Chips are down – 2018 heatwave causes them to shrink

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Chips have shrunk by an inch – because of last summer’s heatwave.

The amount of potatoes picked fell by an average of 20% in England and Wales in 2018 compared with the season before – and many of them were smaller, according to a report by The Climate Coalition.

It adds that potatoes are a water-thirsty crop, and so a parched, sun-drenched landscape is bad for production. The combined June and July period was one of the driest on record.

The coalition’s report, called Recipe for Disaster, said 2018 had provided the fourth-smallest potato harvest since 1960. Only 1975, 1976 and 2012 brought us fewer spuds.

Carrot and onion yields were also down.

The coalition, which is made up of more than 130 organisations including the World Wide Fund for Nature, National Trust, RSPB, The Women’s Institute and Oxfam, said the 2018 heatwave was made about 30 times more likely because of climate change.

It added that the UK can expect more frequent extreme weather events such as intense heat and record-breaking rainfall.

In the last 10 years, more than half of all farms in the UK say they have been affected by a severe climatic event, such as flooding or a storm, according to the report.

Apple growers, for example, lost about 25% of their harvest in 2017 because of unexpectedly late frosts.

Lee Abbey, head of horticulture at the National Farmers’ Union, said a lot of growers ended 2018 with “sore heads and not much income”.

He added: “Farmers and growers are used to dealing with fluctuations in the weather, but if we have two or three extreme years in a row it has the potential to put growers out of business.”

(c) Sky News 2019: Chips are down – 2018 heatwave causes them to shrink

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