Limited volumes of English Discovery should be in supermarkets by this weekend, according to Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples and Pears. "We expect to see a build up after the weekend, but growers are leaving fruit on the tree as long as possible to develop taste."

Discovery is losing favour with producers, who realise it does not compete well with imports of Gala and Pink Lady, and production has shrunk this year to 2,000 tonnes.

But prospects for the main English dessert apple crop still look good, with Cox being picked from around 7 September, Barlow said. He estimated volumes of 45,000 tonnes - nearer the average than last year's 62,000 tonnes. "Some orchards have been getting rain and the cooler nights are still enhancing colour."

There is also good news for Royal Gala, the UK's second most important variety. Initial estimates are at least 22,000 tonnes and possibly exceeding last year's crop.