Bumper crop of English apricots on way as production grows six fold
8 Jul 2015
England’s fledgling apricot production is set to soar six fold with a bumper crop this summer, thanks to near perfect growing conditions. The first English apricots of the season went on sale on Monday and growers are reporting great quality fruit.
England’s fledgling apricot production is set to soar six fold with a bumper crop this summer, thanks to near perfect growing conditions.
The first English apricots of the season went on sale on Monday and growers are reporting great quality fruit.
And early estimates are that English growers will produce approximately 200 tonnes – enough to supply Tesco for the whole of the summer.
It’s a massive increase on the 30 tonnes that were grown in England last year when the first English apricot crop became available.
And it is likely to encourage other stone fruit growers who until now have been hesitant to invest in apricot production.
The arrival of the English variety should be heralded as good news by British shoppers who in the last year bought 33 per cent more apricots than the previous year, according to latest data from retail analysts Kantar.
Tesco stone fruit buyer Henry Maulik said: “Thanks to the great weather the quality of English apricots this summer is very good. The apricots we’ve tested this week are juicy and rich but firm with a nice blush.
“Last year was the first time that growers produced a sufficient quantity of English apricots and the feedback from shoppers on the quality was fantastic.
“We’re very proud of the quality of these English apricots and believe that one day they could even be as renowned as British strawberries, cherries, apples and pears.”
Until a few years ago it was very hard to grow apricots on a commercial basis in the UK because of the climate and careful breeding has made this possible.
Tesco’s English apricots are produced by one of the UK’s largest stone fruit growers, Nigel Bardsley, whose farm is based near Staplehurst, in Kent.
Tesco started working on the project with Nigel five years ago with a view to launching major scale English apricot production.
Nigel, a Tesco supplier for more than 25 years, enlisted a team of experts comprising breeders, agronomists and growers to create a production plan which culminated in the planting of eight hectares of orange fleshed, French type apricots.
After visiting French growers a few years ago Nigel planted 5000 apricot trees across eight hectares of land and the first commercial quantities were produced last year.
Nigel said: “We’ve had near perfect growing conditions so far this year with a cold winter to help let the trees rest; a mild spring to allow for good pollination and a warm, dry summer so far to boost growth. This combined with a unique large day/night temperature differentiation, has led to fantastic red blushed and incredibly sweet apricots.
“Last year was the first time that we had a commercial quantity and I produced around 15 tonnes.
This year weather permitting we anticipate producing up to 120 tonnes which means that the English apricot industry is well and truly on its way.”
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