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.
With COVID-19 showing signs of containment by Vaccinations, the 2021 National Fruit Show returns as a live event.
Click on NATIONAL FRUIT SHOW 2021 to access web site and opportunity to register for this year's event.
This Wednesday, The English Apple Man joined fruit growers at Hadlow Place Farm for the presentations of The WEALD GROUP NFU Orchard Competition 2022.
This was the 71st Prize Winning & Farm Walk event. An occasion always enjoyed by growers in the Weald of Kent and special in that, it is a 'whole farm' competition, rather than an individual orchard entry.
The competition has been organised by NFU Wealden Branch (previously Goudhurst & Paddock Wood) Group Secretary Martin Webber and his NFU colleagues Patrick Bowering & Shaun Joubert.
For the last 2 weeks The English Apple Man has concentrated on 'Berries' - today we look at the prospect for Robotics in Strawberry production. Two companies making inroads into strawberry growing; 1. Already in use and 2. One in commercial trials.
1. SAGA robotics
The traditions of the agricultural industry are set for a technological shift. Norwegian and UK based Saga Robotics has recently raised EUR 9.5 million from international investors in support of its ambitious growth plans.
2. Dogtooth Technologies
Dogtooth is a Cambridge-based technology start-up, building state-of-the-art intelligent robots for soft fruit picking.
Ten years ago, it was difficult to imagine robots picking delicate berry fruits as well as people. But enormous progress in the field of machine learning and computer vision means that robotic picking is now a reality.
Over the last 20 years the supply of 'home grown British Berries has been an unparalleled success story
At last week's Fruit Focus Nicholas Marston Chairman, British Berry Growers explained the reasons behind the re-branding of British Summer Fruits into the new brand of BRITISH BERRY GROWERS
This Wednesday The EAM visited FRUIT FOCUS the annual horticultural event held at NIAB at East Malling.
Arriving before 10am the car park was already very well filled and as I got out of my cool car (air conditioned) the outside felt like facing an open oven!
Making my way in, via registration I found The South East Farmer Magazine stand with Jamie McGrorty and his delighful wife Becky, she armed me with a bottle of cold water which accompanied me for most of the day!
In the past (when my energy was greater,) I would try to cover as much as possible, but now feeling my age and in the extreme heat, I made my way slowly to stands of particular interest (to me) and accepted the occasional ice cream and a nice cold can of drink!
The 2022 UK Cherry season is now 'up and running'
This week the English Apple Man had been intending to join fellow members of East Kent Fruit Society for our annual 'Stone fruit' walk, but unfortunately due to a health issue, I was not able to attend.
I thank my very good friends Norma and Brian Tompsett for stepping up and sending me a report and pictures of this excellent evening event!
This year EKFS visited Oliver Doubleday and his family business in the heart of historic fruit growing country, where Henry VIII's Fruiterer, Richard Harris chose to grow the strawberries, cherries and other fruits loved by the Tudor King at the heart of what is now recognised as The Garden of England.
In July 2018 The English Apple Man joined EKFS members on a visit to GH Dean: see link to Journal Growing Cherries in King Henry V111 Orchards
Regenerative agriculture, what is it?
Regenerative agriculture is a way of farming to build and improve soil fertility, whilst sequestering and storing atmospheric CO2, increasing on farm diversity and improving water and energy management. It is a holistic solution that represents a first step towards a wider set of economic, environmental, and social benefits.
Below: James Smith welcomes us to Loddington Farm
On a recent visit organised by Patricia Crawford - Press, PR and Business Consultant as part of the Farmers Guardian KENT TOUR sponsored by MHA MacINTYRE HUDSON, The English Apple Man was invited to join Patricia and Farmers Guardian journalist Alice Dyer on a visit to James Smith at Loddington Farm, Linton near Maidstone in Kent.
Loddington Farm is run by James Smith. After graduating from Reading University with a degree in crop science, he pursued a career in fresh produce, gaining valuable experience and understanding of the fresh produce industry, until 18 years ago, when he joined his father on his great, great grandfather's apple farm in the beautiful Kent countryside.
The English Apple Man has known his father Alan for circa 50 years and has followed James influence on the farm since he returned to join Alan at Loddington.
As Wimbledon approaches Strawberries take prime position.
Although 'home grown' Strawberries are available from Springtime until early Autumn, the peak production/consumption time has always been around this time (June/July) coinciding with Wimbledon!
At a recent East Kent Fruit Society event. EKFS members visited Hugh Lowe Farms at Barons Place, Mereworth.
Welcomed by Marion Regan (4th generation) and her daughter Amelia Maclean (5th generation) of the strawberry growing business started by Bernard Champion in 1893, EKFS members were taken by coach to three of the production sites in the locality.
Hugh Lowe Farms are a 5th generation family-owned business which has been growing soft fruit since 1893. Approximately five thousand tonnes of strawberries and 800 tonnes of raspberries and blackberries are grown from tunnelled production and from glass, with the balance of hectarage in arable crops, and environmental schemes. The main site is located in Mereworth with further production in Ightham and Eynsford.
Marketing through the growers' co-operative Berry Gardens Growers, they have supplied soft fruit to major supermarkets such as M&S and Waitrose since the mid 1970s.
They also have supplied all the strawberries eaten at Wimbledon for nearly 30 years and also support many local markets and community events.
Below: John Breach - BIFGA Chairman
At the recent BIFGA Farm Walk held at Victoria Farm Hadlow, BIFGA Chairman John Breach issued a summary of issues relating to relationships between retailers and their suppliers.
Invited to be the opening speaker at the BIFGA event, Mark White - Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) updated members on his commitment to ensuring fair play between retailer and supplier.
Since the establishment of the GCA the relationship between suppliers and retailers has worked on a much more agreeable structure!
The Farm Walk was attended by more than 90 and included representatives of several major Supermarketss
Following on from last week's Journal, The English Apple Man sets out the Unsustainable nature of Supermarket retail prices in face of cost inflation!
This season will be a determining factor in the future of 'home grown' apples!
The prices which have been squeezed over the last few years, are no longer sustainable!
Even before the recent 'rampant inflation' financial returns home to the grower were hampering investment in new orchards.
"Once older orchards are not replaced with new (more productive ones) the steady decline sets in!"
Over the next two Journals The English Apple Man will attempt to get behind two words which are at the heart of so many aspects of modern life!
In particular the sustainability of the industry which has dominated my life and given me so much joy, and much angst over nearly 65 years of my life!
The price at retail level and the financial return back to the grower is key to apple growers Sustainability!
Looking back to my Journal for 14 November 2014
"The display of English Apple & Pears is very encouraging on two counts: the quality of the fruit is visually very good and from tasting the eating quality is equally good. My impression is the main Supermarkets I have visited this week; e.g. Sainsburys, Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose are providing good shelf space for English fruit.
Looking at the price structure it seems £1.95 per kilo for loose fruit is the 'standard' across most varieties and retailers. The adoption of fruit numbers per poly-bag unit has been standard practice for most retailers now for 2-3 years (if not more) but the fruit size indicator; namely size by measurement in 5mm bands is now being replaced by definition by weight: for example 204-255 grammes
Today the buzz words: are Sustainable and Unsustainable!
This week The English Apple Man was delighted to receive an unexpected email from a lady in Scotland!
I have been enjoying your website and am delighted by the huge amount of excellent, interesting apple knowledge you put on it.
I am a national collection holder for heritage Scottish apples and pears and Scottish cider apples. My ambition has been to create the environment for commercially grown apples in Scotland again and to encourage farmers, cider makers, apple juice producers to grow apples on a commercial scale again.
34th BIFGA TECHNICAL DAY VISITS TO FARMS IN THE WEST KENT AREA - WEDNESDAY 11TH MAY 2022
Our hosts for this event were:
FARM A Alex Charrington, Charringtons,
FARM B Richard Edmed, Flightshott Farm Orchards,
FARM C David and Veronica Knight, Pippins Farm,
On Thursday morning The English Apple Man joined fellow members of The Press for the official opening of the new £11.3 million investment in a 'state of the art' research centre at NIAB at East Malling
Prior to the 'formal opening ceremony' - introductory comments were made by: Professor Mario Caccamo NIAB CEO,and Tom Tugendhat MP. Additional speakers; Oliver Doubleday (Chair of East Malling Trust) and Jim Godfrey (Chair of NIAB Board)
Following the opening ceremony, invited visitors toured the research centre.
Principal among the guides: Glasshouse Manager Emma Easton who began her career at EMR 37 years ago and is now managing this exciting new research complex.
Nicola Harrison - Programme Director for 'Growing Kent & Medway' UKRI Strength in Places Fund at NIAB
Robert Saville, Growing Kent & Medway, Innovation Growth Manager.
NIAB at East Malling - Scott Raffle, Ross Newham, Dr Mark Else and Professor Dan Sargent
Dr Flora O'Brien Specialist in Root Biology NIAB at East Malling
This week The English Apple Man reports on Judging the apple juice competition for the National Fruit Show and a Charity Bike Ride in Memory of Rosy Green organized by her daughter Georgie and participated in by The Green Family led by 'patriarch Mike Green.
Recently (27th April) The English Apple Man joined colleagues judging the National Fruit Show juice competition.
At our customary location; the Oast Room provided by NIAB EMR at East Malling Research and under the supervision of NFS Competition Manage Norma Tompsett, and David (head honcho) Pennell who had the unenviable task of gathering the results, entering them on his PC and ensuring judgments were in line with the mandate for fair competition.
While blossom has been emerging for a little while now: Plum, Cherry, Pears and some earlier blooming apples, this last week has seen full bloom on many apple varieties.
On Tuesday East Kent Fruit Society held their annual blossom walk at Hugh Boucher's Newlands Farm at Norton in East Kent.
"The Boucher Family have been farming in Kent for over 130 years, specialising in fruit since 1942. These days, backed by a great team, grower Hugh Boucher runs the thriving fruit farm focusing on quality, sustainability and stewardship"
The business name is Robert Boucher & Son. Robert started growing fruit in 1942. Robert was succeeded by his son Rex Boucher who in turn passed the mantle to Hugh Boucher.
The Boucher family grow a variety of award winning Apple, Pears, Blackcurrants and Strawberries
The farm has remained mixed with top fruit sold through ABB PO, strawberries through Berry Gardens and blackcurrants under contract to Ribena. They also run a small year-round packhouse. Store and Pack own fruit
Apple varieties include Jazz, Gala, Cox, Bramley, Russet and Braeburn, plus a small acreage of pears. Their strawberry season lasts from Mid May to Mid October and they grow both standard and premium varieties, Some June bearers but mainly ever bearers.
