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Look what sprouted up! Mega harvest of Christmas staple

THESE stunning photographs show one of the UK’s largest Brussels sprouts farms which produces more than 600million of the vegetables in December alone.

Agricultural giant Drysdales is based at Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, and has produced sprouts, swedes and leeks for the past 30 years.

It is one of the main producers in Britain, and in the run up to Christmas staffing numbers are nearly tripled from 150 to 450.

The farm is currently growing 19 established varieties of sprouts, and another 14 which are being developed.

All in a row: Mr McLachlan in the farm’s sprout field

Sprout plants cover 1,000 acres of fields at the £1.6million processing base which is a supplier for most of the major supermarkets.

Some 617 million sprouts are processed at Drysdales in December alone, which are distributed around the UK.

The industry itself is valued at £650million a year.

Ian McLachlan, 49, farming and facilities director at Drysdales, said: ‘It’s the busiest time of the year.

‘We’ll harvest a third in the month of December.

Perfectionist: Ian McLachlan

‘It is quite a big time of the year for us — there’s less of a demand for sprouts at barbecues in the summer but we do supply all year round.

‘Things will quieten down a bit on Christmas Eve but today is the biggest shopping day for supermarkets.’

Planting happens in April and May, and the harvest starts in August and finishes in April — potentially at the same time as the new crop is being planted.

Only 40 per cent of the sprouts plants are harvested, with the rest put back into the soil.

Soil samples are carried out to ensure the earth is suitable for growing vegetables.

Mr McLachlan started working at Drysdales aged 14 years old, in 1984, and later spent ten years in the Royal Navy and another five years working for another supplier.

He admitted that he is a big fan of the Christmas dinner staple.

Mr McLachlan said: ‘I like them either roasted or boiled.

‘I believe they should be the last thing to be cooked.’