Vegetables: 'The Goodness of the Earth' Harvest

Vegetables: 'The Goodness of the Earth'

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All over the country, the race is on to bring in our food. It's harvest


time. Gathering in the bounty of the land is the most crucial event in


the countryside calendar. And now, as this year's harvest reaches its


climax, it's time to see exactly what's happening with all our crops.


Seeds of life to sustain us. Fresh vegetables pulled from the earth.


Fruit that's our sweet treat. All conjured up from Mother Nature.


We'll be discovering the remarkable craft and magic of farming, and


finding out just where our food comes from. No matter how clever


farming becomes, our crops are still at the mercy of the weather. Harvest


2012 was a disaster. After record summer rainfall, crops failed and


prices spiralled. Can 2013 put our farmers back on track to deliver the


food we all rely on? As the harvest comes in, we will reveal the


results. This time we'll be uncovering the treasure of our land


- vegetable goodness. Which of our vegetables have been the winners,


and which the losers? As the crops come in, we'll reveal the results.


Welcome to Harvest 2013! It's great to be in Lincolnshire.


The vegetable growing capital of Britain. At the busiest usiest time


of year - har vest. All around us vegetables of every size, shape and


colour are being gathered in from the rich earth. I'm Gregg Wallace


and I've been working in the vegetable business for over 20 years


and I still get a buzz at harvest time. And I'm Philippa Forrester. As


a keen amateur grower, I will be exploring the farmers' secrets


behind the fantastic crops. Over half the vegetables we eat are grown


in the UK. I will be finding out the story behind this incredible Edible


business, worth over £1 billion a year. And now we are here at a most


critical time. We are in the thick of the potato harvest. We'll reveal


how our vegetable crops have done in 2013. We've got some surprises in


store, even about the most ordinary vegetables, the carrots, the onions,


and let's not forget our Greens like broccoli. We'll find out how they


had a roller coaster year in 2013. And Stefan Gates will be here with


insights into nature which farmers must master if they are to produce


crops like these. We'll get a taste of the weird and wonderful new crops


heading heading for for our plates. But first our big story and my


favourite vegetable ever, the not so humble potato. Do you know, we eat a


favourite vegetable ever, the not so staggering 24 billion of them every


year. Here on this farm we followed the


year. story of their spuds. Now we'll


discover just what it takes to harvest them. From planting in


spring to flouring in summer, to harvest them. From planting in


now, the moment From planting in spring to flouring in summer, to


now, the moment of truth -- to flowering in summer, to now, the


moment of truth, the first day of harvest. It is time to meet the


farmer at the centre of this empire of home-grown goodness. Son of this


fertile soil, Andrew Burgess. Andrew and his two brothers are carrying on


a tradition that goes back four generations. We absolutely love


farming and growing stuff. It is a passion in the family. In 1898 my


great grandfather bought a field of potatoes, which he sold in London.


That's how the family business started. Since then my greater


That's how the family business my father and now me and my brothers


have continued to farm and grow a range of vegetables. Andrew's


heritage is built on the potato. But the family business has mushroomed


into a vegetable empire. We are now growing a complete range of UK omed


into a vegetable empire. We are now growing a complete range of UK field


vegetable - broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leaks -- leeks,


carrots. Andrew works with growers across lots of different farms. Our


growing areas start in Suffolk. We work through the season and we


always finish in Scotland for the late-season crop. We are growing


pretty much over the east side of England. Andrew also brings new


kinds of vegetables to the UK. And that takes him further afield, like


Spain. My brothers take the Mickey out of me, because they think it is


a holiday. But it is not really. I love to go on voyages of discovery.


What I'm looking for is anything new I can learn to bring home to the UK


to make things better at home. How many other jobs do you get where you


can sit in an office like this? I love being a farmer. It has its bad


days but 99% of the time it is brilliant fun, working outside with


nature. When I go into a field and it is perfect and ready to go, the


it is magical. You cannot beat the feeling of standing in a field of


vegetable ready to go. That's why we get up in the morning. Andrew was


certainly up early this morning. It is the very first day of his crucial


potato harvest. By the end of today, we'll have an idea how the crop for


2013 is likely to do. So this must be a super-busy time for you, a


passionate potato man, so thank you for having us here at this time.


Pleasure. We could see the harvester at work. How many can that harvest?


About 40 tonnes an hour. How many potatoes is 40 tonnes? That's 40


boxes the size of your car. An hour? An hour. That's extraordinary. What


I'm nntsing. Have a feel of that, isn't that lovely. That's amazing


soil. Lincolnshire soil is famed for its potato-growing potential. This


is fantastic dirt. Everybody its potato-growing potential. This


gardener in the world would die for this stuff. This is a real soft


silty soil. We are below sea level, and this is reclaimed land. This


soil is so smooth, feel it through your fingers. It is soft and light.


