one regarding harvests. Total productivity has risen faster, partly reflecting lower inputs, such as area harvested]




As for vegetables, we can see the same steady rise in most categories since 2010, including cauliflowers, despite a small reduction in the area farmed.



I have every sympathy for farmers whose livelihood is at the mercy of the elements, as it always has been down the ages.

But I would be nice if, just for a change, the BBC did not link it all to climate change!

  1. Joe Public permalink
    August 14, 2019 12:05 pm

    FAOSTAT on UK Cauliflower & Broccoli production:

    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 14, 2019 1:53 pm

      Are we importing more cheap foreign produce?

    • mikewaite permalink
      August 14, 2019 2:52 pm

      A fascinating source of information not just on food production but on many other socioeconomic datastreams. With the specific items under discussion it seems that from 1960 to 1990 we were producing(and presumably consuming) approx 2 x the amount produced in the last 3 decades , the production being fairly stable. Was that a change in diet ? Cheaper imports as Gerry implies or because it is part of home cooking and women , in particular, are more often at work and have less time or inclination for food preparation?

      Now just look behind the announcer when BBC NEWS comes on and observe the army of consoles and their attendants in the BBC news room. Must be at least 100, and the News is 24/7, so 3 shifts /day. This means each day there are 300 news researchers available to scan the World’s archives, but on the subject of Climate Change alone each pronouncement from the BBC is countered by many individuals, or Paul himself, working with a fraction of the resources available to the BBC, Joe Public’s contribution being one such example.
      The BBC could have thoroughly investigated the recent trends in different food crops from the FAO database but has concentrated on one alarmist headline.
      Is this because the hundreds of news researchers are actually just emailing each other or watching Youtube, or perhaps they are doing diligent and professional jobs seeking literature evidence on aspects of climate change, but the results are unacceptable to the BBC managers and are therefore shredded and never appear in the bulletins that are broadcast?

    • August 14, 2019 5:54 pm

      It would be interesting to see what the yields have been, Joe

      I suspect caulis are much less popular than they were in the past, with many other exotic vef around

      • Joe Public permalink
        August 14, 2019 6:21 pm


        Area Harvested:

      • August 14, 2019 7:13 pm

        Strange – a big dip in the 80s.

        I wonder if the productve land was switched to higher value crops?

      • bobn permalink
        August 14, 2019 11:46 pm

        Farmers are totally focussed on market prices and trends and switch in and out of different crops rapidly. A decrease in cauliflower yields will purely reflect a decrease in demand and prices.

  2. swan101 permalink
    August 14, 2019 12:18 pm

    Reblogged this on ECO-ENERGY DATABASE.

  3. Phoenix44 permalink
    August 14, 2019 12:47 pm

    Did Lincolnshire experience “record” amounts of rain in June? And I thought we were supposed to get drier summers but with heavier downpours, not just lots of rain?

    • A C Osborn permalink
      August 14, 2019 4:54 pm

      Yes that is the question is it not.
      I am surprised Paul didn’t bring out one of his graphs to confirm or deny.

  4. Joseph Sharp permalink
    August 14, 2019 12:49 pm

    Plenty of cauliflowers in my local Morrisons this morning!

  5. August 14, 2019 1:14 pm

    Onions might be an interesting story, several weeks ago onions in UK supermarkets were from Australia and New Zealand. The economics seem wrong, onions are cheap, shipping costs from Aus/NZ must be high, was this a glut down-under, or a shortage here?

    • August 14, 2019 4:19 pm

      onions store very well.
      Caulis don’t, but seed to harvest is pretty quick with caulis.. heads can increase vastly overnight at the end.

    • bobn permalink
      August 14, 2019 11:48 pm

      Still early season for Uk onions and apples so eating from the southern harvest. Shipping in a chilled container costs peanuts.

  6. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 14, 2019 1:32 pm

    Every year some crops are winners and some are losers, it’s always been that way.

    The danger comes from idiots promising never ending hot summers, if they are believed, everyone will plant maize and sunflowers, and when the promise fails, we’ll end up with no food at all.

    ClimateFile did a thing on a Black Currant farmer. The plants need winter chill to bud and fruit properly, and thus we were told, are threatened by the climate change of warm winters. It’s long been a problem, and certain varieties are more sensitive than others – some have never been recommended for Southern England. The farmer will simply have to change variety or leave the currants to farms 100 miles further North, and grow something better suited to the supposed ‘new’ climate.

