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The English Apple Man


17th May 2019 - It's mid May and English apples are still available in UK Supermarkets

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.

A visit to Sainsburys on Monday found Braeburn, Gala, Jazz, Crimson Crisp dessert apples, Bramley cooking apples and Conference pears; these varieties were available in several formats. - loose, polybag, flow wrap and I counted 28 trays of home grown apples & pears on display.


Today (Friday17th) a visit to Tesco in Pembury, Kent The EAM found less home grown apples, but loose Braeburn @ £2.20 kg and Gala grown by Adrian Scripps @ £1.60 x 6 with Braeburn grown by Simon Mount 95p x 6 and small Breaburn (50-60mm) from Rosedene @ 49p x 5. English Bramley culinary apples @ £1.85 kg.


Imported Gala (from Chile) @ £2.20 kg and Pink Lady (from France) @ £2.60 x 6.


In Sainsburys this morning The EAM bought a pack of Crimson Crisp and a pack of ENVY apples.


Below: left; Crimson Crisp and right; ENVY



Looking ahead, home grown Gala should be available for some time; circa mid June and Braeburn into June, while Cameo are coming to an end.


For many years the home grown season ended around the end of March:The extension of the English grown apple season has been made possible by the adoption of better storing varieties, particularly the high volume Gala and Braeburn (number 1 & 2) and the skill of growers with a better understanding of the nutrient and dry matter content (DMC) + the superior storage capabilities. Modern DCA (Dynamic Controlled Atmosphere) is part of the equation which has extended our English season into June. In the future?


With home grown apples still available, The English Apple Man looks ahead to the possibilities of the 2019 crop?


After a brilliant period around Easter when many apple orchards were in bloom, the probability of a good crop took a positive turn; however the colder weather which followed may have upset the 'applecart' as reports of variable fruit set on some varieties adds a note of caution!


Today (Friday) my Red Devil & Discovery (family tree) which was in full bloom over Easter is beginning to sort out what's staying and what's going - I thinned some to speed up the process - bear in mind one or two apples on each bud is enough (maybe even too much)


Gardeners with apple trees in the garden should consider? (no SHOULD!) thin the fruitlets down to 'one or two' per bunch and also ensure a 'hand apart' from each bunch!


Below: left; Red Devil fruitlets and right; Discovery fruitlets which I thinned a week ago to two fruits



Below: left; un-thinned Red Devil Fruitlets and right; the original 5 reduced to 2 which will be mre than enough



Below: Matthew Wilson


On Thursday, taking advantage of the good weather, The English Apple Man ventured into Organic orchards assessing the potential for the 2019 crop' albeit organic, which is always more challenging. My friend Matthew Wilson at Oakwood Farm has been growing apples organically for 20 years and conventionally for many years before then.


When I arrived Matthew was busy pruning the variety Court Pendu Platt.


Court Pendu Plat is old apple variety from France, with a history dating back to the early 1600s and many earlier references. It was popular in Victorian times and still has a small following. Being Scab resistant it is ideal for organic growing, however with a very late flowering nature it is a challenge to match a suitable pollinator.


While Matthew has many varieties at Oakwood, Fiesta produces the most tonnage; Cox, Adams Pearmain, Egremont Russet, Kings Acre Pippin, Discovery, Red Devil, Ashmeads Kernel, Rubin (which is a cross between Lambourne x Golden Delicious) described by Matthew as a 'smashing apple' - both as an eating experience and because it does not overset, setting a couple of apples on each bunch resulting in good fruit size and return bloom in the following year; Rubin also has a longer stalk than a Lambourne and does not go greasy like Lambourne and stores well.


The marketing season at Oakwood continues until late April (most seasons) with Fiesta the last to go.


Below: left; Matthew Wilson who has been growing organically for 20 years, pruning Court Pendu Platt apple trees and right; Court Pendu Platt rows



Below: left; Claygate Pearmain and right; the Claygate Pearmain were 'grafted' onto another variety



Below: left; Concorde Pears growing on Dwarf Pyrus rootstocks and right; young Concorde fruitlets



Below: left; Matthew is experimenting with a 'Palmette' style tree format and right; Fiesta the heaviest cropping variety at Oakwood farm



Any fruit unsuitable for the organic market is made into juice (on farm) and during my visit Matthew's eldest son James was busy bottling Fiesta.


Below: James bottling Fiesta and right; bottled Fiesta in a bin.



Below: Jersey x Sussex Cattle at Oakwood Farm


And finally, the ENVY and Crimson Crisp after tasting!



The Envy and Crimson Crisp both delivered a very good eat; the Envy is sweeter and very juicy and the Crimson Crisp very firm and juicy.



That's all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man