"English apricot industry is on its way", says Kent grower

Tesco has announced a nearly sevenfold increase in the volume of English-grown apricots it will sell this summer, due to investment in development and "near-perfect" growing conditions.

Nigel Bardsley - image: Tesco
Nigel Bardsley - image: Tesco

The first English apricots of the season went on sale this week, and initial estimates are that English growers will produce approximately 200 tonnes – up from 30 tonnes last year, and enough to supply Tesco for the whole of the summer.

Tesco stone fruit buyer Henry Maulik said: "Thanks to the great weather, the quality of English apricots this summer is very good - juicy and rich but firm with a nice blush.

He added: "We believe that one day they could even be as renowned as British strawberries, cherries, apples and pears."

The retailer started working with Kent stone-fruit grower Nigel Bardsley five years ago on a project to develop commercial-scale apricot production, working with breeders and agronomists on a production plan for eight hectares of orange-fleshed, French-type apricots.

Bardsley said: "We've had near-perfect growing conditions so far this year with a cold winter to help let the trees rest, a mild spring to allow for good pollination, and a warm, dry summer so far to boost growth.

"This combined with a unique large day/night temperature differentiation, has led to fantastic red blushed and incredibly sweet apricots."

His farm's production has risen from around 15 tonnes during its first commercial harvest last year, to up to 120 tonnes this season. "The English apricot industry is well and truly on its way," he added.

Last year has seen a 33 per cent rise in apricot sales over the previous year, according to data from retail analyst Kantar.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

How will reduced apple and pear harvests hit the industry?

How will reduced apple and pear harvests hit the industry?

This spring, many top-fruit growers in the UK and across Europe were dismayed to discover that swathes of their orchards had been hit by frost.

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

Upcoming reforms to water abstraction licensing will for the first time cap the amount of water that fruit growers can take for trickle irrigation.

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

At a debate during last week's Fruit Focus trade show in Kent, senior industry figures painted a bleak picture of an increasingly difficult seasonal labour market that is already impacting on investment.