IN MOST years huge tonnages of white cabbage is shipped in from Holland to satisfy spring and summer demand. But Marshall, who is also a wholesaler and retailer, says the quality of home-grown produce can equal that of imports, so this demand ought to be met by UK growers
"It seems absolutely stupid to ship in Dutch-grown cabbage when we could produce it ourselves," says Roger Marshall, who grows 32ha (80acres) of red and white cabbage on his own farm near Donington and on rented land.
"But the market must be established before anyone tries to take on the Dutch. It is easy to grow 100 acres of cabbages and hope they will sell, but this is the quickest way I know to lose a lot of money.
If outlets are found, the crop is grown properly, and quality produce is marketed at the right time, then everything is in place for a successful venture."
According to MAFF, growers in England and Wales harvested 1.4m tonnes of white storage cabbage from 2,500ha (6,200 acres) in the 1995/96 season, with 56% of the crop grown on farms in Lincolnshire.
That was also when he made his first fact-finding visit to the Dutch seed houses to see which varieties were available, and to learn how they grow cabbages.
Now, about 85% of his crop sown with white varieties, the rest with red types. A range of 10 varieties, selected for head shape, density, core size, peelability and storability, provides a harvest from early August until mid November.
Imports tend to have larger heads than normally produced here, but by aiming for 1.25kg head weights for about a quarter of his crop, he can peel and grade out a final product to suit a range of outlets.