With cucumbers in short supply, their official wholesale price jumped to NIS 9 per kilo yesterday - a 150% increase since Thursday, when the price was NIS 3.60.

Retail cucumber prices may not jump as much, however, but some predict consumers may go as high as NIS 12 per kilo or even higher.

Yesterday the country's two major supermarket chains, Super-Sol and Mega, were selling cucumbers via their websites at NIS 7 per kilogram. At Tel Aviv's Carmel Market they could be had for NIS 12.90, while at a branch of the Rami Levi chain in Ramat Gan, they were going for as little as NIS 3 a kilo.

Due to the shortage of a steady supply of farm laborers to harvest the crop, and the reluctance of the government to increase the number of visas granted to foreign agricultural workers, farmers have cut back on their planting of cucumbers, a labor-intensive crop, by 30%, said Meir Yifrah, secretary general of the Vegetable Growers Association.

But, he said, he doesn't expect the retail price of cucumbers to actually reflect the full increase in the published wholesale price.

In general, the retail price of vegetables has been particularly high in recent weeks. This is the end of the summer growing season and autumn produce has not yet filled the void..

Rami Levi, whose supermarket chain bears his name, called the new wholesale cucumber price "crazy" and said he would order little of the product under the current circumstances.

Meir Tzur, who heads the moshav collective farm movement, said the government would bear the responsibility if more foreign farm laborers are not allowed in, and as a result Israeli consumers eat Jordanian cucumbers that are irrigated with sewer water.