The farm has remained mixed with top fruit sold through ABB PO, strawberries through Berry Gardens and blackcurrants under contract to Ribena. They also run a small year-round packhouse.
In addition to the farm walk, EKFS members had two presentations from NIAB EMR: Flora O'Brien talked about carbon sequestration in orchard crops and Michelle Fountain explained how to do pollination surveys and assess pollination efficacy in orchard crops. This is part of an EU funded pollination project called BEESPOKE
Farm Shops have developed considerably over the last 50 years, from simple buildings offering a limited range of home produced produce to many very sophisticated enterprises selling a wide range of produce, not necessarily grown 'on site'
On Tuesday The English Apple Man visited Chris & Lesley Dench and their sons John and Nathan as they re-opened their farm shop with a new upgraded shop and supporting area servicing the needs of the shop and their fruit juice business
Ringden Farm is among the unique selection of farm shops 'producing the vast majority' (95%) of the produce they sell!
Originally founded in 1949 after the sale of land belonging to the Seacox Heath Estate. Ringden Farm was a just a bare 17 acre field.
The Dench family have been at Ringden Farm since 1963 and is very much a family run business. With an award-winning range of juices made from fruit grown, pressed and bottled in the heart of the Kent & The Sussex Weald.
As I write today, the weather is glorious and the blossom is opening fast!
The image 'LEFT' of Conference Pear at the 'balloon stage' was released on Twitter by the National Fruit Show to remind us all the new season for British Apples and Pears is underway.
Different varieties have varying times of blossom, but over the next week or two all will burst forth in bloom!
Seasons are definitely earlier than 40-50 years ago based on full bloom for our traditional apples Cox & Bramley and Conference & Comice pears.
Over the last 50 years, the average blossom time has progressively come earlier and earlier. The blossom time varies from year to year, sometimes very early and sometimes not so early, but over time the average blossom time has advanced by circa 14 days.
Click on EAM Journal 22nd April 2011
The National Fruit Show AGM on Wednesday 6th April was followed by a Technical Conference
After the AGM the attendees were able to join Professor Simon Pearson (Lincoln University), Lee Abbey (NFU) Tim Mordan (Defra), Dr Trisha Toop (Agri-EPI centre) Oli Hilbourne (Outfield Technologies) Dr Nicola Harrison (NIAB EMR) and Scott Raffle to explore the technology, policy and research that is shaping our future.
"Time flies" is an often spoken assessment of how quickly our lives evolve.
Below: left; a recent picture of the EAM and right' with my future wife in 1958 - sweet sixteen and below after our Honeymoon in 1963
On Tuesday 29th March The EAM celebrated his '80th Birthday' an age which I never dreamed of reaching as my parents passed away at 46 and 64 respectively!
My wife and I met in 1958 and married in 1963. I have been so lucky to have had her support through some difficult times and given me two beautiful children.
With Spring in the air and fruit bud advancing daily, The English Apple Man enjoys a machinery open day and takes a look at fruit bud development.
On Thursday this week, The EAM joined visitors at NP Seymour for their OPEN DAY where a wide display of tractors and machinery designed to feed the needs of Fruit & Viticulture Industries + representatives of manufacturers eager to answer questions from the growers present.
From: NP Seymour Website:
"Welcome to the UK's leading specialist tractor and machinery dealership, NP Seymour.
Started by Nick and Barbara Seymour in 1974, our family-run business is today headed up by the second-generation, Claire Seymour, who remains dedicated to helping fruit farmers, hop growers, packhouse managers, vineyard owners and winemakers with all their equipment needs"
"Based just outside Goudhurst, Kent, our purpose-built site, Avon Works, is a hub of activity, complete with sales showroom, extensive parts stores and a busy workshop. Over the last 45 years, we've proudly developed relationships with leading manufacturers from around the world to bring our horticultural and viticultural customers the very best machinery solutions"
After the long periods of Lockdown, we (my wife and I) will be enjoying only our second visit in two years to our Daughter and her family in Derbyshire.
Tomorrow Saturday 19th March will be our Son-in-Law's 61st Birthday and having arrived today Friday 18th mid morning we are able to relax with them.
Annually the East Kent Fruit Society met in January for their AGM, Dinner and Trophy Presentations in late January.
Due to COVID19 the 2022 AGM was held in early February on ZOOM, but for the first time in two years the Annual Dinner and Trophy Presentations took place as a 'live event' at Faversham Golf Club on Tuesday (last) 8 March.
Below: EKFS Trophies
It is difficult to concentrate the mind on fruit growing issues with the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine.
On Tuesday 1st March my good friends John & Peter Breach attended The West Midland Top fruit Discussion Group meeting
Today - Friday 4th March The English Apple Man joined farmers and associated members of the NFU for RABI fundraising Farmhouse Breakfast at AMOS HALL Hobbs Parker, Romsey House Ashford.
The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution - RABI - are a national charity that provides local support to the farming community across England and Wales. Established in 1860, we have been offering guidance, financial support and practical care to farming people of all ages for generations.
Today Friday 25th February The English Apple Man visited several Supermarkets in my region to assess the availability of home grown apples and their quality!
Very pleased to find a good variety of English Apples on display at the stores visited as we are now 6 months into the UK marketing season.
In addition to taking notes of the apples on display, The EAM purchased some Cox, Cameo, OPAL, Jazz and Pink Lady plus a pack of French Jazz and Pink Lady for comparison purposes.
The apple packs vary in size of fruit, number in pack etc. these nuances explain the price per pack differential. Also promotions result in the occasional very low price offers, like the Spanish Envy apples found in M&S.
With the current unfolding tragedy in UKRAINE all other news seems insignificant by comparison.
We are so lucky to live in a Country where FREEDOM is taken for granted!
New Zealand apple harvest well under way and the first UK grown Pink Lady on sale in UK Supermarkets.
Achieving success in the competitive word of global apple marketing is becoming increasingly dependent on breeding a quality variety and protecting it with a BRAND. The most successful global brand is Pink Lady with it's licensing agreements issued only to carefully chosen growers. For the first time Pink Lady is being grown and marketed by two leading UK producers.
Click on link: UK grown PINK LADY
Meanwhile, Turners & Growers (T&G) the giant New Zealand marketing organisation which has developed some of the world's most successful new trade marked varieties continues to develop new exciting apples like POPPI
Apples & Pears
APPLE stocks are 10% ahead of the 5 year average and 5% higher than (LY) last year (at 1/1/2022)
Relevant to the UK market is that GALA is 15% ahead of LY and a record stock holding! Driven by significant stock holdings in Italy, France and Poland
The UK stock is 21% above LY and significantly higher than the 5 year average
Braeburn is at a low stock volume this season (in line with last season which was tight towards the End of May (season finish)
PEAR stocks are 18% lower than Last Year
This being driven by a VERY low crop in Italy due to weather
Conference is 15% behind LY (not enough) and will need careful management to meet new season
Rocha stocks are 140% ahead of LY (too much)- this will be a problem for the supplier to move effectively
NIAB EMR APPOINTS SCOTT RAFFLE AS KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE MANAGER
Scott Raffle has been appointed to the role of Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager at NIAB EMR.
Widely known within the UK fruit industry for his previous work at ADAS, and more recently his work disseminating AHDB-funded fruit research, Scott is taking on a newly created role to improve the information flow of research results from NIAB EMR and to raise its profile
The English Apple Man has featured Robotic Apple Harvesting Developments over the last few years and noted some success with the Abundant system trialled in commercial harvesting in 2020 with T&G Growers.
Click on: Abundant Robotic Apple Harvesting
Sadly it appears Abundant are no longer trading and what appeared (to me ) to be a successful robotic format is no longer in development.
The EAM thanks The Good Fruit Grower Magazine for producing an excellent article featuring Fresh Fruit Robotics robotic harvester development update.
This week The English Apple Man joined family and friends of Graham Caspell as we paid our respects and said farewell to a very good friend.
Since 2008, Graham was responsible for all farming operations at East Malling Research station both commercial and science.
On a happier note the opportunity to celebrate 'Cabaret' an excellent bi coloured apple bred by John Breach.
As we move into a new year apples and pears harvested in 2021 intended for marketing between 1st January and mid summer will be subject of regular inspection. This will involve general quality parameters, but critically internal condition and fruit firmness which must conform to the specification for long term storage.
Using knowledge built up over many years, and particularly research at East Malling Research Station in Kent, industry experts can predict when the apples intended for storage need to be picked and placed into store.
This involves collecting a sample (20 apples per sample) from each orchard on a weekly basis for 2-3 weeks in advance of the anticipated picking dates. Each sample is then tested to find its stage of maturity.
Testing involves knowing the fruit's firmness and the rate of starch conversion into sugar. Firmness is important as our Supermarket customers have tight specifications, which we must achieve. This emphasis on a minimum level of fruit firmness is to ensure 'soft' fruit of poor texture does not reach, and dissatisfy, the consumer.
Regular Market research involving Consumer Panels indicates the 'pet dislike' is soft, mealy, over mature fruit.
As we pray COVID-19 can be brought under control, the science and technology behind vaccines have given us hope of returning to some form of normality.
In the fruit industry science and technology are more important than ever! We have always battled diseases and pest control, but now as changes in society land on us at an exponential rate, we rely on science and technology allied to a better understanding of the challenges we face!
A recent planned demonstration on the use of drones in early December became a ZOOM event due to concerns about Omicron.
Agri-EPI Centre is accelerating the adoption of precision agriculture and engineering technologies to boost productivity across the whole agri-food chain. It does this by exploring how to optimise performance of the highly complex agricultural production and processing systems.
Drone Technology and Artificial Intelligence: Utilisation for High value Crops/Top Fruit Growers
In this online event, we heard about drone application and the use of artificial intelligence in supporting high-value crops and top fruit growers.
With a focus on the use of remote sensing methods platforms, such as UAVs (drones), which have opened up a wide selection of sensing options for use in agriculture. What are these options, what do they tell us about our farms and how can we use them to make good decisions? An expert panel of speakers included:
As we look back on 2021, a mixture of emotions come to mind!
On a personal basis my family has had a "S--- of a year, losing a family member and our beloved dog Poppy. In addition so many members of the fruit fraternity have passed away, most after a very long life, but some tragically before their expected lifespan!
So far (X fingers) my wife and I (79 & 80 years old) have avoided the Covid Plague by taking all the recommended precautions and are very grateful for the NHS and those who have driven the Vaccination process in the face of differing opinions of the media and all the "clever dicks" who claim to have the answers, but who will never have to make the agonising decisions themselves!
I have to say though, I am totally fed up with the "Anti Vaxers" - I understand some people are medically unable to take the precaution of Vaccine and some are scared but when the morons who invade test centres while spouting propaganda based on lies I really get mad!!!!