That gives us the perfect-shaped potato and a really smooth skin. It


has such a lot of small particles in it, the it holds the the moss ture,


so it grows without too much rainfall. And this is reclaimed from


the sea, is it? The Romans started reclaiming the land. The last bit


near the coast was reclaimed in 1976. The Romans must have loved


chips. They've stopped reclaiming the land. They are flooding some of


it for wildlife. What do you grow? Corral, and in this field we've got


Belle de Fontenay. I love that. La Ratte as well? You and I have become


good friends. Anything else? Around the rest of the farm, Maris Piper,


King Edward, Charlotte. I'm a big fan of the salad potato. You've got


some splendid ones here but you can't do anything without the


weather. The weather is a critical. It was a nightmare last year. This


spring was cold and late. We are running late now. We are stood in


this field, our first field to nd late. We are running late now. We


are stood in this field, our first field to live. This -- our first


field to lift.. Our crop is green over there. Mother Nature can be a


field to lift.. Our crop is green good friend to the farmer but it can


also be an enemy. Let's remind ourselves just how atrocious the wet


weather was in 2012. The summer of 2012 was the wettest for 100 years.


And the darkest for a quarter of a century. £600 million worth of crops


And the darkest for a quarter of a were lost. The worst harvest for


decades... We've been warned to expect further increase in the price


of food. Vegetable prices rose by up to a half as farmaries struggled to


get poor quality crops from sodden ground. Our farmer, Andrew, had


never seen his potato field so wet. Wet. By mid November 2012, Andrew


was at his wit's end with the weather. We are here in Home Fen,


just below sea level, and we are coming into a field of King Edwards


on this lovely black soil. It started raining in April and it


hasn't really stopped since. It has started raining in April and it


affected the growth of the crop. It is a very small crop. There's bits


of this field we are not going to harvest. Is you can see how small


these potatoes are, because they haven't had enough sunlight. The


soil is such an important factor for us. Having a healthy soil with good


nutritional balance, and it all just goes down the drain when you get


this, and we have to start again. We have to start rebuilding the soil


structure from scratch. My father's 74. It is the wettest year he can


remember in farming. I just, it is one year I would love to forget but


I'm sure we never will. Crikey, mate, how bad was that? Last year


was awful. It was demoralising. It never stopped raining. Everything


was covered in mud. Very unpleasant to work in, very bad for the morale


of the blokes. It was like the to work in, very bad for the morale


battle of the Somme every day. We had a crop that was 30% down in


yield. We really need a good year this year to make up for last year.


Can I just say, I'm no expert, but this doesn't look like the


healthiest of fields. It looks half dead. I thought you knew all about


farming. When the crop is ready, we burn the tops off and that enables


the skin to set and get tough, so that when we handle it we can store


it. As opposed to your new potato, where you have your fluffy skin. I


never knew that is what made it. That bit over there is just about


ready to burn off. The tops are dying back naturally but we'll


finish them off. Thank you, I've learnt something there. Generations


of farmers have learnt to look after the potato. But what made us fall in


love with this little tuber? Farmers know the potato as a surprisingly


complex character. Scarred is skin and black eyes suggest a bit of a


bruiser. But the potato is a surprisingly fragile soul. It needs


careful tending. People and potatoes have looked after each other since


the Inca first cultivated the crop for food some 6,000 years ago. Grown


on the terraces of the Palace at Machu Picchu and across Peru, spuds


thrived in the wet, cool mountain climate. So they felt at home when


they arrived in Britain 400 years ago. Now, if it is not only our


favourite vegetable, it is by far the most grown vegetable crop on


earth. Our ancestors loved what was then an exotic new wonder, because


eat within the skin the spud contains nearly all the minerals and


vitamins we need for life. But these days the likes of pasta and rice


compete with the old staple crops. You may find this hard to believe,


but vegetable consumption in the UK is actually falling. To keep his


fields busy our Farmer Andrew can't just rely on growing the old


favourites. He needs to entice us just rely on growing the old


into eating more vegetable by developing exciting new varieties.


This very special trial patch is his secret weapon. Here Andrew's planted


exotic new vegetable he has discovered on his world travels. And


who knows? Maybe in this field in Lincolnshire is hidden the next top


vegetable, something none of us has ever seen before. What about that,


Andrew? What have you got to look at? Let's hope so.Look at that, an


orange cauliflower. Innovation? Yep. I know you like to mess around with


vegetable. I know you do, but how important is innovation to your


business or any vegetable business? It's extremely important, especially


to our business. We have to keep reinventing ourselves, keep creating


premium lines. Why? Tell me. Is it because you get more money for


something new? Yeah, well, there's the old saying that today's premium


is tomorrow's standard, and you try and find me an example of that that


isn't true. Absolutely, because I've heard that you were trendy once. Now


look at you! Yeah, same with you! I heard that about you! Big crate,


loads of lovely veg. I've got a game for you here, right? I'm a


greengrocer. You're the farmer. Try to convince me to buy some of these


things. Some of the things we do are just for colour, so the orange


cauliflower, the purple cauliflower - they're just for colour. Some of


the things I've got here I've selected out for fla r. I went to


Japan last year and I brought back one or two really special things.


