| 15.7°C Belfast

Heatwave helps bumper watermelon crop at British farm

Tesco says it has seen a near-20% increase in demand for watermelons so far this year.

Close

Oakley Farms near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire has grown a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons. (Tesco/ PA)

Oakley Farms near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire has grown a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons. (Tesco/ PA)

Oakley Farms near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire has grown a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons. (Tesco/ PA)

A British farm has grown a bumper crop of watermelons in its best ever season, helped by the warmest UK spring on record and the current heatwave.

The 6,000 watermelons grown at Oakley Farms, near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, are larger than normal and the extra heat has helped to increase sweetness.

Grower Nick Molesworth said: “We’ve been producing watermelons for a few years now but this has been the best ever growing season because of the amazing spring we’ve just had and the heatwave we’re enjoying right now.

Close

Oakley Farms near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire has grown a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons. (Tesco/ PA)

Oakley Farms near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire has grown a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons. (Tesco/ PA)

Oakley Farms near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire has grown a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons. (Tesco/ PA)

“We did plant more seeds this spring but that is no guarantee for the number of watermelons you’ll get growing on each plant.

“This year the fantastic spring warmth helped the seeds germinate and also develop a better root system than ever before, which made the whole plant stronger.”

The watermelons will go on sale at Tesco stores this weekend.

James Cackett, Tesco fruit technical manager and melon expert, has spent the last 15 years working with seed houses and British growers on developing varieties that are right for the UK climate and soil.

“Watermelons are still considered an exotic fruit that many people associate with palm trees and tropical island paradises rather than the British countryside,” he said.

Close

Melon harvesting supervisor Paul Mondey picking the watermelons, which have grown larger than normal due to the heat. (Tesco/ PA)

Melon harvesting supervisor Paul Mondey picking the watermelons, which have grown larger than normal due to the heat. (Tesco/ PA)

Melon harvesting supervisor Paul Mondey picking the watermelons, which have grown larger than normal due to the heat. (Tesco/ PA)

“But the quality of these UK-grown watermelons is so good that shoppers will not be able to taste the difference from the imported ones we get from Spain.

“This year the great weather over the last four months has brought about a more consistent quality than we’ve ever had before.”

The supermarket chain said it had seen a near-20% increase in demand for watermelons so far this year.

The Cambridgeshire fruit will go on sale in around 100 Tesco stores and will cost £2.99 each, the same price as the imported variety.

PA