Blog de SVPlants
7 Sep 2014
A brief word on the situation concerning extra early leek production in Europe.

Young or early harvested leeks are highly valued by consumers of this vegetable because of the characteristics that set them apart from other leek plants grown the rest of the year. Early leeks are harvested from mid-May through to early August, and are smaller, softer, more flavoursome and refined than the winter variety. The price per kilo of early leek plants is quoted higher than other varieties grown the rest of the year, due to the increased production costs and low crop yield. 

The first extra early leeks are harvested in Europe during May and June. They are mainly produced in Cadiz (Spain), Almeirim and Peniche (Portugal), and Nantes (France). These regions are conducive to growing extra early leek plants owing to two key factors: sandy soil and a climate with mild winter temperatures largely related to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Cadiz, Spain

The area of cultivation for early leeks during the last season was approximately 310 hectares. This region is where young leeks are harvested the earliest in all Europe. The first transplants begin in weeks 51 – 52, harvesting the first leek plants towards the end of April or at the beginning of May. The growers in this region plant using seedling leeks grown in nursery hotbeds.

  • Almeirim and Peniche, Portugal

Alongside Cádiz, this region is also home to the earliest harvest of young leeks. This year (2014) the cultivation area for leeks has been 160 hectares. The week when the planting and harvesting of young leeks takes place is very similar to that of Cádiz. The growers in this region also use seedling leek plants. However, unlike the Cádiz-based producers, Portuguese producers use plants grown in nursery hotbeds as well as in cold frames.

  • Nantes, France

This region is the traditional producer of early leeks in Europe par excellence. Historically, the region of Nantes has and continues to be the leading area for early leek production. In recent years the production area has decreased slightly due to competition from southern European regions. The planting area for early leeks in the 2014 season has been approximately 410 hectares. The first transplants begin in S.2 – 3, harvesting the first leek plants towards the end of May, beginning of June. Of all three regions, Nantes is where the harvest of young leeks starts the latest. The growers in this region plant using seedling leeks grown in nursery hotbeds.

The 2015 season expects to see an approximate reduction of 15% in the area dedicated to early leeks across all three regions. This is a result of the poor economic performance experienced by leek producers and growers in 2014.

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