February can be the most dreary month of the year....but its a good time for going out to lunch...
A quiet week for The English Apple Man on the apple front, but plenty to write about with lunch out on four days out of five...
On Monday The English Apple Man met an old friend for a bowl of soup and crusty bread at The Bull Inn at Three Legged Cross in Ticehurst.
I met Tony on my first visit to Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in their first season after leaving Highbury. I was there with my son for the game against Wigan which we (Arsenal) won by 6-2. Before the game Stuart (my son) and I were enjoying a pint and the standard 'over priced' something and chips when I (as I do) got into conversation with this gentleman, also 'enjoying' if that's the right description, the lunchtime offering; 'Tony' of similar vintage to me, and a lifelong Arsenal fan had traveled up for Hereford to The Emirates (a much longer journey than ours from East Sussex) and 'as you do' we got into conversation. Oh! said I, I have farmer friends down your way! The conversation flowed, Tony new some of my friends; we exchanged contact details and promised to keep in touch, which we did.............
Click on Rise Farm Fownhope for a review of my visit in 2010. Then scroll down to find Rise Farm.
On Tuesday my wife and I popped into The Weald Smokery at Flimwell in East Sussex for a few of their 'goodies' and stopped for a bite to eat in the Brasserie - a superb Club Sandwich each, washed down with a coffee left us full up and decided to cancel supper and manage with cheese & biscuits garnished with an English Concorde Pear, a Peach and Black seedless grapes.........
On Thursday my brother and sister-in-law came down from Windsor to spend a couple of 'Gourmet' lunches with us. Lunch at Webbes @ Rock a Nore - a belated Christmas treat from our Mother....
Friday and we finished the 'Gourmet' lunches @ The Wild Mushroom at Westfield.........this time our (post) Christmas treat to my brother & sister-in-law.....superb meal, ambiance and service. The Wild Mushroom is as good as it gets and though not cheap, it is excellent value for money...
Oh dear! It's Saturday tomorrow and my Slimming World 'weigh in' is scheduled for 8.30am;
Returning to fruit industry matters, The English Apple Man attended the 29th BIFGA Technical Day held at Dale Hill Golf Club. This event has become an important 'knowledge transfer' event and this week's Journal features one of the excellent presentations from the 2017 Technical Day.....
Climate Change - the challenge for Growers!
Climate change is one of the most discussed topics...many see it as a 'man made' influence on our global weather, others see it as a 'natural cyclical' event....either way, we are living with a more volatile weather system, influencing changes in food production. The prognosis forecasts positive, as well as negative affects on climatic change; the only certainty is; 'nobody is certain' of the outcome!
Presented by Chris Atkinson, Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change - Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich
Chris Atkinson explored the reasons for climate change; the mechanism and the need for evidence of climate change.
Recognising the 'Climatic factors is important to growers .
An overview of predicted changes in climate; temperature, radiation, rainfall and their interactions. What are the impacts? Can we predict the future?
Impacts on crop development and yield - Focus on the importance of chilling!
Take home message - Pattern of warm years - what's happened?
What are the likely climate changes?
Findings of UK Climate Projections 2009 for the South East suggest that by 2050:
Winter rainfall is likely to increase by 16% - Summer rainfall likely to decrease by 19%
Winters are likely to be warmer by ~2.2°C - Summers are likely to be hotter by ~2.8°C (water use critical )
The hottest summer days could increase by 3.7°C - Summer night temperatures could increase by 3°C
Climate has changed and will continue to do so - temperatures are increasing!
The extent and rate of change are unclear but there will be further change
Resources, such as water, will need to be used more carefully - there will be less water in South East - WATER USE EFFICIENCY will be critical
These changes will influence the crops we should grow - its an opportunity!
Understanding these impacts is vital - alternatives; 'home and abroad' must be sought for UK Food supply...
We need to understand climate challenges to the food supply chain and need to be proactive..
Understanding the variability is key to the future!
The English Apple Man Comments
Plants need sufficient cold to resume normal spring growth following the winter dormant period. This is commonly referred to as its "chilling requirement." Plant species as well as horticultural varieties vary widely in their winter cold requirement. Fruit trees need 'winter chill' - the warmer winters have led to a less certain level of winter chill. Simplistically, apples in the UK need circa 800-1200 chill units by the end of February to ensure quality flowers at blossom time. Over the last five years, the winter chill has varied enormously, with 2016 just about 'scraping home'
Below: left; Day degree accumulation(amount of chilling Oct to April) - and - right; Pattern of warm years -
Why are we interested in temperature?
Flowering time is highly variable - Predicting flowering date is important - Synchronisation of pollination with pollinators important - Potential to protect against low temperature injury (frost) - Recommendations regarding chemical applications for Pest & Disease - Management of pollinators and pollinisers - Selection of low chill cultivars - Breeding for low chill cultivars; all these elements are integral to future production.
Temperature change - the facts
0.5 to 0.7 degrees C increase in global mean air temp.....
0.13-0.2 degrees C increase air temp per decade....
Deep Ocean temperatures are increasing.....
Increase rate temperature change, next 50 to 100 years quicker than last 100 years
Mean temperature increase of 1.5 degrees C, equivalent to potential northward shift of 50-80 km per decade
Declines in UK winter chill in the south have been quantified
Geographical north south divide
Earlier blossom times (now well corroborated)
Increased blossom spread - implications for cropping quality and pollination
Fewer frost days
Longer growing seasons (early springs and later autumns)
Greater temperature accumulation (maturing early)
Reduced rate of chill completion
Increased rate of heat accumulation
The English Apple Man Comments:
The evidence of climate change is difficult to argue with; 'although many passionately, do' - the extremes of weather 'globally' will undoubtedly cause havoc, our UK weather may well give us the ability to grow more crops previously only possible in a Mediterranean climate. In the world of apples, the most popular and profitable 'global' variety; e.g. Pink Lady, will almost certainly be added to apples grown in the UK!
That's all for this week....
The English Apple Man