Heatwave could mean less sprouts on our plates this Christmas, farmers warn

The heatwave will be long over by Christmas – but its impact might be plain to see around the dinner table.

British farmers have warned crops of Brussels sprouts may not survive this extreme summer.

Searing temperatures and record low rainfall levels mean farmland is totally dried out just when the seeds are meant to be planted.

A poor start to harvest means that come December there may be a shortage of the festive staples in supermarkets.

CEO of the British Growers Association’s Jack Ward told The i: ‘You’re putting very small, very sensitive plants into what is now just parched land that hasn’t seen a drop of rain for weeks and weeks and weeks.

‘Trying to keep those plants alive is a real challenge, so at the moment we’re all wondering what proportion of the crops that are being planted for harvest in the winter are even going to survive.’

He added that farmers have ‘never seen this combination of no rain and super-high temperatures’.

Other vegetables like broccoli and cabbage may be in short supply by the winter.

The dry weather has already had an impact on carrots, potatoes, and onions.

The UK has had an unprecedentedly hot summer, with a heatwave bringing temperatures of 40°C last month.

A drought is set to be declared in certain areas tomorrow and hosepipe bans have already been introduced.

The UK is currently under a four-day heat alert with an ‘exceptional’ risk of wildfires in certain parts of the country.

The Met Office has raised the Fire Severity Index for much of southern England, and stretching as far west as Abergavenny in Wales, for this coming Sunday.

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The latest analysis from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) has warned that low or even exceptionally low river flows and groundwater levels are likely to continue for the next three months in southern England and Wales.

Mr Petagna said that rain could be on the horizon early next week.

‘There are signs that we could get some rain next week, but details at the moment are uncertain,’ he said.

He added that the UK needs ‘a few weeks’ of light rain to water the ground.

‘What we really need is a few weeks of light rain to soak into the ground,’ he said.

‘Thunderstorms are more likely to cause some flooding issues because the ground is hard the water can’t sink in.’

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