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The English Apple Man


14th Apr 2023 - Everything is on the move!

The season is a bit later than last year, but all fruit trees are now on the move!


Most dessert apples are at the Green Cluster stage with the odd variety at Early Pink Bud. Pears are at the White Bud Stage.


Looking back to 2021 and 2022 demonstrates the lateness of this season, however this can all change very quickly.


Pictures are from The English Apple Man's garden


In 2022 blossom erupted by this date following a warm spell of weather!!!


Click on 15 April 2022 Journal

Now in 2023 the James Grieve bud development resembles the same stage at mid April 2021.


16th April 2021 - 15th April 2022 - 14th April 2023



The Red Windsor tends to advance more quickly than the James Grieve


Below: Red Windsor - left. 15th April 2022 and right. 14th April 2023



Below: left. Today 14th April 2023 Red Windsor tree and right. 'Family Tree' with Discovery, Red Devil and James Grieve



The weather is forecast to warm up in the coming week, however it does not suggest an 'explosion' of blossom. Most probably a gradual progression with Full Bloom sometime during the last week of April!




NFU president Minette Batters highlights concerns at the lack of scientific rigour behind the government's ELM schemes for England. "As I said in my 2023 Annual Edith Mary Gayton lecture at Reading University, I am increasingly concerned at the lack of scientific rigour or pressure-testing that has gone into the development of the government's Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS).


"ELMS, and the Sustainable Farming Incentive, are part of what is, after all, the most significant shift in domestic agricultural policy for more than 40 years. These schemes must be grounded in sound science, not on hope and wishful thinking, if we are to see UK farmers delivering more food, energy, and fibre, with less impact while using fewer resources.


"In stark contrast, a recent article in Farmers Weekly suggested that farmers in England are reducing productive capacity to devote more land to green schemes and diversification under ELMS. That is not the route for a sustainable UK food system, reliant on uncertain imports rather than homegrown.


"With the phased removal of direct support, it is understandable that some farmers will turn to these schemes as a more stable and secure source of income. Farmers should certainly be able to access commercially viable land use options that are complementary to food production and contribute to net zero.


However, I wonder if the government is serious about its commitment in the Food Strategy to 'broadly maintain the current level of food we produce domestically'. How is that target going to be delivered if, in practice, ELMS is rewarding lower-yielding farming systems and even disincentivising productive management practices?


Where is the impact assessment of what ELMS will mean for domestic food production, for consumer prices, and for our dependence on imported supplies? What does the 'sustainable' in Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) actually mean? While some of the SFI standards can support greater productivity, such as soil testing, many actions show no signs of being based on robust understanding of the science. I am not at all convinced government is using the full extent of scientific knowledge available at research centres like NIAB to deliver a system that can genuinely integrate environmental and production benefit on commercial farms.


Alongside the commitment to maintain domestic food production at current levels, Defra asserted in its Health and Harmony White Paper setting out the future direction for agricultural policy in England, that: "There is clear evidence showing that the scope for productivity improvement would enable farms, on average, to remain profitable following a withdrawal of Direct Payments."


Most of the actions being incentivised under SFI just do not seem to be designed to deliver this policy. What message is this sending to farmers? Uncertainty and confusion is not good for any industry, and on-farm measures will not deliver if they are not based on a full understanding of the farming system.



That is all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man