Sprout growers are facing an increasing and unexpected threat to their livelihoods from hungry wood pigeons.
Their appetite for Christmas sprouts has become so keen that growers calculate the annual cost to them could run into millions of pounds.
Some seasonal scarecrows – dressed in Santa outfits – are being used to help one of the largest British supplier of sprouts, TH Clements, based near Boston in Lincolnshire.
Many growers have had to buy netting to safeguard their crops.
The nets are put up when the crop is small but the problem is they need to come off in December when the bulk of the UK’s sprouts are ready to be picked for the festive season. This is when wood pigeons and other pigeons take their opportunity.