Let's have a look at this one. That looks to me very much like a


standard Chinese leaf. Yeah, but it ain't. This is a cross between a


cabbage and a lettuce. You can shave it and use it in a salad, like an


iceberg, You have a taste of that. Will it braise like a - like a


cabbage? Yeah, you can stir-fry, or braise it. Now, you thought it was a


Chinese leaf cabbage. Chinese leaf has a hairy petiole, leaf stem. And


that is as smooth as you like. Yeah. That is juicy. And you can eat it


raw. Chinese leaf you can't eat raw. Try that. So that can be a lettuce


or a cabbage? Mmmm. So for the summer periods when vegetable


consumption's down, and we're quiet as a business, this has a really


good potential for us to fill our summer season. Do you know what? I


thought I'd seen it all, I really did. That is a beautiful thing. It's


got a slight like hint of allium, like slight onion at the end. Yep, a


little bit of peppery aftertaste. Mate, that is good. What else you


got? What else you got? This one. That's a Kohlrabi. It ain't just any


old Kohlrabi, this is a melon Kohlrabi. You're enjoying this,


mate. Yep. You have a taste of this Oh my word, That is a little bit


like an apple, maybe a little bit like a melon, and a gain just really


fresh. I can't believe you can take a Kohlrabli like that and eat it


raw. Yep, it's amazingThat is amazing Yep, looks like a kohlrabi,


but I mean all the guys in the factory thought it was a melon when


we blind tasted it. Is that right? Hmmm. Mate, are these in the shops


yet? No, this is all brand new stuff, and we haven't got enough of


it to actually start selling yet. So what we do through the trials


process, we have the discovery phase, which is what we're looking


at now. Then we start to scale things up, so maybe four or five


acres. Give it a try through the shops. If it sells well, we scale it


up until we've got a full scale product on our hands. You know what


I do? You know I work with food. Yep, I heard a rumour. That is


amazing! That was good. Yeah, it's incredible. I mean, that was good.


That is incredible. Well done, mate. , I am really, really impressed.


This sweet shop of exotic veg isn't just exciting, it's puzzling. How do


you come up with whole new crop variety? For such big questions,


we've enlisted food fanatic Stefan Gates.


There are 400,000 different plant species in nature. Our food comes


from just 12. From these humans have created a dazzling array of


different crop varieties, each with a natural appearance and taste.


Everything about them is constantly being refined by evolution.


Sometimes a mutation happens by chance, which means a plant is more


likely to survive, so if you've got a gene that makes you slightly


taller than your neighbours, you'll get more sunlight and so you're more


likely to thrive. Natural selection is a lengthy process, but through


artificial selection farmers can speed things up by selecting the


characteristics we like best. Mangetout peas are usually green.


The plant's genes act like an internal instruction manual telling


it to produce a green pod. But what if there is a chance mutant, a


random plant, with purple pods? And it's the purple colour that I want


to keep. By cross-pollinating the flowers of the purple pea plants


with those of other plants, it's possible to help it reproduce. So we


can artificially spread the genes of the purple pods around. And this


increases the chances of purple offspring. It's a painstakingly slow


process because you have to do this over and over again over generations


of peas. But eventually most of my crop should be purple.


In this trial field our farmer Andrew has planted his pick of the


best new varieties bred all over the world. To pay for these new veg


developments he is desperate that 2013 is good year for one of his


biggest sellers, the Potato. ??FORCEDYELOW Only now with the


potato harvest beginning, will Andrew discover how many precious


spuds have survived the chilly spring and hot dry summer. And


Andrew's also worried about his broccoli. Along with carrots, onions


and many others, all crops with their own particular needs that must


be met through the year. Seeing the world from their crop's point of


view is absolutely vital for a farmer's success. They all have


different requirements, the crops. For example, carrots like a light,


sandy type of soil if they're going to do well. Broccoli likes an alkali


soil. And potatoes, well, they need lots of sunshine and lots of rain if


they're going to thrive. Most of these veg are planted out as tiny,


tiny seeds, but not the potato. The potato comes from another potato, a


seed potato. And when I'm gardening, it always amazes me how you can


plant these out and then at harvest time they've multiplied into so, so


many more. And of course, it's harvest time now, a critical time


for our farmer Andrew as he finds out just how many potatoes his seed


potatoes have multiplied into. It was back in April that we joined him


as he was planting out his seed potatoes, and keeping his fingers


firmly crossed. So we're planting these lovely


Mozart potatoes. This is a time of optimism when we're planting the new


crops, and if you can't be optimistic at this time of year as a


farmer, you may as well pack up. You can just see the little shoot on the


end where it's just starting to grow. From this one potato we'll


probably get another 20 potatoes To prevent disease building up in his


plants, Andrew doesn't use any of last year's crop as seed potatoes.


