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British Berry Growers said the slow growth built stronger plants, which had the energy to support larger and more flavoursome fruits

Cold and wet weather, coupled with the worst light levels in years, means the British strawberry season will arrive later this season, British Berry Growers has said.

The growers’ group said that despite this the slow growth built stronger plants that had the energy to support larger and more flavoursome fruits.

The first big harvest of the season is forecast for the end of May.

Flowering and ripening of the fruit will occur more gradually due to the weather to create larger and juicier strawberries.

“It will be a fantastic year for British strawberries,” said Nick Marston, chairman of British Berry Growers.

Developments in growing techniques mean that the UK is now self-sufficient in the nation’s favourite fruit for the whole summer season, from early May to late October.

According to the group, there is growing demand for British strawberries around the world, but due to the introduction of new trade barriers exports have dropped by 79% since Brexit.

The decline follows the introduction of new trade barriers, including health certificates and additional paperwork.

Berry shipments to EU ports are now at a greater risk of delays that could affect product quality, which had meant more customers on the continent preferring to import from elsewhere, the group said.

“It is nonsensical that despite having some of the world’s most in-demand berries that we are unable to compete in the global market due to red tape,” said Marston.

“Urgent government reforms are needed that reflect the realities of modern trading. As a nation we must capitalise on this great export opportunity.”