Promising signs point to a successful season for apples

The final stages of the current apple season, and prospects for the next one, are showing promising signs, according to English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow.

"We have virtually finished the English dessert apple season, a little later this year due to the slow, late start. But there are still some Bramley's and Conference pears."

On Bramley's, he added: "We previously urged retailers to reduce shelf space when the harvest was poor. Though we're recovering that space now, it's difficult to put that into reverse. But we did a lot of work with social media early in the year that gave us a very good April - it's been paying dividends and we hope to see that continuing."

As to the current season, he said: "A disappointing lack of cold winter weather meant trees didn't shut down and many had their feet in water for extended periods.

"A combination of damage to rootlets and hot, dry weather will put them under a lot of stress, though it's impossible to assess the extent of the damage at this stage." Conditions have also led to "above average incidence of fungal disease at the moment", he added.

"But we had early blossom and a lot of it, good pollination and fruit set, and apart from one or two low-lying areas, no frost damage."

Since then the loss of fruitlets has been above average - "a reflection of how much fruit the trees can support, so in a way that's beneficial as less fruit pruning is required".

He added: "The weather over the next few months is critical. Prospects are for a good but not massive crop, boosted by new orchards coming on stream and at least three weeks earlier than last year, which bodes well for key sales in September."

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