Each spring he plants fresh seed potatoes bought from specialist


breeders. We've got a big machine. It's got a tank on the back. We're


going to put these in the ground, six inches deep, and a foot apart,


and we should have about 20 tonnes an acre come September. The cup


comes through, picks up the potato, makes a little hole, plants it, and


buries it again. It's a beautiful day, only three


weeks ago when there was snow on the ground. The soil at eight or nine


inches deep is still very cold, and that's going to get us off to a bit


of a slow start. I've got these potatoes on the ridges. We try and


grow them as close as possible from north to south cos the sun rises in


the east and this lovely broad edge we've got to the ridge really


absorbs the sun. Stick your finger in there now. I can even feel the


warmth that's gathered here today compared with the cold soil we've


cultivated over there. compared with the cold soil we've


cultivated the soil. We've got all the clods out, and we've used all


the best bits to actually grow the potato in, which is going to give us


a lovely smooth skin and a nice shape on the potato. And when we


come to harvest in September, it'll be nice and easy to separate the


potatoes from the soil. We're going to invest over £100,000 growing the


crop in this field. Plus, there's a million quid's worth of kit tied up


in harvesting and planting equipment and irrigation. And if everything


goes well, and we grow a good crop, we make about 0.2p per potato.


goes well, and we grow a good crop, Potatoes only get one shot a year.


It's crucial to get it right. Back then in April, Andrew didn't know a


heatwave would hit in July, just when his potatoes wanted water. Now


Andrew is harvesting those spuds, soon we'll discover how that heat


affected the crop. Andrew's profit margin is just point 2p per potato.


So he's got to fill massive crate after massive crate - this many and


at least the same again just from this one farm. Righto, Ron.Time to


meet his harvest machine. Thanks for stopping it, cos this is a massive


big beast, and I want to have a look at this in a minute, but I've got to


ask you, .2p profit on a potato - you've got to do five to make a


penny. Yep, and that's after you've grown a good crop. Only if you get a


good crop, by my calculations if you want to make £2,000 profit, you've


got to sell, what, a million potatoes? I'm not very good at


maths, but sounds about right. :No. You're looking with the tractor at


about £200,000 worth of investment with this machine. I don't see the


economics. I just don't get it. I know. I sometimes wonder. Every


potato is important, and if that's so, this doesn't look like the most


gentlest of things to take care of them, if I'm honest. No, it's a very


simple but clever design. Basically, we've got the big digging spade on


the front. That lifts the whole bed of soil and potatoes onto the web.


It goes under them? The web is like a giant sieve. Got you.It sieves


the potatoes through the soil. The a giant sieve. Got you.It sieves


potatoes carry on through the machine, then go up to the elevator


into the yard. We're just at the start of our potato harvest now. We


have seven or eight busy weeks coming up now, probably the busiest


of the year. What I am thinking is we don't just eat fruit and veg in


the spring and summer. We want it 365 days a year. How clever do our


farmers have to be to get produce in the cold months even if the ground


is frozen? Mid-January doesn't look like harvest season, but it is.


It seems the animals have winter's playground all to themselves.


Apart from one solitary figure, farmer Ian Hall.


I'll have a look here. Carrots, fresh from the ground in the middle


of winter - it's no surprise to Ian. He planted these carrots last


spring, and all summer they've grown big and strong.


By October, they were ready. But not for harvest. It was time to put them


to bed. Every further furtherers like Ian store more than 10,000


acres of carrots in fields right across the UK. We're covering the


crop with a sheet of black plastic. What that does is, that keeps the


light out so these tops and these carrots don't start to regrow, so we


protect the bed with that, and then we put a layer of straw on it which


protects the carrots from the layer of cold, keeps them lovely and warm,


a bit like your quilt at home. Throughout the long winter months,


the earth acts as Mother Nature's larder, keeping Ian's carrots fresh


and ready for harvest at any time. On this freezing January day, Ian's


got to fill 27 tractor and trailer loads. So it's time to wake this


field of carrots up. Time to bring in the monster carrot harvester.


Interestingly, the worse the weather, the more challenging


environment we have to work in, the more the orders go up. Carrot sales


will always be higher when it's cold. People go back to stews and


traditional Sunday roast. Around a third of our carrots are put to


sleep under straw for harvest in winter. Unlike most other veg,


they're grown in light, sandy soil, which breaks apart when chilly. It


wouldn't work for potatoes grown in heavy soil. They have to be


harvested before winter and kept in expensive cold storage. For these


carrots, Mother Nature does the chilling. While we're all snowed in


at home, the British harvest must continue. The demand for carrots


at home, the British harvest must never stops.


business or any vegetable business? Well, carrots are big business -


they're worth over £300 million each year. Do you know, in a really good


harvest we dig up about 100 carrots for every single person in this


country. So by now you should have eaten 70 or 80 of them. Have you?


