The UK apple season started 7-10 days earlier than last year for most varieties. With some early Bramleys already picked for wholesale markets, more early varieties are expected to start next week. This is not unusual, as last season was late. That said, growers are seeing an acceleration in maturity due to the warm weather.
“It is clear that there is some effect of the drought and the heat. The earlyness of the season is mainly due to the timing of flowering in the spring, rather than the current sustained warm weather, although this is a factor in accelerating maturity. It varies from variety to variety and from orchard to orchard,” says James Simpson, Detector Manager at Adrian Scripps.
“The color seems to be developing well, better than last season. This is partly due to the higher light levels, but also due to the difference in nighttime and daytime temperatures, which together with the very high daytime temperatures meant a good difference between day and night, even though the nights have hot summers. In some cases, fruit size seems to have been limited by lack of water where irrigation is not available, or the type of soil does not retain groundwater as well. Sunburn on some varieties will reduce quality. Other varieties, such as Bramley in some places, have been affected by a long flowering period and therefore have a large variation in fruit size, which will affect the grading. Where size has not developed, growers thin out smaller fruits, which reduces yield.
Cox, although in decline, will be the first major volume harvested, followed by Gala. There are varieties such as Windsor which will be harvested in the last two weeks of August according to the site. Varieties such as Discovery are in rapid decline and are no longer important. Adrian Scripps will have the first early Gala volumes this year which will be harvested within the next 10 days, 3-4 weeks before the other Gala clones.
Adrian Scripps uses drip irrigation in almost all of his orchards. This is essential both for the establishment of young orchards and for dry spells like this.
“The contrast between the seasons is remarkable, at this time last year we couldn’t harvest blackcurrants because the fields were under water. This year, currants baked on the bush, and in some plantations we lost more than half of the fruits. Even the best irrigation and water availability are not as good as frequent rains, but are certainly very beneficial.
“Some retailers have understood very well the inflation that producers and suppliers have been facing, and while they may not have accepted the full extent of this situation, they have raised prices to reflect a reasonable share of inflation that we all face.We appreciate that other retailers find the market more competitive and, like producers, have a responsibility to consumers to maintain affordability, but increases in retail prices on supermarket shelves must be passed on to the producer.
Invest in the future
Adrian Scripps has invested over the years in state-of-the-art weather stations, irrigation systems and hail nets (which have a shading effect). These investments combine to reduce the impact of drought and high temperatures on orchards.
“To cope with unprecedented cost increases, particularly with labor cost increases of more than 15% this year alone, we have continued to invest in automation and robotics. significantly, we now operate a fleet of 22 harvesting platforms, increasing our harvesting rates and reducing our labor requirements.We also continue to invest in solar panels on the roofs of our buildings, thus reducing our consumption of electricity from the grid.Both are considerable financial investments.
For more information:
Adrian Scripps Ltd
Such. : +44 1892 832406