The Journals give a weekly update on events in our English apple orchards, using pictures and video clips to follow seasonal activities and giving the consumer a level of detail not available from any other source.
All aspects of growing, harvesting, storage, grading, packing and marketing are included enabling consumers to understand the challenges English growers face in supplying our sophisticated market place.
While there is enthusiastic support for older traditional varieties from dedicated interest groups and supportive media, the English Apple Man will endeavour to explain why support for the mainstream commercial production of English apples is vital to a sustainable apple industry in this country, delivering recognised benefits to the health of our consumers while maintaining our diverse and beautiful countryside.
Varieties grown commercially are relatively few in number, when matched against the 2300 varieties on display at The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent and while there is an increasing desire by all parties to retain and where possible reintroduce the best of our heritage varieties, the sustainability of our apple acreage depends on no more than a dozen varieties.
However, that does not mean we should dismiss all the efforts of growers determined to maintain our many heritage varieties, we must support all our producers, whether they be small in acreage, selling directly to the consumer, or large scale operations growing a thousand acres or more and totally dependent on supplying our supermarkets.
The History of The English Apple Man is a story of a lifetime spent in the industry, as a boy straight out of school, then as a young man developing all the practical knowledge of growing and later taking on the management of the family fruit farm, then changing course to join the major supplier of English Apples in a technical role and finally becoming Technical Director with a responsibility for product and environmental safety, product quality, and technical innovation.
Now retired, The English Apple Man will bring his unique experience of the English apple industry to all who visit the English Apple Man website.
The 2018 National Fruit Show takes place at the Kent Showground, Detling, Maidstone on Wednesday 24th & Thursday 25th October - this year is the 85th Anniversary of the Marden Fruit Show Society and the first show held in Marden in 1933 at Walton Hall, Pattenden Lane, owned by Tom Walton who was a fruit salesman.
Marden was the birthplace of what is now known as the National Fruit Show.
Click on The Marden Fruit Show Society the history of this unique society
This is the time of the year when fruit maturity (ripening) sets off on an exponential curve!
From the first Discovery it is only a matter of time before a succession of varieties come on line!
Below: Rosette Discovery grown by AC Goatham
Visit Kent On-Line to view AC Goatham & Son start to the new season.
This week was the 10th Anniversary of The English Apple Man website.
The first English Apple Man Journal went on-line on 14th August 2009
This week The English Apple Man joined a small group of growers on a two day visit to Belgium and Holland to look at the variety Magic Star®
The appeal of Magic Star is it's ability to store well and deliver great flavour and texture even after one year in store. For British apple growers the possibility of supplying Magic Star after the traditional Gala and Braeburn extending the 'home grown' season beyond the traditional April/May through June & July until the new season starts again in August/September.
To date several Avalon growers have planted Magic Star and plans are in place to add more over the next few years. The oldest are now in the 4th leaf and modest volumes have ben marketed in Tesco stores. Expect a rapid increase in volume over the next few years.
After an early start, we departed Folkstone on the 8.40am 'shuttle' arriving at our first visit in Belgium by late morning.
While the last of 2018 home grown apples are still available (Royal Gala) the 2019 season is very close!
The Discovery on my 'family apple tree' are nearly ready to eat, so I expect early sites to be in advance of mine.
Picking for the wholesale market on an early site in Kent started yesterday and will no doubt be followed by others next week.
On the 11th July, The English Apple Man ventured an hour's drive to Plumpton College near Lewes in East Sussex where the very first Viti-Culture Event took place.
Viti-Culture is the result of not just a vision, hard work and good planning but also teamwork. Organisers Grape-Vine Events, together with media partner Vineyard Magazine have created a formidable team that has put together a show with all the answers. The only question is why no-one thought of it before! To our knowledge there is no other event in the UK that focuses purely on viticulture while providing a show-case event where growers can access advice, supplies, services and have networking together in one place!
This Wednesday The English Apple Man visited Fruit Focus at NIAB/EMR
Attracting an increasing number of visitors year on year, Fruit Focus brings together more than 2000 growers and industry professionals. Over 130 leading suppliers exhibit at Fruit Focus. It showcases all aspects of agronomy, machinery and equipment, business information, pre- and post-harvest technology, and marketing.
Fruit Focus provides a unique opportunity to update on the latest technologies and industry developments, exchange views and network with fellow producers. As well as soft and orchard fruit, vines also feature at Fruit Focus.