Well, that's carrots. Right now we're in the middle of a broccoli


field, another one of Andrew's big passions, and we are smack bang in


the middle of the harvest. And I've got to ask you, there's no ignoring


it, what is that enormous tent on wheels? Well, that's my favourite


toy that I went to California and got this idea and what that does is


it's a factory in the field. What, there's a gang of guys working


it's a factory in the field. What, inside that thing as well? Wrapping


and labeling. Well, that is state of the art isn't it? And right at the


cutting edge of that is Philippa right now. Now this is actually


quite a tricky one to harvest, what I have to do is assess how heavy


that broccoli is then cut the same length as width of that broccoli in


one swift movement, remove the leaves and put it in the right


container for the right supermarket, leaves and put it in the right


because different containers, colours want different weights in


them so there's a lot to think about. And also you have to move


fairly swiftly otherwise you're going to get run over at the same


time! It's worth it though, broccoli is a super food. Let's find out more


about it. Rich in vitamins D and C. Bursting with antioxidants. Broccoli


is a cousin of the cabbage and the cauliflower. You can trace its


family tree back thousands of years to Italy. Calabrese, as they say,


must be planted in warm soil. What we eat is actually an immature


flower head. Leave it a moment too long and it goes over into bloom.


It's a tricky blighter, broccoli. Timing is all important. At the end


of March, Andrew's broccoli timings were in crisis due to the weather.


It was exceptionally cold and were in crisis due to the weather.


Andrew's fields weren't drying out enough to use the broccoli planting


machine. So a staggering 20 million young broccoli and cauliflower


plants were stuck in the greenhouses, because they couldn't


be put in the ground. When the fields were ready, they all had to


go in at once. But getting the broccoli plants in


was only the beginning. The long, cold spring dragged on, and on.


Andrew, it is a stunning crop now. How did you fair through that really


difficult spring then? Well, it was very cold, the plants were late, the


four planters that we put in in April, it was so cold they didn't


grow at all and then when it did warm up, they all grew together and


we had a glut of broccoli at the end of June. Which is great isn't it?


No, because we overloaded the market place. We should be planting every


day and we should be harvesting every day, so if we get four lots


that come together, we have too much. The hardest thing about


broccoli is supply and demand. When the sun comes out and it gets warm,


it grows like crazy and nobody wants to eat vegetables. So what happened?


We sold some off into freezing, some off to export, and some of it we had


to plough in. You didn't?Yep, we did. So you were harvesting four


lots all at once as well? Yep.That must have been difficult?


lots all at once as well? Yep.That 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Through the night? You cant do that through the night! It's got


fantastic floodlights on it and we double-shifted it. Sharp knives,


darkness? You have got a cracking crop now. And Gregg is packing it.


I'm on an amazing moving factory and I'm here with Boxer, who is in


charge of this rig, right? Yes.How long have you had this moving


warehouse? Three years now.Let me understand what's happening had,


we've got a team of cutters at the front? Yes.And then it is coming


in, taken off these, and every now and then one is weighed to check,


and then you have to get them Cellophane lap wrapped? We put a


label on it and she is like the last person who is checking. For all the


picking and weighing we wrap it in Cellophane, put a sticker in it. How


long does it take for each spear of the broccoli to go through the


cutters, selection, weighing and machinery and packing? About one


minute. And you have to get that broccoli just before it flowers.


However, with Andrew's potato crop, flowering is vitally important.


It was in July that Farmer Andrew was checking his spud crop at the


crucial flowering time. We are here in this beautiful field of Maris


Piper pool. It is coming into flower. They are very pretty. Are


they are an indicator as to what's going on under the ground. We start


off with the mother tuber. This is the seed potato we plant in the


spring and the stems produce the little potatoes. These liny potatoes


here. And these are the baby potatoes that swell to turn into


these and then eventually into the bake being potatoes you see in the


shops. What the plant needs now to get these potatoes to their full


size is plenty of water and plenty of sunshine. Ouch sight under e is


plenty of water and plenty of sunshine. Ouch sight underground --


out of sight underground Andrew hopes it is a miracle of nature -


potatoes forming in the soil. To unearth the magic, here's Stefan


Gates. How and why does sunshine and water get converted into a potato?


Gates. How and why does sunshine and Above ground, photosynthesis creates


the sugars the plant needs to grow. Any extra issuing arrest the plant


the sugars the plant needs to grow. doesn't need to use immediately are


instead used as building blocks to make larger starch molecule's. The


starch is stored in the potato tuber we eat. Starch doesn't dissolve in


water, so it is a safe water to store energy in the wet earth. Every


single potato is like a power cell for the plant, packed to bursting


with starch molecules. And that means it is full of energy. The


potato use ooze its stored energy to grow a new plant. We use that starch


for food. I know when you taste a potato you don't think of the


energy, but have a look. I'm putting a couple of teaspoons of starch into


this piping and then blow it across a naked flame to see what happens.


What you saw there was the energy being released in just about 30 or


40 calories of starch. The average spud contains around 150 calories.


