This year’s apple crop in England could be down as much as 80 per cent on some farms due to an Arctic blast of cold air which has damaged trees.
English wine growers are also complaining that hard frosts at night have wiped out at least half of this year’s grape harvest.
Alison Capper, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union horticulture board, said her own apple harvest could drop 70 to 80 percent due to the cold snap.
“There’s damage to both top and stone fruit, which includes apples, pears, plums and cherries,” she said. “But it’s difficult to know what this means until we see the fruit sets, which is the point when it becomes clear how much fruit has stayed on the trees. However, I think there is enough evidence there will be less English fruit this year.”
Apple growers in Northern Ireland, however, say they have escaped the harsh weather and are reporting good fruit sets this year. They also say farms have stocks of last year’s apple crop remaining in their sheds due to a fall in demand.
Helen Troughton, owner of the Armagh Cider Company near Portadown in NI said: “Thankfully we in Northern Ireland escaped the really cold spell which has taken its toll on English fruit growers. On our own farm we have a good fruit set this year and everything is looking well as the apples are starting to grow. We have been lucky enough to escape the frosts that have been witnessed in England.”
Helen added: “Demand for locally grown apples and apple produce has dropped recently. Northern Ireland growers have plenty of apples in their stores from last year’s harvest. With this year’s crop looking very healthy so far, and with plenty of apples still in local stores we will have enough supply to make up any shortfall over in England or elsewhere.”
By Chris McCullough
Image of Helen Troughton