All set for rhubarb festival after a good year for crops

Rows of rhubarb sit ready and waiting as tours to see the red crop are filling up ahead of the city's popular food, drink and rhubarb festival next weekend.

Friday, 16th February 2018, 2:20 pm
Updated Friday, 16th February 2018, 2:25 pm

There is just one week to go until the three-day festival gets underway next Friday.

And at the Oldroyd’s farm in Carlton, this year’s favourable growing conditions mean the rhubarb forcing sheds are looking their best. People can book a tour to see them throughout the festival weekend.

Grower Janet Oldroyd-Hulme said: “This year the yield has been better for us than it has for a long time and the quality has been very good.

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“The sheds for the festival are now ready and waiting - that doesn’t always happen, sometimes it is nail-biting thinking hurry up and grow, as we want people to see them at their best when they come on the tours.

“Demand has also been high for the forced rhubarb this year and it is increasing as we get towards the festival.”

Rhubarb is native of Siberia, but conditions around Rothwell, Wakefield and Morley, better known as the Rhubarb Triangle, are perfect for growing the plant.

The crops start life outside in the light, with plenty of rain, a cool British climate and in nitrogen-rich soil.

The roots are left to mature for two years, building up an energy supply.

The next stage in the process relies on early winter frosts, which enable the plant to convert the energy into a form it can use to live off and grow when it is moved inside to the forcing sheds.

Once in the sheds, the plant grows in complete darkness, in a warm and moist environment, before being harvested by candlelight.

Janet Oldroyd-Hulme said: “The forcing sheds mean you get a product that is so much tender and sweeter than you could get outside, because there’s no light.

“The sheds are heated and that makes the buds swell and swell and eventually they pop. The sheds put on the show for people.”

The tours can be booked at

And the festival which runs from February 23 to 25, will include cookery demonstrations, a Yorkshire market, street entertainment and family activities in Wakefield city centre.