Dear English Apple Man readers with so much happening in our personal lives and across our nation, this week's Journal will be a short one!
Christmas for small children means the excitement of Santa calling and presents beneath the tree while we must remember the origin of the meaning of Christmas as Christ was born to Mary & Joseph in a manger in Bethlehem
This week the English Apple Man reports on a visit to the Kirkland Open Day
Based at Griffins Farm near Maidstone in Kent, the team led by Scott Worsley have built a strong reputation as major supplier of specialised machinery to the UK fruit and viticulture industries.
British Wine production is increasing at an 'almost exponential rate' and the Vineyard & Winery Show held at The Kent Event Centre at Detling Showground on Wednesday 24th November underlined the buoyant nature of this expanding industry.
Below: Jamie McGrorty
The volume of production may be small on a Global, or even European scale, but in these difficult times for UK horticulture, the success of UK Viticulture is heartening.
Before the show a statement from Vineyard Magazine
Vineyard is proud to announce that Sarah Calcutt - National Fruit Show Chair for the past 11 years and a Livery Member of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, has agreed to be Event Director, working closely with exhibitors, producers and sponsors to ensure that The Vineyard Show quickly becomes an unmissable event in the UK's wine industry calendar.
With more than 1,300 pre-registered tickets and a final number of visitors in excess of 2,000 underlined the foresight of Vineyard Magazine Publisher Jamie McGrorty one of the inspirational figures behind this highly successful new show.
World renowned wine writer and monthly Vineyard columnist Matthew Jukes conducted a structured wine tasting for 120 guests on the day Starting at 13:00 each guest was presented with 6 UK wines to sample. Selected by Matthew, these included still, sparkling and Rose.
Over the course of an hour, Matthew explained why he feels each one is special and warrants acclaim. This was an opportunity to have an exclusive insight into the very best of British wines with one of the world's leading wine writers.
The Mathew Jukes - Structured Wine Tasting was sponsored by Urban Bar and HSBC. At just £20 per participant. Proceeds of ticket sales will be donated to the Drinks Trust.
This week The English Apple Man intended to write about The Vineyard Show held last week at The Kent Event Centre at Detling in Maidstone, BUT, forgive me instead I will be remembering our "Retirement Baby" who came to us in June 2007 but sadly left us on Wednesday 1st December.
Please forgive my indulgent grief, and while recognising most of my readers will have gone through the same painful heartache at some stage in their lives, probably more than once!
Poppy was our third dog in 58 years of marriage. The first: Cindy a Jack Russell, the second Bob a Jack Russell x Springer Spaniel.
Poppy born on 19th March 2007 just 10 days before I retired has been an absolute joy for nearly 15 years!
On Tuesday The English Apple Man joined fellow members of East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) for the society visit to Hoaden Court Farm
The autumn EKFS visit to AC Hulme & Sons at Hoaden Court to see the packhouse facility built in 2020 and a new block of long-term DCA cold storage built in 2021.
AC Hulme is a family farming business extending to 4,000 acres in the further reaches of East Kent,
The English Apple Man is feeling his age!
This week I attended two Funeral Services for distinguished members of the fruit fraternity.
The first on Thursday a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Malcolm Withnall at Holy Cross Church Bearsted Kent.
The second on Friday a Celebration of Life for Alan Todd at St. Michael and All Angels Church Marden in Kent.
Lockdown and family health issues have kept the EAM and his brother apart for nearly six months.
Below: Our abode in Wiltshire
This week, one last look at the National Fruit Show 2021.
Below: National Fruit Show Executive Chair Sarah Calcutt with Master of Ceremonies Chris Rose and Auctioneer Clive Emson
Last week, The English Apple Man reported on news from the NFS 2021. With so much activity, it will need 2-3 weeks to do justice to this year's show, especially as it was the first 'live event' since 2019.
Below: The Minister Victoria Prentis MP opens the 2012 Show accompanied NFS President Teresa Wickham
The 2021 show was opened by the Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food, Victoria Prentis MP (Cons, Banbury & North Oxfordshire), with NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw also in attendance. The Minister met growers and toured the show, accompanied by other key figures including representatives of POs and the new ELMS programme.
There were just under 90 exhibitors at the show and the NFS team is delighted that many businesses who have supported the event for several decades have returned, while there are also a great number of new sponsors and exhibitors attending for the first time.
The pictures in this week's Journal were all supplied by Martin Apps - Countrywide Photographic - Official Photographer for The National Fruit Show The English Apple Man thanks Martin for his brilliant photos!
The 88th edition of The National Fruit Show held on Wednesday and Thursday 20th/21st October, was a welcome return to a live show after the 2020 show like so many other event became a ZOOM event.
Before continuing with this week's Journal, I have sad news to report.
Below: Malcolm Withnall, a grower, educator, journalist and friend
On Wednesday 20th October Malcolm Withnall, one of our apple industry's great characters passed away peacefully after a prolonged illness. Ironically Malcolm was a great friend and colleague of Roger Worraker who passed away in September.
They were the authors of two outstanding educational books: In 1997 a book written by Roger & Malcolm Withnall was published. Titled Royal Gala in England, the book was a grower's guide to improve production.
They collaborated again on a new publication formally launched at the 2013 National Fruit Show - the 'Apple Pruning Manual, explaining the science of pruning apple trees.
Malcolm's funeral will be a private family service, but his wife Anna told me today that a Memorial Service will be held at Bearsted, near Maidstone in Kent in the near future.
In this week's Journal, News from British Apples and Pears and Maturity update for Braeburn and Magic Star
Tomorrow - Saturday 16th October a Memorial Service will be held at 2.30pm for Roger Worraker a great stalwart of the top fruit industry and a champion of UK Gala apple development.
Venue: St Thomas A Becket Church - Church Lane , Capel , Five Oak Green, Tonbridge TN12 6SX
Below: Roger with his young disciples from Capel Primary School learning about pollination
The English Apple Man observes the current issues regarding a deficit of workers in agriculture, Recognising the problem is not confined to harvest workers on fruit and vegetable farms across the Nation!
On Monday while visiting an apple grower friend, and asking "so how is harvesting going? - short of pickers came the reply, I have only had three this past two weeks, normally (with a full crop) I would need 12-14 pickers. Thankfully, the crop is lighter this year so 10 would suffice. I hope to get some more at the end of the week (from a fellow apple grower).
He said he still has some Gala to pick and is 'crossing his fingers' the pickers will arrive in time!
As we move into October with our apple & pear growers fully involved with harvest, the finest of UK apples and pears will be the centrepiece of fruit shows over the next few weeks.
It's Showtime in October
Already, The Malvern Autumn Show has passed last weekend (September 24th, 25th & 26th)
On Saturday 2nd October (tomorrow) from 10am Cranbrook Apple Fayre takes place in the streets of Cranbrook in Kent
Brogdale Collections offer various opportunities under their HERITAGE EVENTS for visitors to book guided tours of the orchard collections.
The National Fruit Show takes place on Wednesday & Thursday 20th/21st October at The Kent Event Centre at Detling in Kent.
As apple harvest of the larger volume varieties 'takes off' The English Apple Man visits Adrian Scripps Ltd where 7 new REVO harvesting rigs were moving smoothly across an orchard of Jugala.
In last week's Journal The English Apple Man reported the sad passing of Roger Worraker.
Roger's sons James and Jonathan wish to let his many friends know that a Memorial Service to celebrate Roger's life will be held on Saturday 16th October at 2.30pm at:
St Thomas A Becket Church - Church Lane , Capel , Five Oak Green, Tonbridge TN12 6SX
As apple & pear harvest is well underway, The English Apple Man learnt of the sad passing of a great friend and mentor to so many UK apple growers.
Roger Worraker, sadly passed away on Tuesday 14th September after a short illness.
Below: Roger Worraker in his last year as a Judge at The National Fruit Show in October 2019
For many years The English Apple Man was paired with Roger as judges of the 'internal disorders' element of the 'Show Fruit' Class of the annual National Fruit Show.
The 2019 show was the last before the Covid-19 lockdown changed the format.
I will always appreciate his wisdom and cherish the time we spent together discussing the myriad of elements that influence growing apples successfully!
This week's English Apple Man Journal features a story from my good friend Vikram Singh Thakur, or Himalayan Apple Man junior as he styles himself!
Vikram works in the UK for a Multi National Company, but deep in his roots is the family orchards back home in Shimla in the Himalaya.
Every apple harvest he spends his holiday helping his Dad Lakshmam with the picking and packing operation.
In May 2013 The EAM met Vikram's father Lakshmam Thakur while he was on a visit to Vikram and his family.
It's a late season, but we are getting close to harvesting mainstream apple varieties.
Early season Discovery and Estivale have been harvested, and Scrumptious is 'there or thereabouts'
Bramley for long term storage should be underway, and Bramley in general by 6th September.
A message from a farming friend
Hi John, I am looking for Quinces for a distillery to make liqueurs.
I have supplied them for a couple of years but they need more.
If delivered in bins to Pembury the approx. price is £800 per tonne.
Good quality fruit needed.
Please respond to David Knight email
The challenges of fruit growers today (apart from making a profit) are obtaining and maintaining a labour force and balancing this vital element with a responsibility for the environment.
This week's Journal contains a lot of detail - primarily due to the desire to make all my readers fully aware of the lengths our grower take to ensure the production of 'healthy quality fruit' grown in an 'environmentally safe and sustainable way'
On Tuesday evening The English Apple Man joined many visitors to AC Goatham's 'Shrubbery Farm' at Eastry in East Kent for the walk of the Winning EKFS 'Orchard of the year. Shrubbery Farm is one of 25 farms belonging to AC Goatham & Son across Kent.
Click on AC Goatham Our Orchards
Across the apple & pear industry, yields in 2021 will be 'generally' below 2020 'primarily' due to frost, the orchards we visited are predicted to produce similar to 2020 and in some cases above 2020. The one notable exception is the Braeburn in Block 17 which is anticipated to be down from 80 tonnes in 2020 to 60 tonnes per hectare in 2021!
At this time of the year top fruit growers in Kent & Sussex have the opportunity to demonstrate their good management by entering 'one or two' or indeed both of the long standing Orchard Competitions organised by Weald NFU and East Kent Fruit Society.
On Wednesday many fruit growers attended the Weald NFU - Paddock Wood Orchard competition walk at the Winning farm - owned by Ian & Nick Overy. This competition is celebrating 70 years since the first one.
