Cider prospects boosted by heatwave

This year’s apple harvest is likely to be larger than 2012’s

The heatwave has brought a “phenomenal” increase in apple growth, say cider producers, who are also enjoying a 40% surge in sales thanks to the good weather.

This year’s apple harvest was likely to be larger than last year’s, said Adrian Barlow of trade body English apples & pears.

The good weather was ripening fruit and helping to reduce the incidence of fungal diseases, he said. It would help balance out the impact of poor weather early in the growing season, which had caused apple trees to shed an abnormally high number of apples after pollination, he added

While the wet start to the year had put the harvest behind by two weeks, Westons sales head Geoff Bradman said he was optimistic about the quality and quantity of this year’s crop.

This week’s downpours - with some parts of the country getting two inches of rain in a few hours - was not likely to cause problems, he added. “If it rains from now on, that won’t be a problem. The biggest danger is late frost and that didn’t happen this year,” he said.

His positive views were echoed by Thatchers MD Martin Thatcher, who described the good weather as “a Godsend”. “The apple trees benefit from warm sun and sales soar when the sun comes out,” he added.

Cider makers were reporting sales hikes of 30% to 40% in the past three to four weeks, said Simon Russell of the National Association of Cider Makers. “This is very good news after two very poor summers.”

Elsewhere in Europe, crops were likely to match those of 2011, although Germany, a large supplier of fruit used for apple concentrate apples, was down according to Barlow.

He added that there was likely to be little effect on “steady” apple prices, as the balance of supply and demand remained good.