Neil Thomson gains an insight to the Spanish vegetable sector

In what seems like a parallel universe, I found myself in a Spanish bar recently listening to a Spanish comedian. We were taken there by our guide for the day, Javier, after a busy day inspecting some broccoli crops near Murcia in the south eastern corner of his country.

Needless to say none of our group spoke Spanish, so the humour of the obviously brilliant comic was lost on us. Never mind, there were some pretty girls serving the beer.

The whole trip was over in no more than 48 hours, but in that time we saw some interesting new varieties that we are keen to try ourselves. Just as important, the time spent together in our group of seven consisting of growers and management of our vegetable co-op, East of Scotland Growers, was useful for developing ideas for improving our own methods of production.

The Spanish are in full production at the moment, but the agricultural pace of life appears languid. That comes I am sure with the almost full knowledge that the weather will be the same as the day before, which we all know is not something we are used to. Cooler than expected temperatures just now are affecting yields and getting good financial margins must be difficult. Costs are apparently equally as high as ours, add to that the cost of four days of transport to our shores it is a wonder each head of broccoli is not worth the same as the Spanish national debt.

Selling a few cattle recently has been a lot more pleasant experience than buying their replacements will be in a few weeks time. Store cattle prices appear daft, but every year I say that, and no doubt we will take a punt on a few for summer grazing. The gamble is bound to have better odds than England’s rugby team winning the Six Nations tournament despite their lucky win against Scotland.

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