About ten potatoes would provide all your daily needs. This isn't


recommended, but skin on potatoes are so rich in nutrients that


supplemented with a bit of butter for fat, you would pretty much live


just eating potatoes. Back in early July Farmer Andrew knew exactly what


he wanted for his spuds to fill out. Sunshine is the key thing. We can


put as much water on as we want but we can't make the sunshine. And boy


oh boy did the sun shine in July! The longest heat wave this century,


and it was Heaven sent for potato farmers like Andrew. Long, dry


conditions aren't a crisis for commercial growers. They invest in


ir gaig systems to spoke their spuds. Farmers know that every year


their plants will require lots of water. Once they've flowered, to


build up the potatoes. But even with the exceptional summer sun in July


and August, growers couldn't know for sure what was happening out of


sight in the soil. Now we are in the potato harvest, only the end of


today will Andrew really know the the quality and quantity. So there


seems to be plenty of potatoes here, mate. How many more fields have you


got to go? We've only just started sta. We've got another 20 or 30


fields to go yet. Where do they go from here? From here to the pack


house for washing and sorting for supermarkets. What's some of your


biggest issues? There's loads of challenges, but the biggest one is


potato blight. What is that?It is a fungal disease that kills the


foliage and rots the potato. If you get it in your crop it is a


disaster. It spreads quickly across the country. What can you do?We


have to spray. This year was dry, so we sprayed once a fortnight. We hate


spraying, because pit costs a fortune. Tell me honestly, is it a


question of the you don't spray you lose the lot? If you have got potato


blight in your crop, it's a write-off. Potato blight is one of


the natural enemies farmers have to contend with. Can you imagine if you


could grow in an environment you contend with. Can you imagine if you


could control? Philippa visited a farm in Kent where they are


attempting just that. It is a freezing morning, minus 1, with


highs of 3 degrees. So if you are out and about, wrap up warm... In


the middle of winter, and in the middle of the night, here in Kent


they harvest tomatoes. Tomatoes. An Army of pickers marches to work. And


today I'm joining them The Morning Philippa, how are you? Freezing.You


can take off your winter stuff now. Yeah? Leaving winter outside,


suddenly I feel like I'm walking into summer. It goes on forever!


It's amazing! It is isn't it?What an enormous place. Is this what


happens to me if I stay in this greenhouse? I turn into the size of


you. Have you spent doing in the greenhouse? I have.Dutch tomato


you. Have you spent doing in the guru Gert van Straalen is a big man


with an even bigger office. He's hoping his greenhouse will give him


a bigger bite out of the UK the tomato business. Worth over £600


million, and growing. UK farmers only meet about one fifth of our


demand. So there's plenty of room for them to expand their market


share. So if I look down there I can hardly see the end. If I look down


there, I can hardly see the tend. How big is it? It is about 25 acres


or ten football pitches. This one greenhouse is 25 acres? It is.So


how many tomato plants does that translate to? We have 400,000 plants


in the greenhouse and we'll be producing 50,000 kilos of tomatoes


this week. We are the only ones in the UK who produce fruit through the


winter. 50,000 kilos of tomatoes? In the middle of winter? How does Gert


do it? Like his plants, I'm heading had up towards the rising sun to


find out. This is an altogether very different view. It goes on for


miles! This is where it happens. We've got blue sky today and it is


easy to forget that it is absolutely freezing. It is.We were in here


since it was dark, so how are you freezing. It is.We were in here


managing to grow tomatoes in the middle of the UK in the middle of


winter? The secret is is this Formula One greenhouse. We have all


the ingredients that you need for perfect plant growing. During the


winter months, daylight just isn't enough. So these huge lights


illuminate and heat the greenhouse 16 hours a day. Buying electricity


off the grid would be expensive, so this greenhouse has its own


gas-fired power station that waste heat is fed back into the


glasshouse. They also pipe waste carbon dioxide from the power plant


into the tomato plants. The extra CO2 increases photosynthesis, so


they grow quick we are. These plants are so happy. Yes, they are. You can


see - they're much bigger than any tomato plant I have ever grown. Yes,


the plants grow a foot a week. That's extraordinary! We actually


have more light available to the plants than a Spanish or Italian


producer would have. Outside? Outside, correct. So in here, it's


better than the Mediterranean? It is. He is able to control every


aspect of the growing environment. He's regulating the temperature and


making sure his tomato plants have all the food and water they need.


It's this high-tech greenhouse that allows him to produce his tomatoes


year around. Tomatoes picked today should taste just as good as those


harvested in the summer, but I still haven't tasted one yet.


