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Yorkshire forced rhubarb: Made in the dark

Yorkshire forced rhubarb is known for its delicate flavour and striking crimson stalks, but it is a fragile crop with few growers left.

Unlike outdoor varieties, forced roots are grown in fields for two years, where they store energy and are moved into forcing sheds after November frosts.

They are then grown in complete darkness and harvested by candlelight, to avoid photosynthesis turning them green and tough, explains fourth generation farmer Janet Oldroyd Hume.

She says last year's mild winter saw her crop in Rothwell, West Yorks drop by 25%, but she is optimistic that output will return to normal.

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Photography and slideshow production by Hannah Briggs. Archive images courtesy of Wakefield Council and Janet Oldroyd Hume at E. Oldroyd and Sons. Music by All Sorts.

See also: BBC Food forced rhubarb recipes

West Yorkshire's rhubarb production hampered by mild weather

James Wong argues that rhubarb is the only uniquely British indigenous vegetable

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