We are now well into the British Cherry season and can look forward to enjoying the finest cherries we will get to eat at any time during the Year for another month 'or so'
East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) visit Norton Farm Cherries on Tuesday 9th July,
Below: Oh so tasty 'Home Grown Cherries'
The opportunity to visit growers at this time of the year is always an enjoyable experience.
On Tuesday 2nd July BIFGA held their 31st AGM at Castlewood Farm at Teynham in East Kent.
Protecting our Environment is a global issue, but how we manage the dangers and defy the 'point of no return' is the subject of many passionate arguments.
Carbon neutral by 2050?
Not nearly soon enough say many; 'particularly young activists' but how do we go about arresting the journey to environmental oblivion?
The real problem is the success of 'homo sapiens' - the exponential rise in global population is surely the single most influence on 'where we are today'
Simply: there are too many people on this planet!
Biddenden Vineyard was the first commercial vineyard in Kent in 1969.
Originally home to a 40 acre apple orchard, the Barnes family started to consider diversifying the farm in the late 1960s as apple prices began to decline. After listening to a feature on the BBC's Woman's Hour programme about English vineyards being replanted, Mrs. Barnes was inspired to turn to viticulture.
Soft fruit development has changed dramatically over the years; no longer grown in the soil, modern strawberry, raspberry & blackberry production relies on 'sustainable' coir (Coconut fibre) as a medium in which the plants grow.
Strawberries are either grown in coir growbags or on some cases pots. Raspberries and Blackberries are increasingly grown in pots.
The use of pots & substrate allows flexibility to production processes enabling establishment of blackberries/raspberries in a holding area before placement in tunnels for growing & harvesting. The ability to remove and replace with new pots/plants maximises the production modules (tunnels).
This week the East Kent Fruit Society held their annual Soft Fruit Walk at Clockhouse Farm at Coxheath on the outskirts of Maidstone in Kent.
This summer we are having a week in The Cotswolds in a Holiday Cottage with our Working Cocker Spaniel - Poppy instead of the annual trip to Malta.
My wife just fancied a quiet week with Poppy relaxing and without the harassment of airports, hiring cars etc in what has become one of the most highly populated countries in Europe.
Regular readers of the English Apple Man will be aware of my interest in community orchards; specifically following the Capel Diamond Jubilee Community Orchard from it's planting in 2012 until today.
'Friends of Grosvenor & Hilbert' visited the Capel orchard in the Autumn of 2013 as part of a learning curve before embarking on the 'Grosvenor & Hilbert' community orchard.
Royal Gala is our number one variety; 27% of all apples sold in British Supermarkets are Gala, either grown in GB or imported, we now grow in excess of 60,000 tonnes of home grown Gala.
What if we could extend our season into the summer months previously supplied by imported Gala?
As we assess the potential fruit set for the 2019/20 season, our Supermarkets still have good displays of apples; Braeburn, Gala, and smaller volumes of Jazz, Crimson Crisp and Envy; with of course our celebrated, Bramley culinary apple. Plus home grown Conference pears.
The English Apple Man has been busy with visits to Living Land at The Kent Event Centre and BIFGA's Annual Spring Farm Walk.
Following last week's walk around Bardsley Farms Blue House Farm at Marden where the apple blossom was at its peak, The English Apple Man joined fellow members of East Kent Fruit Society for a blossom walk at Simon Mount's New Barn Farm at East Stourmouth near Canterbury in East Kent
As blossom burst forth over Easter, with blooms opening in front of the eyes, bees and other pollinating insects were working hard on every tree.
On Wednesday, The Marden Fruit Show Society held their AGM at the very new Marden Hockey Club.
A very special event took place after the AGM when MFS President the Right Hon. Michael Jack presented a stalwart of our top fruit industry Roger Worraker with The Presidents Award.
Roger Worraker's story is the latest subject of The English Apple Man's People Profiles which went live on line on Wednesday 24th April. Click on Roger Worraker - People Profile for a link to Roger's story.
It's Easter and the sun is shining, temperatures are circa 20-25 centigrade and the blossom advances by the hour: the Bees are loving it and today observed hard at work collecting nectar while pollinating the apple blossom they alighted upon!
As we approach mid-April, The English Apple Man takes a look at what home grown apples and pears are still available to consumers.