Welcoming visitors to the Farm Walk of the winning farm for the 2021 NFU competition, Group Secretary Martin Webber commented: "every year we face challenges, weather, crop quality, yields etc. but the last 18 months has delivered totally unprecedented challenges"
"This year's winners; Ian Overy Farms run by father & son partnership Ian and Nick Overy welcome visitors to Burrs Hill Farm on a very pleasant evening - Martin thanked the judges for their invaluable contribution and sponsors for their support"
This week, The English Apple Man looks at a number of 'bits and pieces' - a mixture of stories about fruit and fruit related items.
Weald Group NFU 70th Orchard Competition won by Ian & Nick Overy at Burrs Hill Farm, Brenchley.
Walk of Winning Orchard set for 11th August 6.30pm
EKFS Orchard of the year won by AC Goatham with a Gala Orchard at Shrubbery Farm, Eastry.
Walk of winning orchard set for 17th August @ 5.30pm
After the intrusion of COVID 19 last summer, FRUIT FOCUS returned on July 21st as a LIVE event.
The message from the organisers: Plan your visit and build a program that suits your personal needs/ interests.
"Hear from over 50 experts, innovators and policymakers, highlighting hot industry topics across all fields ranging from recruitment, farm and agricultural policies to robotics and optimise biological controls and IPM programs.
Guided tours of NIAB EMR's will be available throughout the day showcasing the latest fruit research facilities.
You can also see the latest fruit technology in action from leading providers including, Autonomous Spray Solutions, Berry Gardens and SAGA Robotics".
On Monday 19th July, The English Apple Man experienced some degree of normality as the BIFGA summer farm walk took place at Giles Cannon's delightfully scenic Roughway Farm at Plaxtol high on the Greensand Ridge.
It was the EAM's first venture out to a 'LIVE EVENT' since Lockdown took away any sense of normality!
Below: Kevin Workman Agrii
BIFGA would like to acknowledge the very generous support being given towards this event by:
Agrii, The Crossways, Alconbury Hill, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 4JH.
Contact: Kevin Workman email@example.com
British Cherries are now well in season and will continue until the last are picked in September in Scottish Cherry Orchards
This week The English Apple Man visited Michael Dallaway at his Cherry Orchard in Sandhurst in Kent.
Michael grows cherries at four different sites on the Kent/ East Sussex border. He sets his standards extremely high and only picks the cherries when they are fully ripened so that each and every cherry is a truly mouth watering experience. Come and find the stall to try some of the best cherries you will ever have eaten.
During the 6-7 weeks of the cherry season Michael will bring over a dozen different varieties for you to be able to try at selected markets.
We also produce our own pure and unsweetened Kentish Cherry Juice. Once pressed, the cherry juice isn't sweetened, or anything added, as the flavour is just perfect.
It has a beautifully natural cherry flavour, almost as good as eating fresh Kent cherries! The cherry juice comes in 1 litre bottles and each litre of juice contains approximately 3kgs of pressed cherries. We also supply the cherry juice in 250ml bottles.
At this time of the year, orchard competitions take place and Judges visit those growers who fancy their chances of winning a trophy.
East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) has been running competitions since way back before WW2.
This week EKFS organised a walk of the winning orchard from 2020 at John Hinchcliffe's New House Farm near Canterbury in East Kent.
Where the walk of Winning Apple & Pear orchards takes place in the same season, clearly judging cherries and organising a walk of the winning orchard is impractical in the same season, so historically the visit to the winning farm takes place the following summer.
John Hinchcliffe has grown apples and pears at New House Farm for many years and until recently grew Strawberries. He also grows Blackcurrants. Sadly The English Apple Man could not attend (health issues) but my good friends Brian and Norma Tompsett were present and sent pictures and their report back to me.
As we enter July, The English Apple Man takes a look at what's going on!
The Big Story this week is the launch of the British Cherry Season.
Below: Cherry pictures sent to me by Steve 'Cherryman' Castle, manager at Mount Ephraim in Herne Hill
Mount Ephraim is one of the earlier Cherry sites and Steve told me they are into their third week of cherry harvest. Come September the last cherries will be picked in Scotland. Prospects for GB Cherries are very good!
Regular readers of The English Apple Man, will be very aware of the rapid changes in apple production systems over the last few years.
While it took some time for 'very high density' planting systems to establish here in the UK, intensification was advanced in Europe, particularly in Belgium and Holland.
Below: 2 Dimensional tree management
Over the last 2-3 years, technology has transformed the management of apple orchards, allied with very narrow (2 dimensional systems) and the creation of 'digital orchards' enabling monitoring of temperature, light interception, leaf nutrient status, moisture and an increasing range of measurements allowing the fruit grower to tweak the needs of the tree down to an individual level.
The use of drones to map orchards down to individual trees, the introduction of sophisticated orchard sprayers capable of delivering pre planned quantities of protectants to individual trees, indeed to 3 selected zones on each individual tree is transforming the way orchards are managed.
As someone who has spent more than 60 years involved with fruit growing and in particular apples, I marvel at the application of new science.
It was then, a surprise to read an excellent article by Ross Courtney in the Good Fruit Grower magazine regarding a family of apple growers in the northern regions of Washington State, who are 'turning back the clock' by growing their apple trees less intensively!
It is always nice to see members of our industry rewarded for the years of excellence given in support of fruit growing!
On Tuesday evening at the East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) Soft Fruit visit to Paul Kelsey's Quaives Farm, Wickhambreaux, near Canterbury, Brian and Norma Thompsett received the prestigious 'David Hilton Memorial Medal' presented by EKFS Vice Chairman Paul Hamlyn
DAVID HILTON MEMORIAL MEDAL
David Hilton was a well respected East Kent fruit grower, A tireless supporter of the UK fruit industry and of the East Kent Fruit Society. He gave a large amount of time and energy back to the industry and was one of Kent fruit growing's unsung heroes.
In his memory, The East Kent Fruit Society decided to create an award for services to the fruit industry in Kent and beyond. The intended recipients are those who have given something something back to the industry, who have not been and are unlikely to be recognised in other ways.
Recipients are typically approaching the end of a career or stepping down from a defining role. Previous recipients have been growers, managers, advisors, research scientists, technologists, lecturers and others from key industry roles.
It is not aimed at recognising commercial or business success as Society competitions reflect this.
When I was a young man, speculation about the fruit set was, like today a topical subject. Members of the 'wise older generation would say, keep out of your orchards until Derby Day (then the first Wednesday in June) then take a look!
Times have changed, and the modern tree format shows fruitlets much more easily than the large trees back in my youth!
At the Recent BIFGA Technical Day, Scientists from NIAB EMR presented the latest developments in managing wildflowers and canker control.
IPM Flower Strips - Beneficial Refuges; Dr Michelle Fountain - Canker Research; Dr Matevz Papp-Rupar
First - SORRY - I had intended to cover the Vineyard Video between Scott Raffle and Paul Tuteirhiha, but I need to refer to the recording (currently unavailable) to ensure accurate representation. Maybe next week!
So, this week's Journal will feature the 33rd BIFGA TECHNICAL DAY IN THE WEST KENT AREA WEDNESDAY 26TH MAY 2021
This year, due to Covid, the technical day is being split into several separate afternoon/early evening tours to allow small, socially distanced groups to visit three farms and one cold storage site.
Also, a Press Release regarding International Trade Minister, Ranil Jayawardena MP visit to AC Goatham & Son.
East Kent Fruit Society visited NIAB/EMR via ZOOM on Tuesday for a Plum and Grape update!
Centrepiece of the event involved Scott Raffle AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, on video interviewing research personnel at the Plum Centre and the experimental Vineyard.
The Plum Centre featured the interview by Scott Raffle of Marzena Lipska, Karen Everitt and Celine Silva.
Scott Raffle also conducted the The Vineyard interview, with Paul Tuteirihia.
In this week's Journal we will look at the Plum Demonstration Centre and next week review the experimental Vineyard
Life brings it's challenges and opportunities; the apple business is no exception!
While we are still in that uncertain stage where the influence of frost damage in recent weeks has, or still may, reduce the crop potential for UK apples, pears, and stone fruit, post Brexit trade deals open potential opportunities for new exports of UK apples .
Small amounts of English apples have been exported in the past, usually of large apples not in demand with our consumers, the preference being for mid range sizes.
The export of British apples and pears to India represents an exciting opportunity for UK growers. However, with the UK only currently producing around 40% of apples and 20% of pears consumed in the UK, it is important to remember that there is huge scope to further develop our own markets, particularly following Brexit'.
Apple blossom time is so special, and it's creeping in this year rather than rushing in!
Below: Bladon Pippin at advanced Pink Bud stage, another warm day and it will be fully open
We have had a bit more warmth this week, but not enough to create a blaze of blossom, that having been said, there comes a time when the blossom emerges regardless!
Bladon Pippin has Cox as one parent, and aligns with Cox at the blossom stage.
Discovery, Red Devil, Red Windsor and James Grieve are ahead, in bloom with pollen sacs open on many flowers.
Christmas Pippin is a little behind.
Commercial varieties; Braeburn and Gala at early bloom and Jazz more advanced at full bloom/early petal fall stage.
The weather forecast for the next week suggests warmer temperatures, but also copious rain!
Lets cross our fingers and hope the bees pollinate and pollen tube growth results in a decent fruit set!
A CELEBRATION FOR THE LIFE OF RICHARD DAY 15.09.1969- 06.04.2021
From time to time, we lose a member of the fruit farming fraternity, but losing one so young is an absolute tragedy.
Richard Day's family and close friends gathered at St. Michael & All Angels Church Marden in Kent on Friday 23rd April to celebrate his life.
Born into a farming family in Marden, Kent, Richard attended Dulwich Prep School at Cranbrook and then Marlborough House Prep School in Hawkhurst, followed by Eastbourne College (1982-87) and finally Writtle agricultural college.
Interestingly David Gower just 12 years Richard's senior and a future England Cricket Captain and precocious left-handed batsman also attended Marlborough House school, from 8-13 years old.
There is still a bit of frost about and while the sunshine has been welcome this past week, any breeze has a cold edge to it!
The English Apple Man has a new friend!
Back in January, The English Apple Man was approached by an academic lady seeking advice on who to speak to in the apple industry, as she had been awarded funding for a research project funded by The Leverhulme Trust.
"I hope that you don't mind me contacting you out of the blue.
I'm an anthropologist, and I'm in the fortunate position of having funding to work on apples for the next three years. I'm writing to ask for your help! I really hope that's okay. I'm certain that you are very busy, and I don't want to impose, but at the same time I think that you are the best person to ask about apples - what I need to know and how I should go about finding it out! I love your website and I particularly enjoy the fact that you are so curious about everything to do with apples. I feel the same way"
After the prolonged lockdown and many events only surviving virtually 'on line' - The Marden Fruit Show Society is planning this year's National Fruit Show as a live event at The Kent Exhibition Centre on October 20th and 21st.