    All these farming problems are not problems at all, farmers have and always will just adapt – as happened at the end of the Roman period when the climate changed and made the growing of erstwhile staple crops difficult.

  7. August 14, 2019 1:35 pm

    The sun is entering a maunder minimum. The ice is returning. Winter is coming. Prepare!

    • saparonia permalink
      August 14, 2019 4:01 pm

      It’s true the Sun has entered into it’s minimum. Professor Valentina Zharkova, UK, called this a Super-Grand Solar Minimum, because of the Sun’s magnetism. I don’t understand completely but All her teams papers are available online. It won’t be as bad as the Maunder Miimum according to NOAA’s prediction, but will reach Dalton Minimum temperatures, after the next maximum in 2023, so the decline will probably be around 2027-31 which is the next minimum after this one. This one is going to be very bad, the next will be worse.

      We all have to learn some survival skills, shame they aren’t taught in school. Our upcoming generation can’t even make fire! Also ‘cooking’ in school now means ‘designing packaging’.
      Medieval people kept their animals indoors on the ground floor and slept upstairs for warmth, they ate a lot of beets and turnips.

  8. Gerry, England permalink
    August 14, 2019 1:58 pm

    There could well be an element of a changing climate because the jetstream pattern has changed in response to solar minimum. Because the path is more meridional than zonal, we are seeing very rapid temperature changes which may well upset the growing patterns. France went from heatwave to 20C colder with huge hail in less than 24 hours. Obviously the plants will survive but they may not be worth selling or may not produce as well. It is true that farmers are used to variation but if this is a Little Ice Age then there are none that have experienced it unless there are some 200 year old farmers around.

  9. Sheri permalink
    August 14, 2019 2:08 pm

    Another “Climate is weather when we say it is” piece of nonsense. Since NO ONE in the climate change business can predict what weather will do, it’s all a lie and propaganda. And a HUGE waste of money.

    Cauliflower is notoriously hard to grow. It requires a certain temperature (a COOL one) or it bolts. Too dry, too hot, or in my case this year, too many grasshoppers, and you get nothing. Complaining that “climate change” caused this is purely political and very, very unscientific. At this point, I’d have to say any “science” has been completely destroyed by climate change and its lies. We’re into politics and fortune-telling.

  10. August 14, 2019 2:24 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate-

  11. saparonia permalink
    August 14, 2019 3:45 pm

    I thought everything is grown in polytunnels? I have never seen a field of cauliflowers, Surely the increase in butterflies must have contributed? Oh I forgot we have hardly got any insects now due to glysophate. I bought a rather splendid cauli last week in the local market. I haven’t finished eating it yet. It wasn’t too pricey either.

    • Bloke down the pub permalink
      August 14, 2019 7:47 pm

      I know my brussel sprouts are fighting a losing battle against caterpillars this year.

      • yonason permalink
        August 14, 2019 9:10 pm

        Have you tried this, or whatever you call it over there?

        Click to access ThuricideBT-Caterpillar-Control-1.pdf

        They eat it. They die. Relatively safe for humans, as long as you follow the instructions. It’s saved many a tomato plant of mine. I mix it up in a watering can, then drizzle it over the plant. By the end of the day, worms are dead. Works for any plant munching bug.

  12. theguvnor permalink
    August 14, 2019 3:58 pm

    The BBC introduced a farmer on the lunchtime news today as having lost £1m on his cauliflowers. However he was very sanguine about it all joking ..’well well a farmer complaining about the weather..’, going on to say that the early weather we have had have affected crops but being prepared there was time to make it up within the rest of the season. Doesn’t quite fit the beebs narrative of disaster.

  13. August 14, 2019 4:17 pm

    Ridiculous Radio 4 4pm news just put “shortage of cauliflowers and broccoli” as the #2 story
    Well I thought it was a non story when Radio Lincolnshire reported it on Monday at 4pm .

    Oh if only farmers and shoppers didn’t put all theirs eggs in one basket.
    In this real world both are more sensible.
    so this is a non story

    I packed up the stall last Thursday we had loads of quality cauliflowers left over, cos we’d jacked up the price to £1.50 so customers had bought peas, carrots, swede etc instead.
    It is true there isn’t a glut of caulis, and when I saw 20 at 10p each in the supermarket last week I declined them cos they all small and damaged heads.
    Each week on the stall we have a shortage of some stuff and a glut of others
    Mostly now, glut of straws, blackberries, peaches, plums and potatoes are cheap.
    To be honest frozen veg in the supermarket is plentiful and cheap so no one is starving.

