It is an essential part of the annual Christmas dinner, if also one of Britons' least favourite vegetables. But the much-maligned sprout is under surprise attack this year on the eve of the festive season – from hordes of hungry wood pigeons.
Last year the British-grown sprout fell victim to floods and a sustained cold and wet summer, which wreaked havoc on crops and reduced planned volumes by at least a fifth.
This year growing conditions have been better, sprout quality is said to be very good and the yield is expected to be up 10-15%. But sprout farmers are facing an increasing threat to their livelihoods from starving wood pigeons.