Today sees the start of the English apple season with the most popular varieties starting to appear in shops across the country.
Autumn is ushered in with the apple harvest and this year’s crop is ‘outstanding’ thanks to the early spring and excellent summer weather.
This year’s crop is available 3 to 4 weeks ahead of last year with English Worcester, Delbarestivale, Early Windsor and new ‘Zari’ currently in the shops, followed by traditional favourite Cox and then Gala in the miggle of the month. Later in September and October comes Egremont Russet followed by Braeburn and the newer varieties from December including Reubens, Jazz, Kanzi and Cameo.
Adrian Barlow, Chief Executive of English Apples & Pears Ltd which represents apple growers throughout the UK – said “2014’s apple crop is outstanding due to the good levels of juice, great ‘crunch’ and wonderful taste. The weather has been the critical factor with the early spring, warm temperatures, an outstanding amount of sunshine and adequate rainfall giving us excellent conditions for the apples to grow and ripen. The cold August nights have caused the apples to develop wonderfully intense colour. Shoppers will be in for a real treat this year with a range of outstanding English apples to suit different taste preferences and by looking for the ‘Union Jack’ label they can make certain they really are buying English.”
This year’s crop continues the revival of the English apple industry. The larger crop of 166,000 tonnes means that shoppers will have a huge choice of flavours to suit every palate. More ‘modern’ varieties are now overtaking traditional tastes as growers produce varieties that match shoppers’ preferences for sweeter flavours, firm textures and high levels of juice such as those found in English grown ‘Gala’.
Gala, with its sweet taste and attractive red ‘striped’ skin, now accounts for about one in four of all apples bought in the UK and this year’s record English crop reflects its popularity. Since 2012 when it first outsold Cox in the UK, it has demonstrated the importance of keeping up with changing tastes and and growing the varieties preferred by consumers.
The Pipettes2014’s crop of English grown Braeburn is also at a record level and is nearly 20% higher than in 2013. Together Braeburn with the ‘later’ varieties mentioned above – Rubens, Jazz, Kanzi, Cameo and Zari, account for 25% of the total volume of apples now grown in the UK.