This week the Society held the Virtual AGM via ZOOM and confirmed the plans for this year are progressing very well with most trade stands already booked.
It seems everyone associated with our top fruit industry cannot wait to get back to 'as near normality as possible' - it may well transpire that we will still be required to wear masks, and handshaking may still be by 'elbow bumping' but the thought of admiring the best of British Apples & Pears on the central show stand, plus nuts and soft fruit entries, is already getting 'our juices running' - the added prospect of exploring a show full of trade exhibitors wets the appetite as well!
Frost is the fear for fruit growers, vineyards and gardeners, and this past week, Jack Frost has paid a call on UK apple and pear growers. Vineyards in France have been facing frost damage since February
Below: two flowers; one ok and the other 'black and dead'
Of course there are (at least) five flowers on each bud and one or two being lost to frost, is not necessarily a disaster!
My agronomist friend in Kent shares his findings!
Quite a bit of frost damage on Bramley's in the Weald. Also, quite bad on Braeburn in low-lying areas as well. Not a disaster yet, as most of the worst affected orchards got frosted last year as well, so there was way too much bud on the trees. Could do with some good weather in flowering now to save the day.
The French government has declared an agricultural disaster after an unusual early spring frost damaged crops and vines across the country.
Below: Frost Candles at Chablis in France
Warm this week, but turned colder today!
Left: The English Apple Man's Magnolia Tree
Tuesday was registered as the warmest March day since 1968 @ 24.2C. It was also The English Apple Man's 58th Wedding Anniversary and as we enjoyed a 'smoked salmon sandwich' in the garden at lunch time, I remarked how our Magnolia tree blossom had advanced from early morning and the apple tree bud on our Red Devil tree was showing distinctive signs of green leaf.
By the evening as we enjoyed a glass of Chablis, the advancement was almost breath taking!
The sap is rising and early signs of a new season are evident. Looking at past years, this season is very similar to 2020 in terms of bud development. What happens in the next few weeks will determine when apple blossom reaches full bloom.
Below Discovery bud at 'Bud Burst' in The English Apple Man's garden.
How quickly the fruit bud develops will depend totally on the weather over the coming few weeks!
Forecast of warmer over the next week, balanced by a colder spell over Easter, will create a 'start/stop' situation but as in previous years, once things are 'on the move' another burst of warm weather will drive the buds towards blossom.
Looking back to 2020 (who want's to?) - by mid April many varieties were at the Pink Bud stage with some buds in Full Bloom. The mix of varieties today has changed since Cox was the dominant variety, which delivers Full Bloom over a longer period with Braeburn ahead of Gala and Cox as an example. There was a time when Cox was in full bloom circa 7th May. Today climate change has brought the blossom stage forward by a week to ten days!
We live in an age of technology, the exponential rate of expansion is sometimes difficult to keep up with.
Drones are suggested as the panacea for many tasks. But when did the first (UAV) Unmanned Arial Vehicle first appear?
The first stop in our drone history timeline is the very early history of drones. First, for those who don't know, it's important to establish that the word "drone" simply refers to any aerial vehicle that is unmanned.
That is, the pilot does not sit or stand within the vehicle itself.
By this definition, the earliest unmanned aerial vehicle in the history of drones was seen in 1839, when Austrian soldiers attacked the city of Venice with unmanned balloons filled with explosives.
UAV technology improved throughout World War II (which saw a number of technological advancements as we all know) and into the Cold War as well.
What we do know is that modern drone warfare began in earnest in 1982, when Israel coordinated the use of battlefield UAVs alongside manned aircraft to wipe out the Syrian fleet with very minimal losses.
2006 was the first year that the (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a commercial drone permit. They issued an average of two of these permits a year for the next eight years - that was all that was requested.
As unmanned aerial vehicle technology improved in the military sector, those same technological improvements could be used in the private sector.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the history of non-military drone use began in earnest in 2006.
Then, in 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the company was considering using drones as a delivery method, igniting the public's interest in drone history. In 2015, the FAA issued 1000 drone permits, a number which more than tripled to 3100 permits in 2016 and which has continued to grow in the time since.
'Terroir' - "the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, which factors such as the soil, topography and climate.
The characteristic taste and flavour imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced .
Might 'terroir' be applicable to apple growing as well?
Certainly soil quality, location, drainage, nutrition, as well as variety, and tree management combine to influence the yield and quality.
Looking back at the AHDB webinar held in February - Woolly Apple Aphid, a problem which has been around for centuries, has been noticeably problematic for apple growers in recent years, and is the subject of AHDB funded research at NIAB/EMR.
What is Woolly Apple Aphid (WAA)?
Woolly aphid also known as American blight; its Latin name is Eriosoma lanigerum. It affects apples (eating and crab) pyracantha and Cotoneaster horizontalis. The cause; a sap-sucking aphid (insect) active from April to October.
Making use of modern technology is on an exponential journey!
This week The English Apple Man has attended three webinars, all dominated by new technology designed to make fruit growing more efficient and more environmentally sustainable.
First a look at a new Solar installation at the UK's largest apple & pear grower; AC Goatham.
On Tuesday a NetaFim webinar illustrated the importance of efficient irrigation for crops and sustaiabiity.
On Thursday the annual AHDB Tree Fruit Day was this year, an on-line event.
And Today Friday 26th February: What's New in 2021 for UK Fruit Growers in Sustainability and Tech.
Last week The English Apple Man reported on the broader aspects of The City Food Lecture.
The City Food Lecture, now in its 20th year is an annual, invitation-only high-profile fixture in the City of London and international food industry calendars. The Lecture is delivered every year by a leading figure in the food business who is invited to speak about the issues they regard as most important in shaping the way food is produced, distributed, marketed, sold and consumed.
The Key Note Speaker for the City Food Lecture 2021 was Mel Smith CBE, the Chief Executive of Ocado Retail, the world's largest pureplay online grocer.
In this week's Journal The English Apple Man expands on the content of Mel Smith's Lecture.
This week The English Apple Man had the opportunity to review the commercial and technical influences on our fruit industry.
Invited to be a virtual attendee at The City Food Lecture on Wednesday and FAST Technical Conference on Thursday, enabled a better understanding of the technology central to how retail food suppliers deliver our groceries onto our plate and the influences of technical advancement on fruit production in delivering a profit to the primary producer while satisfying the demands of today's retail industry.
This week's English Apple Man Journal will only embrace the top line elements of each event, leaving more detailed coverage for future EAM Journals.
Two elements of the separate events 'hit home' - "the intensity of collecting and interrogating data" by the retail industry and the "huge investment required by the producers" to stay in the competition for customers.
Reducing food loss and waste is essential to ensure food security and in achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 and Sainsbury's Supermarkets Plc sustainability targets.
This opportunity for a young academic was brought to my attention and if anyone is interested;
The closing date for applications will be 8 February 2021
From time two time, The English Apple Man receives comments from consumers. They may exude praise, or sometimes frustration.
This week a mix of consumer comments polarises my thoughts.
Below: British Conference Pear
Home grown pears have not cropped as heavily this past year and added to many UK pear growers grubbing their old poor cropping orchards a consequence is that 'home grown pears' are not as prevalent.
Add to that the influence of COVID-19 has resulted in some changes in consumer shopping habits and all British Grown apples & pears selling strongly, and available volumes running out earlier than usual.
Dutch or Belgian pears are the leaders in European pear production with their modern intensive orchards and a slightly more favourable climate for pear production. Their marketing strategy tends to target the UK market once British pears are drawing to an end. Hence we are already seeing Dutch Conference pears in our Supermarkets.
For many years it has been felt we could not match the yields and quality of Benelux pears, however with a better understanding and newer rootstocks, new intensive Conference pears orchards are growing in excess of 50 tonnes per hectare, well in excess of the 20 + tonnes average of the older orchards.
I don't know why, but there always seems to be the loss of someone we know as Christmas approaches.
In December I lost my Step Mother, albeit at a great age (95) and thankfully of old age, not the frightening virus destroying so many lives here and across the world.
Two days earlier on 8th December, an old friend succumbed after a short illness.
Robert Simpson was a great character and a top class fruit grower at Upton Bishop in Herefordshire, visiting Robert at his Chicory Crops business was always enjoyable and enlightening.
I was asked to write Robert's obituary for The Fruit Grower (published recently) and this week I have re-published his obituary on-line with a few additions.
In these troubled times, much is said about Covid-19 & Brexit, but the state of the Environment is the subject of much spoken and written word.
Making a success of business in this day and age is no longer just about making a profit
A story of success - Environment, People & Profit
It is now 25 years since I first met Angus Davison while visiting his Mother Cilla Clive at her farm at Ledbury.
Arriving with my colleague at Redbank, Cilla's fruit farm with views over historic Ledbury, essentially to discuss apple storage with Cilla, Angus was there to offer support to his mother.
From that visit I developed a lasting friendship with Cilla and her partner Tim Sobey.
The English Apple Man recognizes the importance of investment in research and technology which has benefitted the horticultural industry in terms of the safe and efficient production of British produce. As a former fruit grower and technical director of a major UK supplier, I have been close to the ongoing research into fruit growing.
During that time, the medium for research has been a statutory body set up by Government to administer the funding by levy of research projects.
In recent years the Horticultural Development Council (HDC) morphed into the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) in 2008.
This statutory body which includes different grower representation groups, like The Tree Fruit Panel where growers are elected to advise on which areas of research are most important for investment. It is important to recognise the Government does not have a mandatory commitment to match the research funds levied from growers. Although public funds can and are used to support the funding of various research projects. For instance INNOVATE UK is one such financial source.
The current position sees AHDB as a statutory body 'up for election' - with some producer sectors ready to vote NO as they see no meaningful benefit for paying a levy which delivers them little in return. Other producer organisations however see an important role for the continuation of AHDB, albeit in a 'restructured way.
Most of us (probably all of us) are glad to see back of 2020!
As we move into a New Year, we all hope for better times ahead. But in all probability, the situation will worsen before it improves.
I find the multitude of viewpoints the most difficult to deal with. Sure the Government have not handled the challenge as well as they might, but some of the theories proposed are frankly ridiculous. The argument that carrying on as usual, "while protecting the elderly and vulnerable, is a pipe dream" - if keeping the spread of the virus and associated death is very difficult in lockdown, how on earth can letting the Virus 'rip' be anything other than crazy!
The hospitals are struggling now, so how on earth if a dramatic increase in infection rates and hospitalisation would our wonderful doctors and nurses cope.
