Record UK apricot crop hits shelves

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Michael Barker

BY MICHAEL BARKER

@michaelbarker

Record UK apricot crop hits shelves

Perfect growing conditions offers a boost to fledgling UK industry, with Tesco backing the home-grown fruit

Record UK apricot crop hits shelves

Grower Nigel Bardsley

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Tesco is promising a record English apricot crop this summer.

In the latest in a series of announcements detailing bumper crops as a result of the warm summer weather, Tesco said a record 180 tonnes of the stonefruit will be grown in the UK this year. Product will be hitting the supermarket's shelves this week.

Apricots are traditionally grown in countries like Spain, France, Morocco, Turkey and Iran, where warm summers, cold winters and the absence of spring frost makes production ideal.

UK production is focused on the southern counties, with growers based in Kent or the Isle of Wight, but the industry is still in its infancy. The arrival on the market of apricot cultivars or tree hybrids bred especially for climates like the UK’s, which would flower later in the spring, have made English apricot production possible, and the number of UK producers commercially growing apricots has doubled in recent years to eight. 

It comes as demand for apricots has risen by 75 per cent in the past year, according to Tesco. “Apricots are fast becoming one of the summer fruits of choice across the UK," said stonefruit buyer Karen Bee. "Bursting with flavour, our English apricots are really sweet, have a beautiful orange blush and are firm yet juicy – everything that a classic apricot should be.

“The English variety are every bit as good as imported apricots and joins the ranks of British strawberries, cherries, apples and pears as some of the best-quality and tasting fruit grown in the world. The arrival of great-quality English apricots over the last few years has helped to invigorate the demand for this stonefruit.”

Tesco supplier Nigel Bardsley, of Bardsley Farms in Kent, added: “This year we have had pretty much perfect growing conditions with a cool winter needed to allow the trees to rest, a warm spring and lots of summer sunshine with a bit of rain in between.”

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