As we enter April, apart from April Fools Day the apple & pear fruit bud development is 'poised' to move from Green Cluster/Early Pink Bud (apples) and White Bud )pears) to blossom as soon as the weather returns to 15-20 Celsius.
Below: Green Cluster and early Pink Bud on apples.
This week The English Apple Man looks at 'what's new?
The first commercial robot apple picker in operation.
Promotion for an award winning Production Manager.
Agrovista 'Sponsors' report on Under 40's in Chile.
With Brexit spiralling into a complete mess, it is difficult for those of us who do not fully understand the complexities of a soft Brexit (whatever that means) and a hard Brexit (feared by many - but not by those desperate to leap into the apparent unknown,) I like many get more confused each day (no sorry, each hour of each day).
"Up a Gum Tree" The phrase originated as 'like a possum up a gum tree' and interpretations of this account for the variety of meaning. The allusion is to possums escaping up trees after being chased by hounds.
The English Apple Man joined members of the Capel Parish last Saturday, as they set about pruning their Community orchard, under the guidance of Roger Worraker.
Do you ever wonder about the mysteries of life?
Virus's and Bacteria are embedded in the fabric of life.
Viruses are the smallest and simplest life form known.
The biggest difference between viruses and bacteria is that viruses must have a living host!
Antibiotics cannot kill viruses, but can kill most bacteria.
Bacterial Canker the scourge of many 'tree fruit' trees may be challenged by the use of 'phages'
Bacteriophage, phage(noun) a virus that is parasitic (reproduces itself) in bacteria. "phage uses the bacterium's machinery and energy to produce more phage until the bacterium is destroyed and phage is released to invade surrounding bacteria".
March is here; its the first day of Spring!
This week's Journal features Haygrove Evolution a wine & cider business: John Breach honoured by The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and news of the Under 40's return from their visit to Chile.
Haygrove Evolution is; as the name suggests, an evolving business: Haygrove Evolution was established in 2015.
Combining operations from Vine & Wine, Once Upon A Tree and integrating with local business Haygrove Ltd, Haygrove Evolution is producing Wine & Cider under the Sixteen Ridges and Once Upon A Tree Brands and offering contract processing for other growers.
Rural Policing: At the 31st BIFGA Technical Day held at Dale Hill Golf Club on 30th January 2019, one of the presentations was made by Sergeant Darren Walshaw & PC Marc Pennicott from the Kent Police - Rural Liaison Team (RLT). The operational area is divided into three: North Division - East Division and West Division.
While there are many important areas of Policing carried out by the Rural Liaison Team, this week's Journal will cover just a few in depth.
At the recent AGROVISTA Technical Seminar, the opening presentation 'Maximising Fruit Set and Quality' delivered by Leon Jahae reviewed the broad spectrum of essential elements involved in delivering quality apples.
This week The English Apple Man attended two Technical Conferences: On Tuesday the AGROVISTA Technical day and on Wednesday the BIFGA Technical Day.
On Tuesday, The English Apple Man joined fellow members of the East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) for the society AGM, Orchard Competition Prizegiving and Dinner.
This week The English Apple Man highlights an Irish Apple grower in Tipperary + an update on harvest worker availability.
With Brexit dominating our news, our fruit growers continue to worry about where the harvest workers will come from for 2019 and beyond.
As we settle into 2019, what will our New Year's Resolutions be and will we manage to observe any across 2019?
The debacle of Brexit will no doubt continue to dominate the media!
IF- we leave the EU without a deal, what are the prospects for our fruit-growers?
Another year passes and it will soon by 2019!
Just four more 'sleeps' to Christmas Day!!!!!!!!!!
As we approach the last full week of trading before the Christmas week begins, The English Apple Man has taken a 'whistle stop tour' of UK Supermarkets to see how many different varieties are on display in each of the UK retailers.
Once December arrives, Christmas is upon us before we know it!
30 years ago in early December when The English Apple Man was still growing apples, we would be busy packing apples for Sainsburys and Tesco; in the packhouse Christmas music adding to the festive atmosphere. The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl singing "Fairytale of New York" released in 1987 was one of our all time favourites!
Now apple packing is a much more mechanised affair with computer aided quality selection and robotic stacking of packed crates commonplace. Much more efficient, but not as much fun!
Last week the Journal centred on machinery and in particular picking rigs and platforms.
