The sunniest June in more than six decades has delivered great season for British apples, says UK grower body British Apple & Pear Limited (BAPL) as today (2) marks the official start of the 2023-24 British apple season.
While it may not be a bumper crop, UK growers say that “the taste and flavour of the new season fruit is excellent”.
Harvesting is now in full swing, with an estimated 22 million apples being hand-picked every day during October, according to BAPL, which says new season fruit is already on supermarket shelves.
The sunniest June since 1957 (according to the Met Office) ensured young apples got what they needed to build up their natural sugars, which sets the stage for flavoursome fruit, explains BAPL executive chair Ali Capper.
“Apples do need sunshine hours to develop their full potential in terms of taste and flavour,” Fresh Produce Journal quotes Capper as saying. “So, in spite of the pretty rubbish July we’ve had, we are pretty confident the great weather in June will have secured a great tasting crop.”
“It’s a pretty average year for two reasons,” says Capper. “The extreme heat and drought of last year will have stressed the trees in some parts of the country. When that happens, you end up with an inconsistent crop the following year.
“Added to that, we had a very cold spring this year and that meant that pollination wasn’t as good as it could have been. Thank goodness for June! The crop we are going have will have an excellent flavour profile.”
“Growing and storage costs are still inflating year-on-year,” says Capper. “With a smaller predicted crop in 2023, this means the cost of production per kilo will increase this year.”
“Energy prices are still much higher than they were 18 months ago, and growers are locked into energy contracts. Apple and pear businesses are not getting the support on energy prices from government that many other business sectors are receiving.
“The cost pressures on growers are already causing contraction in the top fruit industry. Our members are reporting that Cox and Bramley orchards in particular are being grubbed. This is very concerning. We need supermarkets to pay a fair return to our growers to ensure the future sustainability of the industry.”