Fruit and veg growers welcome fine April weather

The prolonged spell of dry, sunny weather over most of the UK this month has been generally welcomed by fresh produce growers and suppliers.

Pear blossom - Image: Dean Morley
Pear blossom - Image: Dean Morley

The British tomato season has arrived early, with Waitrose already stocking Jack Hawkins, Red Choice and Baby Plum from UK glasshouses. Its vegetable buyer Peter Cooke said: "Our customers can choose from a wide variety of home grown tomatoes and in bigger quantities than this time last year."

Although soft fruit grown under glass benefited from high winter light levels, "It won't be an early season for field strawberries like last year, but closer to average, starting at the beginning of May," Herefordshire soft fruit grower Anthony Snell said. "Thanks to the spell of fine weather the crops are looking good."

On top fruit, English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow said: "We have had more cold temperatures this year than last, which was welcome, but the recent fine spell has been brilliant as it has brought forward flowering and got pollinating insects active. So prospects for fruit set in pears in particular are good, and I expect reasonable flowering and pollination in apples too.

"It means we should have a relatively early season come what may. Although it's been dry, there has been no shortage of soil moisture. It's all very promising at this stage."

But the dry weather has caused some problems for field vegetable growers, British Growers chief executive Jack Ward said. "We could have done with a bit of rain. Some crops have had to be re-drilled."

Wetter and more unsettled weather is forecast for next week.

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