You can lay out all the tomatoes you want, but my deep belief is I will


never find another tomato to match the first one of the year that I


pick off the plant in my own greenhouse. You couldn't be further


from the truth! There's one particular variety of variety he


thinks will win me over. This is called piccolo. That's the perfect


tomato, really sweet with just enough crunch. Is it better than


yours? Not nearly as good as mine, but nine out of ten. You're nearly


there. Thank you.Some question the energy cost of growing tomatoes in


Britain in winter. Gert would argue it's no worse than shipping them in


from Spain or Holland where they're grown in similar greenhouses. In the


end, it's our insatiable appetite for tomatoes that fuels the


development of facilities like this and keeps the tomato harvest going


year around. Tromt toes aren't the only produce


we're very particular about. Growers know they must deliver


appealing-looking veg to tempt us to take that their harvest home. Months


of worry and hard work nurturing these potatoes may yet come to


nothing. They may yet make it out of the ground but are they good enough


to go to the shops? And here are the first of the potato harvest. They're


bought here after you have harvested them to be sorted, but actually,


this is also crucial quality control for you, isn't it? Yes, this is one


of the first of the harvest at the moment. We have to treat these


delicately without breaking them. It's surprising to me - the rough,


tough spud but you have to be gentle with them. It's not rough at all. It


bruises very easily. How do you sort that out through the system? With


well designed machinery with maximum drops of three or four inches.


Quality control is obviously important to you before any potato


leaves here? That's right. We have a simulator, which I'll show you down


here. This very simple little device delivers enough force to simulate a


five-inch drop on the concrete. This potato will then go in what we call


a hot box, which is a sort of warm, potato will then go in what we call


like an airing cupboard with high humidity, for 24 hours, and then the


next day you get the potatoes out of the hot box and we peel then. And


we're looking for the bruising. And the most susceptible places are on


the ends of the potatoes. These are clean. There's no bruising in these.


So it really is quite a process, after? I just thought you had to dig


them up and send them off. If only life was that easy. But you're


actually really checking out the bruises, potential, and the ones


that are bruised. And what happens to the ones that are bruised? If we


get a sample with too many bruising on, we can't use it for our premium


outlets, so it will end up going for processing or for animal feed. So


these potatoes going in there now, what happens to them? We're going to


size them, so we'll split them into small and large, and then they're


going to go away to the packhouse for washing and pre-packing. Harvest


2013 is heading our way. Over the next year, on average, each one of


us will eat the equivalent of 450 medium-sized potatoes. --


380-medium-sized potatoes. Everything about spuds comes in big


numbers, except the profit per bag. To make money most vegetable farmers


have to scale up their operation. But I've met a one grower whose big


idea is a small-scale harvest, tiny, in fact! To search out this


micro-business, I headed north to Scotland. St Andrews is famous as


the home of golf. But it's also home to a small farm that's supplying


some very customers with some rather extraordinary veg. Now, are they


baby vegetables or have I grown an enormous head? They're cute,


baby vegetables or have I grown an they? And I'd really like to find


out more about them. Henry Aykroyd used to grow normal-size veg for


some of our biggest supermarkets. But he struggled to make it pay. So


he down-sized his product, and now his customer base is more


Michelin-starred, people like Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. Ooh,


is it harvest time? That's right. Can I lend a hand? Course you can.


I'll be quite gentle with it. Beautiful little turnips. How do you


get them to only grow to that size? Well, it's all about plant density,


really. These are grown at nearly 800 to the square metre. In these


perfect conditions in here, they just take four or five weeks to


grow. N So if they were more spaced out, they'd get bigger. That's it,


is it? Yes. More time and more space, they get much bigger. And how


much is the average order? We're charging 25p a unit for these. Some


people might think that's ridiculously expensive, but I don't.


I don't. I can see that. I mean, in a smart restaurant you probably only


get three of those on a plate anyway. So that's 75p. He's growing


some fantastic veg, and I suppose shrinking his business literally has


increased the profit. I mean, he used to get 25p for half a kilo of


veg. Now he gets 25p for every single little turnip. But it isn't


all about the size. He's also experimenting with some


revolutionary growing techniques. It's like a disco for little plants!


Henry is collaborating with Professor John Allen. In the 1960s


John developed the world's first practical LED lights. Now John is


working with the horticulture industry to research how coloured


LEDs may increase plant growth. Right. Are you going to explain, or


try to explain, some of the science behind this to me? Yes, here I've


got some radishes. They've been growing for three weeks from seed.


And these were grown under 100% red light, and you can see the top


growth is quite long. And these have been grown under 100% blue. And you


see they're very much shorter. No chemicals? No chemicals, just light.


No growing additives? No growing additives. That's just crazy. The


difference between those three is entirely the colour of the light.


John's red light has increased photosynthesis in his plant, making


it grow bigger. But John's also discovered that combining red light


with blue light increases root growth. And that could make better


veg. So if the light can affect the shape and colour of the plant, I'm


almost scared to ask this - could it shape and colour of the plant, I'm


affect the flavour? Yes. You can try it. Have a bit of that and have a


bit of that. And see if they're different. Well, that one's quite


strong and peppery. That one's mild. Yes. They taste completely


different. Yes, this is exciting. It's very, very exciting. Anything


else? The nutritional quality of the plant can be changed by the colour


of the light. A red or blue light or a combination can actually make our


foods better for us? That's right, and that's important. That's


seriously important. Science is fun! You're going to be really famous.


