Bumper apple harvest trend continues

Higher yields for Gala, Braeburns and new varieties reported as growers increase UK market share.

More details have emerged on just how successful the season has been for British apple growers.

English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow said: "So far this year we have harvested 33,100 tonnes of apples and pears, which is 17 per cent ahead of last season, so a really good increase."

He added: "Although Cox is down one per cent, Gala is up 21 per cent on last year, which was itself a record year, and Braeburns are up 40 per cent, with some picking still going on.

"We should continue to see good sales through to the beginning of next year. With new varieties such as Kanzi, Jazz and Rubens also 23 per cent up, that should mean better availability post-Christmas, so we can expect the season to continue through to May."

English growers are continuing to increase their market share, helped by an indifferent crop on the Continent, Barlow said. "Hail damage, particularly in northern Italy, led to a greater proportion going for processing. There were also fewer smaller apples, which the British market favours."

However, away from dessert apples, he added that Bramleys are down 18 per cent, "due partly to frost damage, but more to grubbing as growers have found returns inadequate".

Barlow said while there has also been a seven per cent rise in Conference pear crop this year, "we're not seeing any pear planting".

He added: "Orchards are ageing and growers don't see the £30,000/ha investment required to replant them as justified."

Damage discount - Frost-marked apples

Waitrose has begun selling frost-marked apples at a slightly reduced rate.

The supermarket's fruit buyer David Mitchell explained: "These apples are good value at less than 29p each, and buying them means supporting the British orchards that suffered during the harsh May frosts."

However, English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow pointed out: "Although some growers were badly affected by frost, the quantity damaged overall was less than feared".

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