Touring the Interpoma Trade Show last week, The English Apple Man was keen to identify new 'innovations' for our apple industry.
After arriving back in 'Blighty' after two weeks in Malta on Monday, The English Apple Man set off on Wednesday for The Interpoma Trade Show in Bolzano in the South Tyrol with a group of grower friends organised by FAST.
As our holiday in Malta nears it's end, The EAM reflects on more elements of The National Fruit Show.
The English Apple Man is now in Malta enjoying a break with Mrs Apple Man and our daughter.
This week the Marden Fruit Show Society (MFSS) held the 85th Anniversary National Fruit Show at The Kent Event Centre at Detling.
The Marden Fruit Show Society (MFSS) is a Registered Charity run by a voluntary committee who represent many different facets of the fruit industry. The aim of the Society is to promote the better growing, grading and marketing of fruit.
The Society organises the National Fruit Show, which acts as a meeting place for the industry. The centrepiece of the show, held each October, is the largest competitive display of commercially grown top and soft fruit staged in the UK.
In this week's Journal the emphasis is on the celebratory mood and in particular J.R. Breach celebrating their 50th Anniversary of attending the National Fruit Show. Over the next two weeks, I will report on the show more comprehensively and list all the trophy winners and cover many of the outstanding 'trade stands' which are integral to the success of this the 85th anniversary show.
What will the influence be on apple growing if our climate gets warmer?
In last week's English Apple Man Journal the English Apples and Pears 2018 Season Launch of 'Great British Apples' highlighted the exceptional taste of home grown apples after the summer sun raised sugar levels above the average.
This week English Apples & Pears launched the 2018 season with a promotional event in London.
Great British Apples!!!!!!!!
As September draws to a close, what does October offer?
This weekend is The Malvern Autumn Show and my friends Nick Dunn and his Daughter Stephanie will be showing their products from FP Matthews and displaying 350 different fruits.
During October there will be many outstanding opportunities to visit Festivals celebrating our wonderful apples & pears.
As we enjoy a week in Wiltshire, this week's Journal will be a bit of a mixed bag!
My wife and I + our dog, are currently enjoying a break in Wiltshire, looking after my brother & sister in law's home & dog while they spend a week on a yacht sailing up the coast of Croatia!
Uk apple growers grow many delicious apples, but Gala is the number one in volume sales!
As we move from August into September the apple picking season really takes off!
It's a while since The EAM visited Jeremy Lindsell's Braisworth Orchards in Suffolk but my 3 hour drive from the Sussex coast was well worth it!
The 2018 apple season is underway; albeit with limited supplies of early apples like Discovery. UK Plums are in the early stages of the season with Opal the first to be available on Supermarket shelves.
This week The English Apple Man has been in East Anglia visiting three fruit growers with quite different approaches to growing and marketing. Having arrived back home today at 4.15pm, this week's Journal will reflect on some of the areas of interest The EAM identified at the rcent Fruit Focus 2018.
It's that time of the year when orchard competitions add interest to the summer as a precursor to the new season which is now only weeks away.
On Tuesday The English Apple Man joined circa 100 attendees at Fruit Science Live held at Brogdale Farm, sponsored by ICL with trial work carried out by FAST Technical personnel.
On Wednesday after an early start, The English Apple Man spent the day at Fruit Focus an annual event highlighting the latest developments in fruit and viticulture.
As we move closer to August, the weather forecast does not promise any general rain, some sporadic thunderstorms, many of which will only produce flash flooding and fail to soak the soil in gardens and production areas. Today, here on the Sussex Coast a welcome few hours of 'gentle drizzle' cooled
The hot weather has influenced the ripening of soft fruit and cherries, potentially shortening the harvesting period of each variety. Lack of rain has made Cherry harvesting easier with no fears of splitting caused by rain, however the high temperatures may be responsible for a reduced crop.
This season is proving an uncertain one as far as crop forecasting goes, but it does seem to be a little clearer. In the Journal for 29th June I wrote: "After the frosts in 2017 which caused sporadic damage across the country, this season shows 'knock on' effects. Where the crop was light in 2017 'generally' a good crop predicted this season, and where heavy crops were prevalent in 2017, crop predictions are not quite as good.
