The Fresh Produce Journal reports that sales of English apples have soared by 21% year on year after new plantings and investment. In the first half of the season English Apples & Pears (EAP) figures show 21 and 40% increases in production of English Gala and Braeburn respectively which helped push sales up 21% overall against the same period last year, There was also a significant increase in newer varieties Cameo, Kanzi, Jazz, Rubens, Junami and Zari – rather outlandish names for English apples.
In response to a query from Pippa Woods of the Family Farmers Association, Cumbrian hill farmer Hilary Wilson asked Andy Gilchrist, a retired agronomist who was involved in the apple industry for information, and his remarkable contribution will be posted next week. Hilary is a member of The South Lakeland Orchard Group. She writes that it has just acquired an allotment where they intend to grow new varieties of apple to trial them in their area for taste and disease resistance:
“We also graft old fashioned apples so they can be grown in gardens as well as new farm orchards. Some fruit are too soft to put through a supermarketing system but we can make small sized garden trees. For instance one common one, which was grown by market gardeners is Beauty of Bath. It is an early small red eating apple, good for children to pick from a small tree.
”At our last meeting we had tasted puree from a wide range of cooking apples. Hopefully we will be able to recommend alternatives to Bramley, which is actually one of the sourest apples. Scotch Bridget does well in this area. It is useable in the autumn and keeps till spring. I like one called Belle de Boskoop which is a distinctly ugly russetted apple, but which does not need a lot of sugar. Dummelows seedling is as hard as a cricket ball but cooks to a froth and lasts till at least March.
”I have taken some ‘Rivers early prolific’ plums to a greengrocer, to sell as he only had, what I considered to be, pathetic green Victorias. Mine were designated as grade 111 which is according to EU rules. They were good plums and properly ripe and undamaged except they had russet patches on the skins from being blown about in the wind. EU classifications cover every visual aspect but sadly not taste. However I was pleased my greengrocer said he had taken some home to try and found them extremely good! They were elevated to grade 11!!
”There is a great deal of enjoyment to be had in growing fruit at home, in experimenting in suitable varieties for an area. Orchards are pleasant places to spend time in but one does not need a lot of space if one grows cordons. Whilst it is not possible to overturn the supermarket system there are a lot of orchard and fruit groups like ours involved in talking to people at events and shows, advising individuals and schools, and generally spreading the word.”