Worrying time for lettuce grower as Iceberg crop flops
The relentless soaring temperatures are proving disastrous for Northern Ireland's iceberg lettuces growers.
Portadown-based grower Pat Smith has had to pull out of his deal to supply Tesco because his lettuces are simply not growing in the heat.
The plants are coming out of the ground much reduced in size and hit by a condition called tip burn, which means his Class A products are being downgraded to Class B.
He said: "Our biggest problem isn't the lack of rain but it is the high temperatures. Iceberg lettuces are very sensitive to temperature over 25C - above that and you are moving into dangerous territory because then the lettuce will start to form its heart far too soon and can end up no bigger than a tennis ball."
He said even though the smaller lettuces are as dense as the larger ones, customers "think what they are getting is rubbish".
"We have had to pull out of Tesco this week because the lettuce had stop growing so at the moment we can't fulfil our full programme which is extremely worrying for us," he said. "I just hope the financial ramifications don't turn out to be insurmountable because of the small margins we are working on."