Tennis fans can still enjoy British strawberries as they watch
Wimbledon because the crop has been protected from the unusually
heavy rain by polytunnels.
Since they were introduced 14 years ago, polytunnels have enabled
British soft fruit growers to produce increasingly successful crops,
not least because they prevent rain damage to growing fruit. In
an average year, without the use of polytunnels some 40 per cent
of the crop would be damaged by rainfall.
Richard Hirst, NFU horticulture board chairman, said: “As
well as extending the growing season from May until October, polytunnels
also play a major role in saving ripening fruit from rain damage.
Their use means the current bad weather will not have caused anywhere
near as many problems as it could have done.
“The British soft fruit industry is worth £185 million
every year and polytunnels have been a key element in its development
because of the improved conditions for growing they offer. British
growers are now successfully competing with foreign imports from
Spain and Egypt and increasing the growing season has had a major
impact on the food miles that used to be attached to strawberries
imported before June and after July.”
This year particularly British growers will have found their polytunnels
invaluable in protecting their crop and ensuring that British consumers
are able to continue to enjoy the quality, low food miles, British
soft fruit they have come to expect.
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