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The English Apple Man


3rd Nov 2023 - The English Apple Man visits the 90th Anniversary National Fruit Show

It's showtime!


On Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd November The National Fruit Show celebrated the 90th Anniversary of a show which began back in 1933 as The Marden Fruit Show


Below: Minette Batters, Sarah Calcutt & John Guest


Opening the show, NFU President Minette Batters who is retiring after a five year period.


Minette was presented with The Jon Jones Award for ' a notable contribution to the fruit industry by 'John Guest Winner in 2022' and Honorary Chair Sarah Calcutt


Elected as president in February 2018. Minette is also an ambassador of Farm Africa and was made a Deputy Lieutenant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2021.


This was Minette's third visit to The National Fruit Show and as she prepares to retire from The NFU Presidency it was appropriate that Sarah also retires after an equally successfully long term as Chair of The National Fruit Show.


NFU President - Minette Batters


Sarah Calcutt is stepping down after this year's show to concentrate on her role as chief executive at City Harvest. "I have loved my 14 years in the chair," she said. "It's been an absolute honour in every way, my privilege to lead this organisation and I will treasure every moment.


"I leave it in safe hands with a good structure and an excellent team, fit for a strong future doing what it has always done best - shouting about the very best of the British fruit industry."


NFS also has a new president this year, with Catherine Paice replacing Teresa Wickham, while Sally Flanagan has become the first chief executive at organiser Marden Fruit Show Society.





Below: 90 years of Nostalgia



The English Apple Man Comments


After a difficult summer with periods of 'alternating' exceptional wet and dry weather, a dodgy spring and the influence of a 'bumper crop' last year, yield is well down on 2022. However the late summer sunshine boost has delivered vintage flavour, with higher sugars and juicy texture.



Over the two days, the show attendance varied, 'not many growers' on day one, but much better attendance on the second day. When the show committee put in so much effort and the 'support industry' - aka suppliers of everything from sophisticated machinery down to industry services including financial expertise, it is disappointing. But with the later varieties still being harvested and the pressure of Supermarkets 'dragging their feet' over paying anything close to a 'sustainable price' for the high quality 'home grown fruit' supplied to them, it is not surprising some may decide to stay at home!


Below: 'Show Princesses' - Charnee Butcher and Katie Langridge pictured in 2021


The show fruit was as always superb, a testimony to the grower and to the family or staff member who diligently prepares the exhibits. The fruit on the trees must be of good quality, but the skill of he exhibitor is often acquired over many years!


The Bardsley family are serial winners, especially with Bramleyl apples. The skills were honed by Nigel Bardsley's mother who gathered her family at August Bank Holiday to pick perfect Bramley, store hem away and revisit the sample near to the show and reselect near perfect exhibits. Following on from her mother-in-law Annette embraced the 'mantle' and became the 'Show Queen'


Another perennial exhibitor is David Banfield who prepared his last exhibits this year at the age of 90 years This art is now being assumed by some young exhibitors, like KATIE LANGRIDGE and CHARNEE BUTCHER





The Best in Show went to Jazz apples grown by AJ Bray, while the best Bramley was won by Bardsley Horticulture. Best Cox went to Claygate Farm, Mallions Farm won Best Gala and AC Goatham picked up Best Braeburn. Best Pear went to Concorde, grown by Clive Baxter.


Below: left. AJ Bray (John) 'Best in Show' exhibit and right. Judges Scorecard



Below: left. John Bray receives the 'Best in Show Award' from President Catherine Paice and right. David Banfield is a winner in his 90's



Always a prestigious Class to win, The Tastiest Apple competition is sponsored by The Fruit Grower, while The Tastiest Pear is sponsored by NFU Marden


Below:The Tastiest Apple & Pear Judges spare a moment for my camera


L-R: Terry Burton, Diana Burton, Wendy Johnson, Stuart Guest, Xanthe Clay, Peter Checkley.



Below: left. Simon Bray winner of Tastiest Apple with Catherine Paice and Sarah Calcutt and right. Jazz the Tastiest Apple



Below: left. The Soft Fruit Judges at work and right. Soft Fruit entries awaiting the Judges verdict



Below: Nigel Barden with Catherine and Sarah


Sarah Calcutt said "This year we are delighted to

be joined by Nigel Barden who will be the host for our talks and celebratory dinner.



"Nigel is no stranger to the show, as he has also been a judge for our cider competition and he will once again

be joining drinks expert Melissa Cole to judge this year's entries.


Nigel Barden is a food and drink broadcaster, who works on the Simon Mayo Drivetime Show on

Greatest Hits Radio and previously on Scala Radio.







New varieties


One new variety striving to become part of the 'establishment' is KISSABEL which is a Brand name for three apples each with maginally different characteristics


Below: On the left an earlier strain, in the middle a Red strain and on the right latest of the three. Each has distinctive red colour in the flesh delivering health enhancing antioxidant



Kissabel apple is a brand that identifies different varieties of coloured-flesh apple, from pink to intense red, developed with natural breeding techniques. Kissabel apple has three varieties: Kissabel Rouge, with red skin and flesh and hints of berries; Kissabel Jaune, with yellow skin and pink flesh; and Kissabel Orange, with orange skin and red flesh and a firm, crisp, and acidic taste. Kissabel apple is a refreshing and flavourful apple with a sweet berry taste and a red tint inside


On the John Breach stand where John and his team were celebrating the 55th consecutive appearance at the show, another very new variety offering was TONIK a pink red variety and CANOPY a green apple.


On October 25th, three innovations recently launched by IFO and Dalival were presented near Angers: the two apple varieties Tonik and Canopy and the M200 apple rootstock. Producers, technical advisors and members of the apple industry gathered to find out more about these unique new genetics.





TONIK - A tonic taste all year round


This late-ripening bicolored variety from IFO's breeding programme has an attractive fruit size, a tonic taste and an excellent storage potential in normal cold store. The variety is easy to grow with a productive tree and a good level of tolerance to the main pest and



CANOPY - The scab resistant green apple that challenges Granny


Also issued from IFO's breeding programme, CANOPY has the Rvi6 scab resistance gene and a gene for tolerance to rosy apple aphid. Its harvest date is close to Granny Smith, Its flavour remains acidic, but it is more crispy and aromatic than Granny. Its genetic profile

makes it a good pollinator in most situations.


There is so much more to report on this; The 90th Anniversary National Fruit Show, and in the next Journal I will cover machinery, education, Nigel Barden and Cider, and so much more........


In the meantime please take a look at the National Fruit Show Handbook!


National Fruit Show Handbook 2023



That is all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man