Apple crop much larger than 2012 but running late

English Apples & Pears figures suggest that this year's apple harvest is significantly larger than 2012 but it still trails 2011.

This year's UK apple crop will be significantly larger than last year's but will still trail the bumper year of 2011, English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow has said.

But 2013 may be remembered above all for its extreme lateness.

"We are about two-and- a-half weeks behind last year, but then that was two-and-half weeks behind the year before," Barlow told Grower.

"Cox and Gala won't be available until the end of September, or more likely the start of October. There could still be some recovery over the next few weeks - or the weather could be grotty."

As well as setting the season back, the prolonged cold spring meant sparse pollination spread over a longer period, and fruit cells were then slow to develop, he explained.

"So we knew that size would be limited - it will be average at best - and there was a lot of 'June drop'," he said.

Weather marking will again be an issue, he added: "We hope that the multiples will reduce their specs here as they did last season."

On the bright side, Barlow said: "Thanks to the subsequent sun, we should have good sugar levels, while high water tables have meant plenty of juice."

The picture is broadly similar on the Continent, where despite a strong recovery on last year's volumes, "a greater proportion will be fit only for processing". This means there will be similar quantities for fresh as there were last year, "and so relative scarcity, because there's no carry-over from last season, and no southern hemisphere overhang, pointing to a strong start to the market".

Apple harvest Big rise for all varieties

This season's Gala harvest "may well be a record", up 14 per cent on last year and edging towards 40,000 tonnes, according to Adrian Barlow. Cox, at around 29,000 tonnes, is likely to be 21 per cent up, and Braeburn, after a poor 2012, will be up more than 70 per cent to more than 20,000 tonnes.

New varieties are also reaching significant volumes, with a 65 per cent rise taking them past 13,000 tonnes, and Bramleys are expected to show a "very welcome" improvement of 30 per cent to 29,000 tonnes, he said.

But on pears, Conference "has gone into reverse", down 6 per cent to below 20,000 tonnes, he said. "Pears, of course, flower earlier, and this year there was still snow around then."

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