Summer weather produces quality fruit

This season's top fruit tonnages will be at least 10 per cent lower than first predicted -- but the good quality of the fruit will make up for this loss.

Managing director James Simpson of Kent-based producer Adrian Scripps told Grower that volumes for the UK crop are not quite what growers were expecting, mainly because fruit size is small.

Yet this is unlikely to have a big impact on returns, as the fruit quality is good.

Simpson said: "Most crops will pick somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent under what growers had anticipated when they did their original estimate.

"Overall we are anticipating Cox, for example, to be anything up to 15 per cent down on our original estimate of 39,000 tonnes.

"Fortunately, the biggest issue for returns is the quality of the fruit rather than the quantity.

"Significant costs are related to the tonnage, so the more fruit that is grown the more the costs increase. But if the growers grow a quality crop, it's much more profitable. And it's a good-quality crop this year.

"In particular, we have good-tasting Conference pears, Gala and Kanzi this year."

He added: "We have had no rain to speak of through the bulk of the growing areas in July, August and September. The long hours of sunlight and warm temperatures have meant better sugars."

Business development manager Sarah Calcutt of Norman Collett - which markets fruit for the producer organisation Mid-Kent Growers - told Grower that this high quality means that there will be a higher percentage of Class 1 fruit this year than there has been in previous years. The Cox crop, for example, is expected to have 97 per cent Class 1 fruit.

Calcutt said: "We have not had that much rain, so it's been a very difficult season to gauge.

"Some things are down. But we have 20 per cent more Conference pears than last year."

Simpson told Grower that — although fruit size is smaller in many crops - Gala tonnage will be closer to growers' original estimate, as size compensated for lower fruit numbers.

"So Gala will be marginally up on 2008, but down on what we had anticipated for 2009."

He added: "We have also had the right sort of conditions to suggest that storage potential for some varieties should be good."


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