Total Produce trials potential of commercial peach crop in UK

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Total Produce has embarked on a trial of white and yellow-flesh peaches in Kent to explore the commercial potential for UK-grown peaches.

The company planted 90 trees in north Kent last week, using three-year-old trees on dwarf rootstock sourced from an Italian propagator. The trees planted include many new varieties from an Italian breeding programme not grown in the UK before.

Total Produce expects the first fruit to be picked next year, with the first true crop harvested in August 2014.

Peach cultivation in the UK is not new but UK-grown peaches have to date been regarded as a luxury rather than a commercially viable crop. However, increasing grower expertise and climate change meant this may change, said Total Produce technical and business director Dr Drew Reynolds. “With the long-term forecast of drier winters and warmer summers, we believe there may be potential for commercialisation.”

Although the long-term prospects for stone fruit cultivation in the UK were strong, growers are concerned high temperatures followed by cold and rain may reduce this year’s harvest.

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