In March this message from a young lady in Spain regarding her father who is a Doctor on the front line fighting this evil virus portrays the dangers and anxiety suffered by innocent souls.
Health professionals are not risking their lives every day for you to be living like nothing is happening!
After the year we have all endured, The English Apple Man wishes all my readers as Happy a Christmas as the circumstances allow.
For many, no easily delivered platitudes will comfort the loss of loved ones, or the sadness at being apart from family this year.
But let's remember the celebration of Christ's Birth is the real reason we enjoy this festive season and not the commercial bonanza we have all become accustomed to.
Gosh, it's coming round fast, Christmas that is!
So little time and lots to do!
From time to time, The English Apple Man takes a look at what is going on in other major fruit growing countries.
This week an article by Kate Prengaman in The Good Fruit Grower magazine caught my eye!
This week, for the first time in 11 years, there will be no English Apple Man Journal reflecting our apple & pear industry,
Below: Mum last year
Sadly my dear mother (actually my Step Mother) passed away in the early hours of Thursday morning aged 95 years.
As a child, my younger brother and I lost our birth mother when we were just 7 and 11 years old.
We were blessed with a step mother who loved us as if we were her own.
The wretched COVID-19 spoiled the last six months of her life for our family, no fault of the wonderful care home and loving carers who have made her last few years so comfortable and safe. We were comforted knowing she was so well cared for and loved by those responsible for her well being.
This week The English Apple Man continues the story of Sampson Morgan's - 'How To Make The Most Of The Land'
Last week's English Apple Man Journal concentrated on Sampson Morgan's Plan for rescuing the depressing state of UK Agriculture by proposing a Government Funded strategy for creating a viable network of small fruit farms across the country.
The English Apple Man has now established the publication was in 1889 and features references to data including prices dated 1884, 1885 and 1887.
This week the Journal will explain why this opportunity made strategic and financial sense.
NOTE: If any of my readers have a knowledge of Sampson Morgan please let me know as there is nothing on record to show if his plans were ever put into action
Thanks to the dedication of Victorian gardeners, Britain once cultivated more varieties of apple than anywhere else in the world: more than 2,000 types of apples with all sorts of tastes, textures, shapes and sizes.
In this week's Journal The English Apple Man looks back to the late 1880's when 'commercial production' of 'home grown' apples and pears was well below consumer demand. Enormous volumes of apples and pears were imported from The USA, Canada, Belgium and Europe.
A friend alerted me to a visionary of that time and his book promoting the restructuring of farming with more fruit and less reliance on corn and root crops which delivered poor financial returns.
The author was Sampson Morgan and his book 'How To Make The Most Of The Land' was published circa 1890.
The desire to find ways and means of improving quality and yield of apples is an ongoing pursuit.
Many criteria are integral to the quest, but more than any other, 'improving light interception' is high on the agenda.
One of the trials seeking optimum light interception is The Helios project initiated by HL Hutchinson.
In 2019 The English Apple Man visited one of the two trial sites with Rob Saunders, Hutchinson Agronomist leading the Helios project.
Click on: HELIOS 2019
Mid November is a dreary time of the year, with daylight lost by 4.15pm
As we enter another period of turbulent lockdown, The English Apple Man looks at some very important issues!
ARMAGEDDON? - well not in the true sense of the word, even if it feels like we are facing insurmountable challenges!
COVID-19, BREXIT, et al.
"I suppose it could be worse, we could be in America" or as it's more correctly known, The United States of America!
At the very successful National Fruit Show held as a 'VIRTUAL' event several very important issues took centre stage.
This week The English Apple Man recounts some of the important issues challenging the future of British fruit production.
In this week's Journal The English Apple Man reviews more of the presentations from last week's 'Virtual' National Fruit Show
Below: left; NFS President Teresa Wickham and right; NFS Chair Sarah Calcutt
The 87th National Fruit Show took place on 22nd October (yesterday!) as a 'one day' virtual event.
Judging of the show fruit and tastiest apple took place on Wednesday (21st October) - The English Apple Man was privileged - 'again' to be part of the 'Tastiest Apple' tasting panel.
In the last decade, either Rubens or Jazz have been judged the tastiest.
The 'virtual National Fruit Show had so many excellent presentations by such eminent speakers, that it will be impossible to do justice to all in one edition of The English Apple Man Journal, therefore the content will be spread over several weeks!
10am Opening address of the show: Lord Krebs.
10.15am Session 1: RED Extra - British Produce Futures.
12pm - 2pm: The National Fruit Show Live's Technical Experts Forum.
2pm - 4.30pm. Session 2: Insight - the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and the Fruit Produce Journal present a panel discussion showcasing the latest research in top and soft fruit.
4.30pm: The Livery Awards.
5pm - 6pm: National Fruit Show Prize Winner's Announcements by a virtual cider bar with Nigel Barden.
Harvest is still underway, with the late varieties Jazz and Braeburn nearing completion.
Next week the National Fruit Show celebrates the best of British Apples & Pears with the 87th Show
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.
To view a history of apples in Britain: Click on GREAT BRITISH APPLES & PEARS HISTORY
October is the month when the 'top fruit industry' gathers to celebrate and promote our Great British Apples and Pears.
For the first time, this the 87th National Fruit Show will be a 'Virtual Event' due to the influence of COVID-19
Sponsors are always important to the success of the annual show and their support in these times of uncertainty are as important as in any normal year.
All the September varieties should have been picked and as we enter October, Cameo, Jazz, Braeburn & Magic Star are next on the harvesting list.
Other September varieties
Rubens - harvesting should now be nearing completion on all sites
Gala - Firmness has changed very little over the past week, but starch and brix levels are now falling rapidly. On many of the fruits, the conversion of starch into sugar has now finished and as the apples continue to respire, the stored sugars are utilised, resulting in the overall brix levels falling. As a result, harvesting even for short term storage should now be finished or nearing completion!
Cabaret - harvesting is underway.
Over the last 60 years, The English Apple Man has been involved with the annual apple harvest.
The first as a teenager 'just out of school' in 1958!
In those far off 'halcyon days' when trees were much, much bigger, some 25ft tall, wooden ladders were integral to the mode of picking.
We picked in those days with a canvas bag on our back, placing the picked fruit into the bag carefully to avoid bruising. The system was tiring and required great care. Once the bag was full, we would make our way to empty the bag, using our hands/arms to keep the bag clear of our body, or damage could/would occur!
The next task, emptying the contents of the bag (20-30lb of fruit) into boxes without damaging them!
The process meant we spent a large amount of time moving ladders, climbing 'up & down' ladders and walking carefully from tree to boxes before emptying with great care e.g. 'slowly'
There are apples that fit into the commercial sector and some best suited to a garden. All can deliver good fruit and great eating pleasure, but for the 'taste off the tree' experience, some stand out!
A new apple
BLADON PIPPIN is it's name and it has a fascinating background story
Sean Morris, the owner of the variety discovered an apple tree growing in the grounds of his office and when the tree began to produce fruit, he found the apples to be very tasty.
In fact he describes it as similar to Cox Orange Pippin, 'but better - When Sean retired, he decided to dig the tree up and plant it in his garden.
Bladon Pippin is now trade marked protecting it's unique identity. Bladon Pippin TM
It's all hands to the pump (as they say) with harvest for long term storage completed for Bramley & Cox apples and Conference pears.
Gala, the number one British apple has started at 'early sites' and about to get going on the remaining regions
harvesting Bramley at AC Goatham - after viewing the video, exit twitter and return to the EAM Journal.
Correct harvest date
There is general agreement that apples destined for medium or long-term storage should be in an unripe condition at the point of harvest but close to the onset of ripening (sustained increase in ethylene production and in respiration rate).
Picking too early is to be avoided since fruits are likely to have a tough texture, high acidity, low sugar and poor flavour development. Early picked fruit may also have insufficient red coloration (important for dessert cultivars) and may have increased susceptibility to storage disorders such as superficial scald, bitter pit and core flush.
Late picked fruit are likely to be too soft for the market and to develop disorders such as senescent breakdown during storage or marketing. The general appearance of the fruit may be adversely affected and the background colour may be too yellow for market requirements. In the case of some cultivars such as Gala, skin can become greasy when picked over-mature.
As the commercial apple harvest gets seriously under way, The English Apple Man looks at growing your own.
It may not be possible to compete with the commercial grower on price and availability, but the joy of picking from your own tree and eating your own apples is unbeatable!
By the end of next week many growers will be picking Cox and Gala for 'long term storage'
What do we mean by long term?
The practice of storing apples until February/March was how we labelled, long term for many years.
As storage science improved, Cox crept into April and for marketing purposes that was ideal, with the arrival of Cox from New Zealand, followed by NZ Gala soon after.
British Gala was not considered suitable for marketing much beyond February in the early years of 'home grown' production, but as volumes built up and nutritional and storage sciences developed, Gala has been stored and marketed into early summer May/June.
Over the course of the last 2-3 years with the aid of DCA (Dynamic Controlled Atmosphere) storage and a better selection of fruit with the optimum 'dry matter content' - storage potential has extended, British Gala has been successfully stored into August when the first of home grown 'New Season' apples become available.
The Gala Club over the last 25 years has been instrumental in developing growing & storage practices, Gala clone advancement and public awareness, all of which has taken the variety from a minor one back in the 1990's to the 'number one apple' grown by British growers today.
In 2019 the Gala Club committee decided the formality of a Gala Club and annual pre-harvest meeting was no longer required. However elements of pre-harvest technical advice would now be undertaken by EKFS with the Gala Club integrated into the East Kent Fruit Society.
As Gala harvest approaches, forecasting optimum harvest dates is becoming more refined.
Below: Mark Tulley
The tried and tested process monitors starch levels, fruit firmness and brix (sugars) but Mark Tulley and his team at Landseer have been trialling Chlorophyll degradation as an early indicator of harvest date.
Landseer have been developing this process since 2012. Monitoring the chlorophyll degradation by measuring the fluorescence, Mark and his team have developed a hand held tool for measuring the fluorescence level indicating the degradation.
The benefit of using chlorophyll degradation over the current system is a circa 7 day forewarning of the optimum harvest date. Current science using starch reduction as the prime indicator is accurate but does not give growers 'an early warning'
The annual East Kent Fruit Society (EKFS) orchard competition normally celebrates with a walk around the winning orchard. With COVID-19 still causing havoc, like so many annual events, the 2020 orchard walk has been cancelled and replaced with a 'Virtual Orchard Walk'
The Chair and EKFS organising committee announced this year's event.
"The winner of the Top Fruit Orchard Competition this year is A C Hulme and Sons with a Braeburn orchard at Brook Farm.