However, the 'run off' (natural thinning caused by the tree adjusting to 'as yet' unknown influences - extreme cold and/or extreme heat at critical stages of flower development have been suggested) has been general. Growers pointed out some of the anomalies - Gala (naturally a good cropper) has been observed to have set 2-3 apples per bunch on the upper branches, while 1-2 on the lower branches.
The general consensus appears to be: "we are probably looking at a good crop this year, but NOT a bumper crop"
On Tuesday EKFS members gathered at Hempstead Farm for the annual Stone Fruit walk.
Hempstead Farm is situated on the site chosen by Henry VIII's Fruiterer, Richard Harris to grow the strawberries, cherries and other fruits loved by King Henry V111. At the heart of what is now recognised as The Garden of England.
Temperatures this week have been as good as Mediterranean countries; in fact better than Brazil's Rio de Janeiro!
On Thursday my wife and I drove to my brother's home in Wiltshire. On Friday I was up early and on the road to Herefordshire joining my Under 40's friends as they held an 'interim' meeting before next year's U40 Conference.
On Tuesday evening East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) members enjoyed a soft fruit visit to John Myatt at Mockbeggar Farm on the Isle of Grain.
On Thursday we drove from East Sussex to Wiltshire; staying overnight before a two hour drive into Herefordshire to meet up with my young Under 40's friends on Friday morning.
APOLOGIES to my Early morning readers, but after a very busy day, I left the Journal unfinished last night (it's now Saturday morning)
Second APOLOGIES: I hurriedly placed Journal on line (I thought) on Saturday afternoon before driving to Canterbury for a Golden Wedding celebration, only to realise on our return this Sunday afternoon, that I had NOT ticked the 'Live box' - it is now 3.45pm on Sunday 17th June!
There is little point in simply trying to be the best. Our passion comes from being the only people who can do what we do. It makes us stronger. We use it to judge absolutely everything. These are the words of Frazer Thompson CEO Chapel Down
Last week, The English Apple Man reviewed the rapidly changing structure of global food marketing. This week a look at a very successful farm shop enterprise which has grown from modest beginnings into a retailer of considerable renown.
Twenty years ago my wife and I discovered Macknade Farm Shop, remembering our first impression as we entered a large building which from the outside did not suggest anything special: " AMAZING - we could not initially comprehend the scale of the comprehensive display of 'fine foods' - with so much to choose from my debit card took a hammering!
After the stunning Early May Bank Holiday with record temperatures on the Monday, we approach our second bank Holiday in May with the prospect of higher than average temperatures, but the strong possibility of random showers and some thunderstorms and scarily, the mention of HAIL which sets all fruit growers nerves jangling!
While The English Apple Man now lives in East Sussex, for the first 65 years, my home and working life was exclusively in Kent.
Bank Holiday Monday was a record with temperatures reaching 27 Centigrade....
In the space of two weeks, the long cold spring erupted into a stunning display of blossom on plums, pears, cherries and apples.........and ornamentals of many species...........this week its been a mixed bag, with Monday atrociously wet and very cold.......but the week is ending warmer with prospects for the Bank Holiday weekend, warm and sunny...in fact all of next week promised the same............today Friday 4th May, many of the mainstream apple varieties are in full bloom or just past it.........
The bitter cold on Monday will not help flowers which have pollinated achieve fertilization, but those releasing pollen later this week will have excellent warm conditions for pollen tube growth essential for fertilization.......
After a quiet couple of weeks when fruit buds sat still, last week's well above average temperatures after the prolonged cold weather has initiated an 'explosion' of blossom on all fruit trees...
The English Apple Man had a busy few days: On Tuesday, attending the Food & Drink Conference organised by Produced in Kent at the University of Kent. Wednesday and off to Pluckley for the BIFGA Spring Walk and Thursday at the Marden Fruit Show (MFS) AGM held at Bradbourne House East Malling. In the afternoon, after the AGM and lunch, we visited the AGRI Trial plot with AGRI Agronomist Colin Bird and his assistant Francesca Salinari.
In the space of seven days, apple fruit bud has moved from the 'early green cluster stage' to 'early blossom' ............IF we continue with average temperatures (this week has been above average) The English Apple Man anticipates most apple varieties will be in Full Bloom during the first week of May.....
The weather is warming up and 'all plant life' is developing before 'our very eyes'
Below: left; Bladon Pippin is into early mouse ear and right; Discovery at mouse ear/early green cluster
Easter is over and we are already 1/4 of the way through 2018.......and still no 'clear' indication of when apple blossom time will be, although it is gradually getting warmer..........
