What’s growing and slowing in December 2022?
It’s a little scary that the first two paragraphs are from my December report last year. It has been twelve months and the situation has not improved.
This time of year is a bit tricky to predict, but that is not the case this year… Pretty much everywhere has been cold and wet. Everything has either finished early or started late, sometimes both. Also, the ground needs to be dry enough for machinery, to be able to harvest. November 2022 has been one of the coldest, wettest in history. The impact of which, will certainly be felt well into December.
The cold wet weather forced Queensland growers to finish up weeks earlier than they would normally. Similar conditions down south have left the southern farmers about one month behind. Everything is short in stock and expensive, and the labour shortage has worsened. To add insult to injury the quality of the produce has also suffered.
Mangoes have started, and after last year’s low-yield crop, this year is looking like a bumper. Nectarines, peaches, and plums started late, with lighter crops, reduced quality, and higher prices. Stone fruit don’t like being cold or wet. It snowed in Daylesford last week, and most of the southern states are experiencing floods.
North Queensland fruit is holding up pretty well, and we are seeing good stocks of red papaya, rockmelon and honeydew. Grapes should make an appearance early in the month, but they don’t like getting wet either. Apples are still in good supply, but they are coming out of storage, there should be sufficient stocks to get us through until the new season starts mid to late January.
Long story short, veggies for December will not be great and they will be expensive. Cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli are all in short supply. Leafy greens, silverbeet, kale, and Chinese veg are very difficult to get. The irony is some of these crops aren’t short, but being bunched lines, they are labour intensive. The farmers can’t get the labour, so the crops are wasting in the field.
Things like carrots, pumpkin, and celery are in short supply, and will probably remain short until the new Queensland season. The reason being, a lot of the southern growers missed months of their planting season, because the ground was just too wet to plant.
Also short are potatoes, salad vegetables, and onions. The quality of salad vegetables has been impacted by the wet, cold weather. Things like spinach and rocket are prone to mildew outbreaks in these conditions.
The good news is that things will improve as the month progresses and gets warmer and drier. South Australian celery is ready to go and plentiful, we just need a few dry days to get it. Our Tasmanian growers are also well-positioned and will be supplying carrots and brassicas ready for the festive season as soon as they get a few clear days. Note that the Victorian growers haven’t even planted their carrots yet and will miss their window completely if the weather doesn’t clear up very soon.
Beetroot is also short and at record prices. Green beans and cucumbers are about the only two vegetables we can think of that are oversupplied now.
Granted it will not be a great December for produce, and 2021 and now 2022 have been difficult years for our producers. But they will still be plenty to choose from, at reasonable prices and quality.
Remember to eat all of your colours and have a great Christmas.
The Team at United Organics
Image: The Diggers Club