The orchard that came second overall is a Pear orchard, also at Brook Farm and it will be interesting to see the two as part of the virtual walk.
There will be a virtual walk of the winning top fruit orchard on Zoom from 5.30 pm".
2020 has been a year of extremes, but there are some great stories to tell!
The new apple season is with us: our first dessert apple, Discovery is available and if not already on Supermarket shelves, it will be in the next few days.
Cherries are still available in Supermarkets - The EAM bought some 'Regina' in Tesco grown by Angus Davison in Hereford - a delicious variety!
English Apricots have been enthusiastically received as a 'testimonial from a consumer' demonstrates beautifully!
As the new season apples come on line, home grown 2019 season Gala and Kentish Kiss (Magic Star) offer great visual and eating value.
The variety Magic Star is marketed in Tesco under the name of Kentish Kiss!
As I write this week's Journal, my subject seems very appropriate. On my family tree in the garden (Discovery, James Grieve & Red Devil) the early season is accelerating with the hot weather. Today in my region (St. Leonards-on-Sea) the temperature is circa 29 degrees C. In other regions much higher.
When temperatures regularly reach 40C traditional (temperate climate) apples struggle to adapt.
While it is rare for UK temperatures to reach much beyond 30C sun scorch can be a problem in most seasons and in Europe in hotter climates sun scorch can be a real problem.
Below: Sun Scorch after 40C + temperatures
The English Apple Man saw apples exposed to 40C+ in Belgium last year and 'only a day or two' of those conditions can cause serious damage.
In countries where temperatures regularly rise above 40C fruit internal condition will suffer as well, so we are looking for apples that stay crisp and juicy during high temperatures and colour up well despite hot nights. Today's 'Bi- coloured apples (Gala, Braeburn et al.) need cold nights and warm days to generate red colour.
The solution; has to be new varieties capable of surviving and flourishing, "as global temperatures continue to rise and regions where summertime temperatures are consistently in the 'high 30 degree C + zone' are experiencing more regular temperatures of 40C +
The world of British Cherries has changed considerably over the last 25 years and 'exponentially' over the last 10 years.
The change from the large cherry trees which bestrode the Garden of England in the 19th century, extending well into the 20th century, started when growers moved from those very tall trees onto smaller trees grown on dwarfing rootstocks. The semi-dwarfing Colt rootstock arrived in 1970's enabling smaller trees, but due to it's characteristic need for adequate winter chill, often (most often) failed to produce a commercially worthwhile crop.
Cherries were always at risk of splitting when rain fell during harvest time, birds which were discouraged by minders wandering through the cherry orchard with shot guns in days gone by, were gradually replaced by 'bird netting'
25 years ago, forward thinking growers erected 'bird nets and plastic covers' over their Colt grown cherries, but not until the emergence of 'dwarfing Gisella rootstocks' which didn't require the level of winter chill and by their nature much more precocious cropping, did the modern cherry industry really take off!
This week The English Apple Man joined fellow members of East Kent Fruit Society for a ZOOM visit to WB Chambers and a SOFT FRUIT VIRTUAL VISIT AT BELKS FARM, OTHAM.
Tim Chambers is the third generation of a family business that started in 1952 and has been head of an ever expanding fruit business since 1990. Under Tim's leadership, WB Chambers has become a large supplier of Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Blueberries and Cherries to leading UK Supermarkets.
In 2019 WB Chambers opened a state of the art prepared fruit packing unit called the Fruitery a £2,000,000
Chambers grow an extensive range of berries, currants and stone fruit and is especially recognized as market leaders in the year-round supply of quality raspberries and blackberries. The company is also a leading player in the supply of blackcurrants, redcurrants, cherries, gooseberries, strawberries, blueberries and rhubarb.
Click on WB Chambers for an in depth look at their business.
We are now in Wimbledon Fortnight!
No Tennis but plenty of re-runs of past great matches on BBC TV.
Wimbledon and Strawberries are synonymous during the All England Championships.
Strawberries have been a part of ancient Europe since time immemorial, as they were mostly consumed to help with labour pains and help prevent bad breath.
Legend has it that Thomas Wolsey first served the combination of strawberries and cream back in 1509 in a banquet.
Cream was a part of the diet of the peasants, not the aristocrats, and strawberries and cream can be seen as amalgamation that brought together the rich and the poor.
For the last 27 years, Wimbledon strawberries have been 'exclusively' supplied by Marion Regan and Hugh Lowe Farms.
This summers has delivered a mix of hot dry periods and some rainfall. Some of the rainfall has been accompanied by hail which has caused serious damage on some farms/areas. Although blossom time was generally dry and sunny, there were occasional frosts in some areas.
This week The English Apple Man attempts to update the state of our home grown orchards with the help of his friendly agronomists.
The weather these last few days has been very warm and The English Apple Man has been feeling it. Taking a step outside into our garden after lunch it has felt like an oven!
Ensuring our garden plants have enough water means spending half an hour before supper watering the most needy plants, in particular the hanging baskets which dry out so quickly and if not looked after never full recover.
So when deciding what to write about this week, my thoughts turned to our British growers and the apple and pear orchards suffering in this heat.
What triggered me targeting 'irrigation technology' as the subject of this week's Journal?
While checking LINKEDIN for stories of interest earlier this week I came across Antony Yousefian Ag-Tech Director of BARDSLEY ENGLAND talking about Phytech technology in operation in their apple orchards.
Magic Star apples and new season English cherries feature in this week's Journal.
From time to time we all lose friends, an increasingly familiar event for those of us in our dotage.
Last week we lost Clive Edmed who has been growing fruit and hops for many years at Hayle Farm, Horsmonden.
Hayle Farm is situated in a tranquil valley in the Weald of Kent between the small village of Horsmonden and the Sussex border. The area is known as "The Garden of England" and is designated an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty"
Clive Edmed has farmed here for over 39 years and in the last 25 years has been joined by his son, Richard, making at least 5 generations of hop growers.
This week The English Apple Man took a walk in some apple orchards for the first time since before the Coronavirus lockdown.
I am very grateful to my Agronomist friends who have been sending me pictures and information over the last few weeks. I will still be drawing on their technical knowledge in future weeks, but it was nice to get in an orchard myself again!
With tracing apps in the news, The English Apple Man investigates a new App designed to assist fruit growers manage orchard management and improve product profitability.
BIFGA TECHNICAL DAY - THURSDAY 23rd JANUARY 2020
Over 90 people attended the highly successful 32nd BIFGA Technical Day, held on Thursday 23rd January 2020, at Dale Hill Conference Centre, and there I met Kaye Hope of FARMABLE.
Hey! I'm Kaye, the Commercial Lead for Farmable. I spend most of my time talking with growers to better understand how they use technology today and what their needs are for better software in the future. As a Canadian living in Norway, I love speaking with farms from around the world and finding the common threads - it's incredible how similar we are despite the distances that separate us.
Kaye Hope reviews the rapid development of FARMABLE over the last few months.
"This is our first season with the Farmable app in the UK and we have had 35 British farms register and start using Farmable over the past couple months. 8 of these 35 are committed pilot farms who we have regular contact with to get product feedback, but we are happy to grow this number. The most important work we do as a software team is to work closely with growers and agronomists to check and double check that we are building something user-friendly and valuable to their daily work".
The most important work we do as a software team is to work closely with growers and agronomists to check and double check that we are building something user-friendly and valuable to their daily work".
It is at this time of the year when growers and agronomists are assessing the potential fruit set and prospects for this season's apple and pear crops.
In 'days gone by' when trees were much larger and the fruitlets were hidden by leaves, the wise old sages would proclaim: "best go away and come back after Derby Day" - it was amazing how trees which appeared to carry very few fruitlets, changed and by early June (Derby Day) many a grower would say "where did they all come from?
In today's orchards where trees are small and fruitlets are almost ALL visible soon after blossom develops into tiny fruits, assessment is much easier. Of course it does not necessarily turn into a full crop - previous weather events may influence a heavier than natural 'drop' (we always called this the June Drop) but it is usually late June/ early July before the natural thinning takes place.
So growers and agronomists must decide the action required to enhance the final crop yield and quality!
Who would have thought this time last year that we would be living in a virtual world?
Facetime, What's app, Zoom, etc.
Last year and every year before, going back many years, The British Independent Fruit Growers Association (BIFGA) have held a Spring Farm Walk. This year COVID -19 put a stop to that!
But BIFGA Chairman (and founder) John Breach suggested to his committee a 'Virtual Farm Walk'
Last week we had a bout of Nostalgia - this week we will look ahead to the changes in Fresh Produce supply in the wake of COVID - 19.
But first let us remember the 75th Anniversary of the end of the last 'major' challenge faced by our Nation.
Today is VE Day - the anniversary of the 'official end' to World War 2 in Europe, when the defeat by the allied armies saw the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8th May 1945.
In these difficult times, and with time on our hands in 'lockdown' looking back over the life we have led, especially for us 'senior citizens' brings many nostalgic times to the forefront our minds.
Below: Dan The Apple Man
Throughout my life, I have been very lucky to meet and get to know many of the great characters of our fruit industry and by coincidence last week I stumbled on a 'Linkedin' post by one of those characters.
So today I reminisce back to the days of my youth, when life was simpler and Coronavirus was just an idea in a science fiction writer's head!!!!
The COVID-19 Pandemic dominates our lives and anything else seems trivial in the face of the challenge faced by us all and particularly for those families who have lost loved ones in the most tragic circumstances
In our orchards and gardens, the many species in blossom is of some comfort for those of us in lockdown.
Below: left; Cox apples in full bloom on 22nd April in Herefordshire and right; Bladon Pippin in the EAM's Garden today 24th April
Over the last 50 years, the average blossom time has progressively come earlier and earlier. The blossom time varies from year to year, sometimes very early and sometimes not so early, but over time the average blossom time has advanced by circa 14 days.
Finding the right subject to write about is difficult, the world we are living in is a surreal one and previous everyday subjects pale in significance as the desperate battle for lives continues in hospitals and care homes across the nation.
With many fruiting and ornamental trees in blossom, The English Apple Man shares pictures sent in by Agronomists 'crop walking' in our grower's orchards and a few selected from my own garden.
This last few days have been devastating for so many families as loved ones fight this evil Pandemic.
We can only follow scientific advice and hope this will eventually get us over the current 'very scary' situation.
A small comfort has been the beautiful sunshine of late, however that is a blessing for those of us with a garden but of not much solace to those trapped in a flat.
The Sunshine has brought the bees out, here pollinating pear blossom.
Each day brings an escalation of sad news as the COVID-19 virus takes an increasing hold on our Nation. Every fatal statistic is heartbreaking for families and those in close relationship with a loved one. As a couple of 'old fogies,' my wife and I stick to the rules of self-isolation, but the mental tension is one of the hardest emotions to keep under control!
