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Peak production is underway now and growers are reporting a very good British blueberry harvest

This year’s good crop of blueberries has been boosted by new pollination strategies, according to berry growers.

Blueberry growers were concerned that the sixth wettest July on record would negatively affect the crop, but claimed bumblebee pollination schemes had prevented this.

Peak production is now underway and growers are reporting a very good British blueberry harvest.

“British berry growers have demonstrated remarkable innovation in using pollination plans to create a robust blueberry crop this season that has withstood the unseasonable July weather,” said Nick Marston, chairman of British Berry Growers. “They have managed to grow a good and sweet-tasting crop.”

Growers this year employed schemes to encourage pollinators – with one grower bringing in over 3,000 bumblebee hives – which had resulted in a more stable sector despite the unseasonal weather.

Each week, growers do a weekly crop walk to ensure there are enough bumblebees across farms before making plans to bring in further hives if needed. They are also planting wildflowers adjacent to crops to encourage pollinators.

Bumblebee-pollinated blueberry plants ensure a higher fruit set, better fruit quality and bigger, firmer fruit with more tiny seeds.

“The contribution of bumblebees to our farms has not only strengthened this year’s harvest, but also highlighted the connection between bountiful crops and a thriving ecosystem,” said Marston.

This work had ensured there had been a “very good” harvest this year, with sweeter and larger blueberries, plus better varieties. Cooler weather has seen the fruit ripen slowly, which typically allows more time for sugar to accumulate.

“We’re thrilled to witness the success of this year’s blueberry crop, driven by skilled growers across the country,” said Marston. “Only a few decades ago, at this time of year most blueberries on supermarket shelves were imported, that’s no longer the case.”

According to British Berry Growers, the sector is now worth £1.7bn in retail sales year-round and is estimated to contribute £3.2bn to the UK economy in the next five years.

“This underscores the need to support British growers for the work they do to boost the British economy and the nation’s health,” said Marston.

The strong harvest comes as blueberry prices are down an average of 6% year on year, according to this week’s Key Value Items tracker, with the fruit on promotion last week at Aldi, Asda and Lidl.