Easter is early this year and coincides with a busy week for The English Apple Man's Family.........
The winter has been colder than we have seen for a while; plenty of winter chill this year........
Turners Cider, a newcomer to Craft Cider makers is proving a winner..........
Last week the English Apple Man reported the research into DMC (Dry Matter Content) being carried out at East Malling. This week, some more research presentations discussed.................plus results from the 2018 Taste of Kent Awards....
This seminar covered some key research carried out by NIAB/EMR on behalf of AHDB..........
NIAB EMR is a horticultural and agricultural research institute at East Malling, Kent in England, with a specialism in fruit and clonally propagated crop production. In 2016, the institute became part of the NIAB Group.
NIAB stands for: National Institute of Agricultural Botany.
On Wednesday, The English Apple Man joined fellow members of the Rural Focus Press Group founded by Pat Crawford and held at Hadlow College.
The English Apple Man is very cross...........
The English Apple Man attends the 30th Annual BIFGA Technical Day...........
The Annual Agrovista Conference held at The Mercure Hotel - Brands Hatch in Kent has become a 'must attend' event for fruit growers....
This is the time of the year when various fruit industry events are held; growers are not quite so busy and able to find time to attend these events..........
Water; not just quantity, but quality is the subject............
Each morning, as I get in the shower, its seems like only a few hours (not 24) since my last ablution.......
Looking into the future is a dangerous game - most predictions are proved wrong over time....however....
Looking back on 2017, there were many contrasting moments; 'personal' and 'professional' and in the world in general.
'As the children say'.....only three more 'sleeps' to Christmas Day when Santa Claus calls...........
Glossy new machinery is always appealing and there was plenty of it at Kirkland's Demonstration Day held at AC Goatham & Son's Griffins Farm last Friday - 8th December. More than 160 visitors attended the event, which is the third demonstration day since Kirkland re-located to Griffins Farm.
On Friday 7th November, The English Apple Man attended a Farm Forum organised by Ashford & Tenterden National Farmers Union (NFU) Branch at Wittersham Village Hall.
Today Friday 1st December HRH The Princess Royal formally opened the Arthur Goatham Building...........
With less pressure on my time, there is an opportunity to catch up with some of the visits The English Apple Man has been involved in these past weeks.....
Last week The English Apple Man visited Tesco and M&S inspecting displays of Apples and Pears and purchasing samples for 'taste evaluation'
Over the next two Journals, The English Apple Man will report on UK apples and pears on sale in our Supermarkets: this week - M&S and Tesco......next week: Waitrose, Sainsbury, Morrison. ASDA, LIDL and ALDI.
There was too much to cover in last week's Journal, so this week The English Apple Man adds more stories from the 2107 National Fruit Show...
This week the 84th National Fruit Show was held at The Kent Event Centre at Detling Showground in Kent
THIS WEEK'S JOURNAL WILL BE COMPLETED AND ON LINE 'sometime' on SATURDAY EVENING!
Ightham Mote is the perfect location for an apple orchard with 'iconic historic' apples, most of which are only visible in books or the National Fruit Collection...
Much is made of the influx of migrant workers working in the 'edible' horticulture sector and questions asked why we cannot find sufficient 'home grown' workers........there are many opportunities in the UK horticulture sector for young people to embark on a rewarding career, but education IS the key factor!
It's been a week of variety this week: Hadlow College on Wednesday, a visit to apple variety 'guru' Joan Morgan with a dozen varieties from my brothers small orchard in his garden in Wiltshire on Thursday and 'today' Friday 29th September involved in the 5th Pip to Plate event at Hadlow College and tomorrow; Saturday 30th September supporting Ightham Mote's apple event..
The Hadlow Focus Group has been part of The English Apple Man's calendar for several years now........
Living in the world of intensive commercial apple and pear orchards, it's nice to get back to basics..........
This season is proving to be a challenging one....
In August The English Apple Man escorted a group of German fruit growers in the West Midlands and visited two growers who are trying to avoid the world of 'volume production'
From an early age, I was conscious of September marking the start of Hop picking and Apple and Pears being harvested.....
For a view of the past: click on Hop Picking in 1950-59 an old black & white image of 'days gone by'
This season has been a good one for UK cherries.....lots of beautiful fruit, spread over a season which lasted for 10 weeks....now UK Apples & Pears will take centre stage....broadly speaking the cherry season starts with harvest in East Kent and finishes with cherries in Scotland..........