To all EAM readers STAY SAFE
During the coronavirus crisis, many people will sadly be out of work. In last week's Journal, we identified BARDSLEY ENGLAND as an opportunity for employment in the West Kent area. In conversation with Ben Bardsley today, he is delighted with the response. At this moment in time, Bardsley has no vacancies. but as the season develops more vacancies should become available.
We also identified ANGUS GROWERS
One of the jobs opportunity websites is: BRITISH SUMMER FRUITS Once opened, click on the location map to view individual grower details.
This is a time of unprecedented anxiety for our nation, and many more throughout the world. One only has to look at twitter and LinkedIn to understand the plethora of opinions - many very positive and sadly some very negative!
As a pair of old fogies, my wife and I have been the recipients of offers of help: shopping etc. and this kindness to neighbours is a countrywide demonstration of all the good and caring members of society!
Sadly some through selfishness and/or ignorance have performed stupid and in some cases disgusting acts against the very people trying their best to help them. One story of six ambulances in East Kent, where some idiot drilled holes in the tyres, beggars belief.
Joining our neighbours clapping our wonderful and brave NHS workers last night, demonstrated the appreciation felt my most of the population for their sterling effort on our behalf.
At this time of the year, The English Apple Man would normally be concentrating on the development of the new apple and pear season!
At this moment in time, the season is circa 10-12 days earlier than the long term average. Talking to a grower friend today he started spraying for apple scab 10 days earlier than last year.
However, with Coronavirus dominating our minds and every day bringing a greater level of anxiety, I have found it difficult to think about anything else!
Just two weeks ago I was at an Awards Dinner mixing with friends, with no real concern for what would become an exponential upward curve towards the most challenging period in our lives since World War 2.
The AHDB Tree fruit day held at NIAB/EMR on Thursday 27th February covered many subjects but fighting Bacterial Canker in Cherries in particular resonated with The English Apple Man.
The possibility of bacteriophages as a means of combatting canker is the latest area of research by NIAB/EMR scientists working on AHDB projects.
The British top fruit (Apples & Pears) season still has some months to go, but 'down under' New Season New Zealand apples are on their way"
The English Apple Man attended the Taste of Kent Awards on Thursday and today Friday with Marden Fruit Show colleagues, spent the morning tasting and judging apple, pear and other juices for the annual Fruit Juice Competition.
It's funny how things work out, but we spent last weekend in Wiltshire celebrating my brother's birthday and on Tuesday visited good friends for lunch, which featured the hostess's fabulous Pavlova.
Below: Tracy (right) and her assistant Lisa preparing our weekend of culinary delights!
On Thursday, The AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) held their Annual 'Tree Fruit Day' at NIAB/EMR.
This event is always a very educational occasion, as research scientists update the attendees on AHDB projects.
The English Apple Man will feature The Tree Fruit Day in next week's Journal on 6th March.
It matters not what we grow, delivering critical nutrients is essential for maximising performance.
At the BIFGA Technical Day, John Keyte from YARA identified critical elements in nutrients for growing apples.
The UK government has introduced new legislation which ensures that farming subsidies will continue to be paid to UK farmers for 2020.
The 9th January saw the governments first step to 'provide continuity for farmers and ensure subsidies are paid this year', post-Brexit, by putting forward the Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) (DPLC) Bill.
This confirms that farmers should expect to receive similar levels of funding for direct payments in 2020 as what was received for 2019. The Bill for 2020's direct payments at least provides some financial and legislative certainty for the next year.
With the new Agriculture, Bill understood to move away from 'direct payments' in favour of environmental measures perceived as 'public goods'.
This legislation holds a funding package of £2.852 billion for 2020, which will be administered by governments across the UK and is to be implemented in time for our withdrawal from the EU.
At the BIFGA Technical Day in January, Dr. Lucas Shuttleworth from NIAB/EMR presented an update on Canker research.
Below: Dr. Lucas Shuttleworth and right: a severe canker infection/wound and Spores
Today we officially leave the EU and some will celebrate while others are aghast at the prospect. There is still a long way to go and this year 'Boris and his band' must achieve so much to bring the Leave/Remain factions back into a united Great Britain!
This week The English Apple Man covers one of the presentations at this year's BIFGA Technical Day. More presentations will be covered in the coming weeks!
What a week!
The 2020 East Kent Fruit Society AGM Dinner and Orchard Competition Trophy Presentations, held at Boughton Golf Club (near Faversham )
The 2020 BIFGA Technical Day held at Dale Hill Golf Club & Hotel
What does The English Apple Man have on his mind?
With the weather, primarily dull and dreary, days still short of daylight hours, do you find it hard to engender enthusiasm?
As a New Year and a New Decade begin, The English Apple Man looks forward to the coming year.
As we draw to the end of 2019 and 2020 beckons, The English Apple Man looks back at some of the highlights of the past year.
One of the most memorable events this year was the recognition of my dear friend Roger Worraker when he received the Presidents Award on his 90th Birthday at the Marden Fruit Show AGM from MFS President Michael Jack.
Below: Michael Jack, Roger Worraker & MFS Chair Sarah Calcutt
Click on Roger Worraker People Profile to read the story of Roger's life story!
With five days to go, we are busy stocking up with Christmas goodies
As Christmas approaches there will be the prospect of temptation to eat many tasty, but not necessarily healthy foods. Crisps and snacks loaded with salt and sugar at the top of the temptation list!
BUT thanks to a truly inspirational entrepreneur a fantastic selection of healthy and tasty crisps bring the opportunity to satisfy the taste buds without consuming salt & fat.
Today Friday 13th December is Lucky for some and Unlucky for others!
Many will be surprised by the level of swing away from the Labour party; The Conservative Government are in a strong Parliamentary position, but MUST follow up the faith of (former) traditional Labour constituencies by delivering support for their dreams of a better life!
Mr Johnson later told jubilant aides in Conservative HQ: "We must understand now what an earthquake we have created.
"The way in which we have changed the political map of this country.
"We have to grapple with the consequences of that, we have to change our own party, we have to rise to the level of events, we must, we must answer the challenge that the British people have given us."
In last week's Journal The English Apple Man relayed news form 'down under' and this week we take a look at some interesting news from apple growers in USA.
The English Apple Man's thought pattern has been deflected this last 10 days by 'investigative' hospital visits.
This week's Journal will be a bit 'off track'
As November draws to an end, The English Apple Man visits Supermarkets to see what apples & pears are on offer!
This week visits to ASDA, TESCO, SAINSBURYS and JEMPSON'S OF PEASMARSH.
The seemingly inevitable drive towards bigger businesses via amalgamation, take-overs or sometimes organic growth is not confined to manufacturing or service industries.
This week The English Apple Man compares rationalisation in the USA and UK apple industries. Also is there a lasting place for the small volume producer.
Sorry to my readers who sign in on a Saturday morning! A rather long Journal this week covering a fantastic event for my young friends - The NextGen Fruit Group at which The English Apple Man was privileged to attend.
For more than 50 years, The Under40's Fruit Group has brought young people in the British fruit industry together on a biennial basis for a Conference with the objective of building new friendships, learning new growing and management techniques: until 2015 these Conferences were held in various countries, but always in the Northern Hemisphere.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary, The 2017 Under 40's committee led by Chairman Charlie Dunn 'broke the mould' and organised the first Conference in the Southern Hemisphere in South Africa.
In 2019 the committee led by Chair Emily Cliff set off for Chile and when the 2021 committee took over the reins, a desire to take the U40's format onto a new level was born!
The 2109 National Fruit Show was held at The Kent Event Centre on Wednesday 23rd October. This the 86th anniversary event.
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.
This week The 86th National Fruit Show (NFS) took place at the Kent Event Centre.
The English Apple Man was involved on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday!
On Tuesday morning Judging the NFS 2019 show fruit with fellow judges.
On Tuesday afternoon a visit to Friday Street Farm in Kent to take pictures of Magic Star apples at point of harvesting.
On Wednesday morning the EAM was a Judge in the NFS tastiest apple competition.
On Thursday morning the EAM was a judge in the Taste of Kent Apple & Pear competitions.
On Friday The NextGen Fruit Group invited delegates to two major soft fruit growing and packing businesses.
On Friday evening (as I write) The English Apple Man is feeling very tired - hence the Journal this week is light on written content!
All elements will be featured in EAM Journals in the next few weeks!
Today: Friday 18th October The English Apple Man met Vikram Singh Thakur (a friend) and Rob Saunders from Hutchinson's of Wisbech to view an experimental tree management system trials named HELIOS
Each country producing apples & pears can easily become 'blinkered' about the problems facing profitability, if we become less insular and look further afield we find fruit growers face pretty much the same set of challenges globally!
In the space of a month we have seen harvesting of Zari, Red Windsor, Estivale, Worcester Pearmain, Cox, Spartan, Egremont Russet, Gala, Rubens, et al.
Cameo, Braeburn and Jazz are next in line.
Last Saturday The English Apple Man visited Horsmonden Social Club where Horsmonden Nostalgia Group presented a display of nostalgia featuring farming and associated activities in the Parish of Horsmonden in Kent.
Nostalgia increases with age, so I am perfectly placed to suffer from bouts of extreme nostalgia.
September is the traditional time for Ploughing Matches which take place across the country. In the South East of England The Weald of Kent & East Kent ploughing societies are well established and well attended.
Click on Weald of Kent Ploughing Match 2019 for an in depth look!
The 2019 apple & pear harvest is now 'full on' and this week British Apples & Pears launched a new 'White Paper' setting out the future of our 'home grown' top fruit.
Foreword by: Executive Chair - Ali Capper
Apples are brilliant. They are convenient to eat, portable, snackable and brimming with health benefits. They meet every need of today's consumers and we at British Apples & Pears are getting much better at telling our story. Our overarching Great British Apples campaign, with the clear 'An Apple A Day' message, has cut through and is here for the long-term.
They are ambitious and forward looking, increasing productivity levels and sharing the challenging target of increasing market share of British apples to 60% by 2030. To put that in context, we are at 42% now and up from 23% in 2003. In addition, over the last 10 years the British pear market share has grown in volume by 27%.
We danced until the night became a brand new day
Two lovers playing scenes from some romantic play
September morning still can make me feel that way
Thanks to Neil Diamond
It's all happening. Bramley cooking apples for fresh market have been going for a couple of weeks and now Bramley is being picked for long term storage.
Some early picking of Conference pears has started and data supports harvest for long term storage next week.
Discovery has been harvested and the first Red Windsor are ready to occupy Supermarket shelves.
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.