  14. Roger Cole permalink
    August 14, 2019 4:57 pm

    Nothing new here, it is the same as what happened to potatoes in ’76

  15. yonason permalink
    August 14, 2019 5:04 pm

    What? No cauliflower? Well, let them eat kale then!

    • Bertie permalink
      August 14, 2019 10:05 pm

      Good pun!!

  16. tomo permalink
    August 14, 2019 5:08 pm

    well at least the cauliflower disaster hasn’t been blamed on Brexit

  17. Phoenix44 permalink
    August 14, 2019 5:09 pm

    I’m also rather curious about the picture caption – did “extreme” weather really kill off “much of this year’s crops”?

    That seems to be utterly untrue.

    • bobn permalink
      August 15, 2019 12:08 am

      No extreme weather here in upper Thames Valley. I farm fruit and its looking good for quality and quantity. The soft fruit harvest has been huge. The arable boys are harvesting and the wheat and barley is good as well. Looks to be another good year for crops all round in Uk.

  18. Rudolph Hucker permalink
    August 14, 2019 5:27 pm

    BBC the misinformation Channel for the effects of Weather or as they call it Climate!

  19. Pancho Plail permalink
    August 14, 2019 7:18 pm

    So let me get this straight, we can’t rely on our EU friends to supply us with what has previously been told we wouldn’t be able to get after Brexit – does anyone else see the irony in that.

  20. waterside4 permalink
    August 14, 2019 8:33 pm

    Indeed Pancho,
    across the road from our humble abode in Angus, a hoard of our eastern European guests were busy harvesting a 5 acre field of that methane inducing vegetable today.
    we have had the usual weather here in Scotland – hot cold wet dry. The caulis looked great
    so the farmer should be pleased with this global warming.

  21. john cooknell permalink
    August 14, 2019 9:55 pm

    The BBC promoted and supported this load of rubbish when I was a kid, it was taught in schools as if it were fact, just like today’s lot. I even had to do essays on it.

    The Population Bomb is a best-selling book written by Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich (who was uncredited), in 1968. It predicted worldwide famine in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation, as well as other major societal upheavals, and advocated immediate action to limit population growth. Fears of a “population explosion” were widespread in the 1950s and 1960s, but the book and its author brought the idea to an even wider audience. The Population Bomb’s opening lines the authors state that nothing can prevent famines in which hundreds of millions of people will die during the 1970s (amended to 1970s and 1980s in later editions)

    Utter complete rubbish, but it gained traction for a quite a bit, supported by all the same type of idiots who support climate change we have today, and some still promote the ideas.. Food production increased and shows no sign of slowing.

  22. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 14, 2019 10:20 pm

    Another day another fake scare story hyped by the BBC – plastic raining out of the sky in the Arctic.

    Be afraid – we might be breathing in fragments with unknown health effects they say! Do you not think that after all these years wearing ‘plastic’ clothes right under our noses, and living in houses full of eroding plastics, if there were a health risk, it might just have been found by now!

    What possible harm can it do in the Arctic – no more than plant fragments, soot, soil/rock/sand particles…… – and most of the fragments will be from rubbish, fishing gear, and tarps, from people living and working in the Arctic circle, not ‘us’. No doubt they will force feed some hapless creature in a lab on a pure plastic fragment diet again and pretend that represents what will happen in the real world.

    Want to worry about micro/nano plastics – wind turbine blade erosion!

    Meanwhile the Russians are developing hyper-sonic nuclear propulsion engines in the Arctic and spreading radiation around when they inevitably blow up – and hardly a word is said!

  23. john cooknell permalink
    August 15, 2019 12:16 am

    Plastic is an organic compound made from the ancient remains of plants (oil).

    Paper and cellophane are organic compounds made from the remains of plants.

    if you are an organic compound on this planet, sooner or later something will eat you!

    The green blob say plastic lasts forever and doesn’t ever bio degrade, but we are not up to our ears in plastic so where has it all gone?

    • HotScot permalink
      August 16, 2019 11:49 am


      after the Deepwater Horizon disaster it appears no one could figure out what happened to much of the oil they couldn’t account for.

      Oil eating microbes was the answer.

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