28th June 2019

What’s Appleing in Our Orchards?

Our favourite time of year is fast approaching, in just a couple of months growers will start to hand pick the new season of British apples. But as you munch on an apple a day, have you ever wondered what’s going on in the orchards right now?

Expert Eye

The ‘June drop’ is a natural process when our trees shed excess fruitlets (baby apples). If you have an apple tree in your garden, you might notice fruitlets drop off by themselves. In a commercial British apple orchard, growers will also hand inspect every branch to determine which fruitlets to keep, and which to remove. The process is simple – a flick of the thumb at the stalk (just like a thumbs up) will release the fruitlet. Any that didn’t quite make the cut will be left on the ground to decompose naturally, putting their nutrients back in the soil.

What Causes the June Drop?

Fruit trees often produce more flowers than needed for a full crop. The June drop is a sign of a healthy tree, whilst also ensuring it can sustain all the remaining apples that continue to grow until they are ready to be handpicked at harvest.

If a tree produces too large a crop, it will be under a lot of pressure, since the fruitlets are all competing for the same food and water. The June drop means that only the strongest (and tastiest) survive.

Whatever the Weather

Whilst the recent downpours might have played havoc with barbeque plans, our rain-or-shine weather helps British apples to thrive. The absence of extreme temperatures but adequate rainfall allows fruit to grow slowly and develop a delicious flavour. Plus, many growers store any extra rainfall, keeping some aside for crop irrigation later in the summer.

What’s Next?

Next month, it’s time for some varieties to get their summer hair cut! July marks the start of our growers pruning a few leafy branches to make space for the perfect Great British apples to grow and catch a few rays.

So, for now, try to ride out the rainfall and hold tight for the start of the fantastic British apple season. It’s worth the wait…

This image is of hail netting protecting a young orchard, hail is incredibly damaging for apples and pears, every grower has their fingers crossed when a storm starts rumbling

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