You won't any longer have to do Father Christmas in the department




Well, it brings in useful pocket money. John isn't alone in


researching the effects of light on plant growth and taste. The results


may have a really big impact on our future harvest. At the moment,


Henry's feeding high-end diners, but John hopes that one day what they


learn with these tiny crops will help feed the world with higher


quality vegetable vegetables. Now, look at that. Who 'd have ever


believed it that you could actually change the flavour of a vegetable by


shining a different coloured light on it? Henry and John may appear to


be a bit eccentric, but I think they have stumbled on something here. I


know it's early days, but this could be the future. A different colour


light can make a vegetable taste better and make it more nutritious.


That is amazing. But right now, what concerns us more


is Andrew's crop. Now, Andrew, unlike other vegetables, your


potatoes have been growing under the ground, so they're being lifted for


the first time today, and now we'll get a real idea of the quality and


quantity. That's right. This is the day of judgment, the moment of


truth. It doesn't matter how many times you sample. You never know


what you have until you put your harvester in. Is that the first


load? Are you happy with the yield? I am. I am not quite up to target


but a lot more than this time last year. So the indications are it's


going the right way? Going the right way. Right. A cook like me, an old


green grocer, what's the quality like? I am very happy with this


quality of crop. It's a lovely, waxy, fresh potato. You look pretty


satisfied. I am happy.Where you been? On the tractor? Yeah, you know


me and farm machinery. I can't help it. Big boys' toys, eh?I love it.


How is the broccoli harvest going now? Very well since June. We're


going flat out until the middle of November. That's amazing. Potatoes


are up. That's good. Broccoli, good. Any late successes? Onions, I don't


think are ever going to make the target. Mixed report, but all in


all... I am happier than last year. Good to know. The question is, are


we going to import into the UK potatoes and other vegetables this


year, or will we be self-sufficient? Time to find out how harvest 2013


year, or will we be self-sufficient? has affected the rest of the


country. Let's look at the national picture,


starting with potatoes. In a year, on average, we grow 5.7 million


tonnes, but in 2012, wet weather hit potatoes hard. The crop was down


nearly a quarter. Harvest 2013 will be better. We predict spuds up 20%


on last year. The glorious summer broke the record for salad sales.


Congratulations to our farmers who grew more than 15% more salad leaf


than last year, but it's not all good news. Some veg struggled to


grow in the cold spring, and farmers are still counting the costs.


Carrots are currently down about 8%, but they should catch up. What about


onions? On average, we grow 400,000 tonnes of onions a year. In 2012,


onion farmers failed to reach that target. Harvest 2013 is likely to be


even worse. Onions didn't get the warm spring needed for their bulbs


even worse. Onions didn't get the to fill out. But good news for


brussel sprouts lovers. In 2012, sprouts fell well short. But this


year, early reports suggest a green Christmas, sprouts may be up a


third. So on the whole, our vegetable farmers are happy in the


sun of 2013. So Andrew, a brief moment to just


sit with us and think about how this year's gone cos we have been


following you through this whole year, which has been such a


privilege, and thank you for having us, and it's been amazing to see


just what you go through and what you're faced with in the course of a


year. It all starts again tomorrow for us. We're already planning and


planting next year's crops, at Christmas, King Edward potatoes,


parsnips and brussel sprouts - they all go mad at Christmas. So you've


got another harvest before the end of the year? We have a huge week -


got another harvest before the end the biggest week of our year is


Christmas week. Is it? And you still have a smile on your face. I don't


know why. Can we get stuck into some of these, chips here - I mean


roastiesactually when you look at this you're actually providing the


nation's favourite food, aren't you? That's the plan. Look at that. I


don't know anyone in these beautiful windswept islands that doesn't enjoy


these. No. Well, we've got Maris Piper for the chips, King Edward for


the roasties and Corral for the Piper for the chips, King Edward for


salads. See I haven't eaten one of these, can I? Help yourself. Skin on


man, are you? Tell me what you think of them? It's soft and really


earthy. You don't know a dairy farmer who has a kilo of butter, do


you? Not around here.We're set. We have some nice beer. Tell you what's


impressed me - two things - one is the scale of the operation to farm


potatoes. The other is the passion for the subject. How did it get


under your skin like that? I just love farming, growing crops, growing


great crops on great farmers is so satisfying. And this year


particularly must have been a bit more satisfying. Last year was a


disaster. I want to forget about it. It's a year I'll probably never


forget - wish I could. This year has been good fun. Despite having us lot


around. Despite having you lot around. We have had quite a laugh


really. We have learnt so much. Thank you so much. If you want to


pick up tips and recipes written by the great Gregg Wallace, go to our


website and you can download this leaflet. They're not just some


recipes. They're fantastic. They're delicious. You can find out about


events surrounding the harvest near you, free ones as well. I would like


to raise a glass because where would we be in Britain in the UK without


the potato? Cheers to the potato. Cheers to you, Andrew. King Edward.


Next time: As the harvest continues, we unleash the combines. We discover


what it takes to bring in our daily bread. Join us for Harvest 2013


tomorrow at 8.00pm.


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