by Ruth Brooker
At this time of year, the UK’s apple trees should be groaning under the weight of their ripe fruit. But across the country, cider-makers, commercial apple growers and gardeners are lamenting the worst yield in decades.
In March, everything looked hopeful due to the substantial blossom appearing during the heat wave. But conditions deteriorated in April with orchards blighted by exceptionally cold weather, the heavy rains which lasted throughout May, and occasional hailstorms.
The lack of spring sunshine and persistent rain also deterred the bees from flying and performing their crucial role of pollinating the blossom.
Unfortunately this means that this autumn’s crops are down to a mere 20% of what would normally be produced. The nation’s favourite varieties – Cox’s Orange Pippin and Braeburn – have been significantly affected.
The UK is not alone in this problem; there is also a shortage of apples across Europe and America. Consequently, British importers are unable to top up the UK’s supplies with stocks from northern Europe. All these countries will be battling over excess stock from the warmer climates of Spain and Italy.
To aid the shortage, supermarkets are relaxing their strict quality standards to allow more of the slightly bruised apples to be sold and shoppers are being warned that the price of apples will now have to rise.
However, some British growers are suggesting that this barren season will have given the trees a break, ready for them to deliver a bumper crop next year.
If you would like to read more about the UK’s apple production, check out Adam Henson’s article in the October issue
of Countryfile Magazine