It does not seem that long ago, but it is now eight years since the first English Apple Man Journal was published on-line on 14th August 2009..........click on The English Apple Man Journal 14th August 2009
For the second time in 3 weeks, The English Apple Man visits Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.....
Some time ago, my friend Leon Jahae asked me to act as a guide for a group of fruit growers from Lake Constance as they visited fruit growers in Gloucestershire, Hereford and Worcestershire.
Last week The English Apple Man attended Fruit Focus and reported some of 'the action' and this week's Journal will include more from Fruit Focus........this week The EAM has been in the West Midlands visiting growers in Gloucester, Hereford, Worcestershire and Shropshire....which will be reported fully over the next few weeks!
The 2017 Fruit Focus was held on Wednesday 19th July at NIAB/EMR
UK Cherries, like Home grown Asparagus, are in my opinion superior to any from overseas.....but the season for both, is short....however modern methods are extending both beyond their 'historic' natural season.
The frosts this spring have left a mixed picture for this year's apple and pear crop.........
Below: left to right: Bramley eye russet, Gala malformed calyx. Conference Pear severe russet
In 1947, soon after the end of World War 2, Arthur Conference Goatham set up in business: initially while living in Bearsted buying fruit at the farm gate or at auctions. In 1980 Arthur moved to Hoo on the Isle of Grain and bought Street Farm.
But what will the future hold?
From late May - early June, while driving on Country Roads there are countless signs advertising Strawberries & Cherries; that early the Cherries are not English; but now in mid-June with an early season, home grown Cherries are coming 'on stream'
Today: Friday 9th June, The English Apple Man joined the next Under 40's Committee and past and future U40 delegates at Chandler & Dunn's farming enterprise at Lower Goldstone in East Kent.
Living Walls is a concept for creating vertical green areas where conventional 'horizontal' areas are restricted....its not new, but it is gaining momentum and could be the 'next big thing'...........
This week The English Apple Man tells a tale of an apple grower who has not sprayed his orchards with anything; no pesticides, no weedkiller, not even foliar feeds.....for more than 20 years.......
With the increase in temperatures, and a a decent amount of rain, we are in a 'very growy spell' but not without it's challenges......
Recent frost is very much in the news; it would appear the continent is the worst hit and Vineyards in particular have been in a fight to reduce the level of damage with 'candles burning brightly'
The variation in temperature over the last two weeks has been extreme; what does this mean for our fruit trees in blossom...
Wednesday and The English Apple Man joined fellow BIFGA members for the Annual Spring farm walk, held this year at Mole End Farms...after a very early blossom period, mother nature delivers a scare...frost damage and ice in the air.....
Comparing last week's blossom stages (21st April) with this week (28th April) the blossom development ranges from late bloom on Bladon Pippin to Early Fruitlet on Discovery and Red Windsor. To date no frost damage evident on these trees/varieties here in Hastings Sussex.
Below: left to right: Bladon Pippin, Discovery, Christmas Pippin, Red Windsor - on 21st April
Below: left to right: Bladon Pippin, Discovery, Christmas Pippin, Red Windsor - on 28th April
Last week The English Apple Man attended the Marden Fruit Show Society (MFSS) AGM held at Hadlow College. Presentations highlighting the consequences of government policy on our farming futures were central to our speakers...
Then an announcement of a General Election generates more speculation.....
For many years Apple Blossom time traditionally came at the end of the first week of May....at least that is how The English Apple Man remembers this very enigmatic event...blossom time is a time of great hope and sometimes trepidation....
Sunshine and higher temperatures are resulting in rapid changes in fruit bud development.....talking to a grower in East Kent today, Pears are at the late blossom/petal fall stage with fruitlets already showing up...Cox at green cluster to early pink bud and Braeburn at Pink bud stage....
This week The English Apple Man celebrated his 75th Birthday........
This week's Journal will concentrate on U40's visit to Haygrove Heaven and Fruitways
There is so much to write about the Under 40's visit to South Africa.....could take a couple more weeks...
The English Apple Man has now been home from South Africa for 6 days and 6 hours......it has taken all week to overcome the tiredness....but plenty going on to occupy the mind....
