Northampton

Strawberry farmer in Kettering blames weather for losses

The last large pick-your-own strawberry farmer in Northamptonshire has blamed unseasonal weather for £50,000 losses.

The warm autumn followed by a frosty winter killed about 15,000 strawberry plants at Dovecote pick your own farm in Kettering.

The farm's managers said the recent lack of sunshine had meant that the new plants were not ripening in time.

They said they were now considering the future of the pick-your-own part of the farm.

James Bye, who runs the farm with his family, said there had been many problems this year.

"There was a heavy frost in February that killed half of our crops. We had to replant 15,000 plants.

"We are a month behind and the lack of sun has stopped the strawberries from ripening.

"We are turning people away for strawberries when usually at this time of the year we are in the middle of the season.

"If last year was bad this year is worse."

Concerns for future

There is concern for the future of the farm.

James's mother Maxine Bye added: "We have lost a month this year which we will not be able to get back, and we don't know how long the season will last.

"We have enough to contend with with rising costs, and the amount of fruit that is eaten or destroyed by pickers before they have paid for them - the problems caused by the weather make things very difficult."

Farmers at Hardwick farm in Northamptonshire closed their fruit picking facility four years ago after finding it unsustainable.

Victoria Fiddons, who works at the farm, said: "The weather was so wet we weren't getting the customers, we had fruit rotting in the fields.

"It was a shame but it wasn't sustainable.

"For us it was the wet summers - the frosty winters was not a problem for us then."

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