Despite our celebration of apple season being in full swing, and the current abundance of wonderful traditional and Sussex varieties in store, it has actually been a pretty disastrous apple season for not only our local growers, but across most of northern Europe in fact.
“2017 has been a most troubling growing season”, says Matthew Wilson of Oakwood Farm, our main supplier of local apples for many years. “Buds burst in early March followed by unseasonally warm weather which brought on some early blossom. All looked well until a series of sharp frosts, the worst of which came on the night 20/21st April. It proved to be the worst for 20 years and left us (and the rest of Europe) with about a 60% crop.”
Matthew continues: “the blossom period following the frost was wet and miserable – the longest and most drawn out that I can can remember. Some varieties of apple have cropped well, some not very well at all.
The extremely hot weather of May and June was good in parts, it enabled the fruit to size up (some eventually to an enormous size) but this also enabled pests to proliferate, leading to a number of quality issues.”
Here at Infinity the apple season is an annual highlight for us as we look forward to all the lovely colours, textures and flavours. The poor and shorter season this year inevitably means the cost of the apples as risen. However we have worked hard to absorb most of this cost to avoid passing on too much of a price rise to customers. Our hardworking local farmers need all our support especially when conditions are tough.
It’s not all bad news though! “Pears on the other hand did very well, having expected the frost to leave us with very little they cropped better than ever” says Matthew. However Mother Nature’s fickle hand means that this has been an exceptionally hard year “The harvest season has been the earliest I can remember and has been equally challenging. All in all a mixed bag. Some highlights, but a crop that is going to run out all too soon.”
But there’s always next year.