This, the 50th anniversary of the Under 40's Conference was held for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere; this week's Journal focuses on some of my pictures (I took well in excess of 1,000 + lots of video) with short captions as The English Apple Man only arrived home in mid morning after our overnight flight from Cape Town....at 9pm on Saturday, I am battling the tiredness as I try to finish the Journal....body and mind have given up, so finish finishing Journal on Sunday morning.....just walked my dog (Sunday am) and its' 'p.....g' with rain and temperature 4.5C..last week we were enjoying 25C - 40C....its now afternoon and time to 'wrap up' thus week's Journal. Over the coming weeks, The English Apple Man Journal will cover many of the individual visits in greater detail....
2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Under 40's Conference and takes place in the Southern Hemisphere for the very first time.....
Driverless tractors are about to make their mark in UK orchards...
Canker is almost certainly the most challenging tree health aspect of apple production..
February can be the most dreary month of the year....but its a good time for going out to lunch...
A busy week, with East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) AGM - Orchard Competition Awards and Dinner at Boughton Golf Club on Tuesday evening and the 29th BIFGA Technical Day at Dale Hill Golf Club on Wednesday.......
The English Apple Man attended a Seminar this week where advanced local weather forecasting is used to guide growers when the risks of fungicidal infection periods may occur and thresholds for pests reached.
What is on the English Apple Man's agenda for 2017?
2017 gathers pace.....its already nearly a week old....
What's in store for 2017
In this week's English Apple Man Journal we will take a look back at some of the events featured in the Journals of 2016
Codling Moth, Cydia pomonella is a serious pest in apple orchards...
With more information from my friends Vikram & Simon.....and Richard Killian at FAST
We have progressed this week, but Mrs EAM is still moving slowly..........not sure I was cut out for Nursing, but when its the lady you love, its surprising what you are capable of!
On Monday; Mrs English Apple Man had a new knee!
On Thursday, The English Apple Man joined a small group of growers on a trip to Italy to view a new apple picking platform
Tuesday morning and The English Apple Man is on route to New Spitalfields Market........
Suddenly the afternoons are shorter, but the sunshine has stayed with us for most of this week.......colder from Wednesday, but still with sunshine illuminating the autumn leaves..."until this afternoon when the rain arrived"...
This week The English Apple Man Journal will review the 2016 National Fruit Show and report on our visit to DEFRA in London.....
A busy week; The English Apple Man joined his fellow Judges on Tuesday at Detling Showground in Kent for the judging of the National Fruit Show competition fruit.........
This week we have enjoyed sunshine, mixed with some crisp autumnal temperatures, just right for walking my dog Poppy....and on Wednesday enjoying a society golf day at Lamberhurst Golf Club with the trees in varying degrees of beautiful autumnal colours.....
We are now in October and while many varieties have been picked, the later maturing varieties are approaching harvest time.
Below: left - right: Crimson Crisp - Daliclass - Breaburn 'Mariri Red'
Today: Friday 30th September the 4th Pip to Plate event was held at Hadlow College
The English Apple Man has been in France joining '50th anniversary celebrations and looking at new varieties of apples & pears.
While the season has been running a week behind last year, the recent warm weather has brought picking forward and it's now 'full steam ahead' for the next few weeks.
Another year, another harvest; it's Gala Cub pre-harvest meeting time again....
The English Apple Man spent Tuesday judging orchards in the Gravesend & Rochester Orchard Competition
The sun has been shining this week adding sugars and flavour to the first English Apples...
The English Apple Man joined East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) members on Tuesday evening for the Winning Orchard Walk.
Farming: 'NFU Orchard Competition Prize-giving' - Friends: 'Cricket on Benenden Green' - Fun: 'Golf at Hever Castle'
It is the time of the year for orchard competitions....East Kent Fruit Society held their competition on 18th & 19th July. The Goudhurst and Paddock Wood NU Branch held theirs on 27th, 28th & 29th July. EKFS Stone fruit judging took place on 28th June.
The Annual Fruit Focus event was held at East Malling Research on Wednesday 20th July.
On Tuesday 19th July, The English Apple Man joined the Under 40's at Brogdale Farm.
Pollinators, Predators and Productivity
Its time for English Cherries again and The English Apple Man attends the funeral of Lord Mayhew of Twysden.
The 28th AGM of the British Independent Fruit Growers Association (BIFGA) was held this week at Hadlow College.