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 +
Breeding a new apple!
New, superior tasting apples and pears that can thrive in the planet's increasingly warm climate will soon be available to fruit growers worldwide.
T&G Global (formerly Turners & Growers) has joined Plant & Food Research, the Institute of Agriculture and Food Research Technology (IRTA) and Fruit Futur as the exclusive partner for the commercialisation of exciting new apple and pear cultivars, developed in a world-class breeding programme, designed specifically to tackle challenges such as sunburn, colour and firmness associated with a warming global climate.
The Hot Climate Programme (HCP), one of the most exciting global breeding projects, was initiated in 2002 by Plant & Food Research and IRTA to address challenges that were being experienced by Spanish growers, particularly those of the Catalan region, with traditional apple and pear varieties.
Growers have been challenged in hot seasons with increased sunburn, low colour, compromised fruit textures and higher incidence of storage disorders.
It was recognised that other apple and pear growing regions would begin to experience these issues as the global climate continued to change, and that varieties developed for these niche environments would be in increasing demand worldwide.
New Zealand-headquartered T&G Global will commercialize the first new apple variety that is bred to withstand "the world's hottest and driest of conditions".
The apple is the first to be launched from the Hot Climate Programme, a global pan-industry breeding program focused on the long-term sustainability of apple production in a changing climate.
Several new varieties have been identified in the HCP with potential for commercialisation, and the programme partners - including grower group Fruit Futur, who began investing in the programme in 2003 - have selected T&G Global as their preferred partner for managing the commercialisation of the varieties worldwide.
T&G Global has had success in bringing world-leading varieties to international markets including award-winning JAZZ and Envy apples across Europe, US and Asia.
"As climate changes, growers worldwide face a huge challenge from sunburn and colour-development issues with their fruit, to increased pests and diseases which can influence fruit in the orchard and post-harvest," says Sarah McCormack, Director of Category- Apples, from T&G Global.
Peter Landon-Lane, T&G Global's Director Innovation and Technical, says with an increasingly warm climate, new apple varieties need to be developed and commercialized.
"We know the world's climate is changing and consumers will continue to demand tasty, healthy, safe food that is sustainably produced so T&G Global, along with our partners in the Hot Climate Programme, is preparing for this by developing and commercializing apples that are climate-change resistant," says Landon-Lane. "The first variety to be commercialized is 'HOT84A1', which we've successfully trialed in Spain, where temperatures reach more than 40C.
This apple has proven to be sunburn resistant, while retaining excellent eating qualities. It's a red-skinned, juicy, sweet apple, with a great crunch which we know will appeal to consumers.
"By breeding innovative new varieties, like 'HOT84A1', it provides food producers with opportunities to grow apples in regions previously not suitable for production, as well as grow closer to consumer markets. In addition, plants which are bred for a specific set of conditions - such as these for a hot and dry climate - are more resilient and require fewer inputs, such as water and fertilizer, and therefore support efficient and smart production systems."
Initiated in 2002 by Plant & Food Research and the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) and Fruit Futur, an association of the main fruit producers in Catalonia (Actel, Fruits de Ponent, Nufri and Poma de Girona), the Hot Climate Programme develops new apple and pear varieties adapted to high-temperature growing areas.
At this time, growers in Spain, particularly in the Catalan region, had begun to experience issues with traditional varieties - the fruit was increasingly produced with low red coloring, sunburn, soft flesh textures and higher-than-average incidence of storage disorders. It was recognized that other apple and pear producing regions would begin to experience these issues as the global climate continued to change, and that varieties developed for these niche environments would be in increasing demand worldwide.
T&G Global joined as the commercialization partner in February 2019.
T&G Global is leading the program's commercialization and has established a global network of six partners to initially test and commercialize 'HOT84A1'; Waimea Nurseries (in New Zealand), TopFruit (in South Africa), Dalival (in Europe), Worldwide Fruit (in the UK), Montagues (in Australia) and Fruit Futur (in Spain).
Peter Allderman, TopFruit's Pome Fruit Manager says the program is significant for countries like South Africa.
"It's particularly exciting for producers in a country like South Africa, with high temperatures and low water availability which can result in poor fruit color, texture and pressure issues," says Peter. "Combined with increased pest and disease resistance, we believe these varieties will be highly adapted to environmental conditions that are likely to be increasingly faced in countries with hot climates."
Fruit Futur will plant the first commercial volumes of 'HOT84A1' in the Iberian Peninsula in February 2021, and licenses for other parts of the world are expected to follow.
"We want to expand the number of organizations trialing and evaluating the new variety, so we can robustly test it in various global territories. We welcome expressions of interest from growers and marketers worldwide," says Peter.
Click on: Hot Climate Program
The English Apple Man thanks T&G Global for much of the technical content of this article and Worldwide Fruit Ltd Technical Director Tony Harding for his advice.
That is all for this week, I am planning a barbecue for this evening as todays heat, will deliver a perfect evening!
The English Apple Man