Apple growers hoping for post-Brexit vote windfall after 'very good season'
Apple growers hope a late but bountiful season will be met with renewed enthusiasm from consumers wanting to support local producers post Brexit.
The English apple season starts today in earnest, two weeks later than last year in large part because the poor spring weather held blossom growth back.
However producers say the long, hot summer has led to a crop that is full of flavour and juice and fruit that is particularly vibrant in colour because of the high levels of sunlight, particularly over the last few weeks.
English Apples and Pears, which represents producers, said growers would usually have started picking the Cox variety last week, but this year's weather meant that this was delayed until this week or even into next week.
The Gala variety, which will also be picked this week, now outsells Cox - traditionally the apple of choice for Britons - three to one, the group said.
Braeburn is expected to follow in mid to late October.
English Apples and Pears chief executive Steven Munday said: "We're two weeks later than normal, which is primarily weather-related.
"We had a dull, wet spring, which retarded blossom growth, and we tend not to be able to make that up.
"However we hope the lovely hot summer, with plenty of sunlight, will give us great tasting, great coloured and great looking fruit."
He said the consumer trend away towards Gala reflected a changing palate among local consumers, who were turning to sweeter, "cleaner" looking apples.
Mr Munday added that Brexit was expected to have a positive impact on this year's season.
He said: "I think we are expecting to have a very good season this year, helped by Brexit.
"It has helped open people's eyes in relation to British food and producers. Clearly we are going to see some benefit from that this year."
Supermarket Sainsbury's has begun selling this season's English-grown Zari apples, and says fruit is 5% bigger than usual due to the late-season warmth.
Launched in Sainsbury's in 2010, Zari apples are grown exclusively at Shrubbery Farm, an orchard in Kent owned by AC Goatham & Son.