BRITISH STRAWBERRY farmers have enjoyed a bumper crop this year due to the warm autumn weather which has helped them to harvest fruit late into the season.
So far this year 60,170 tonnes of strawberries have been produced, an 8% increase on 2013, and growers are expecting to harvest crops as late as December. According to British Summer Fruits, the trade body that represent the majority of berry producers, the boom is partly down to the high levels of sunshine and low humidity. The warm weather at the start of the year also meant that the growing season started seven weeks earlier in 2013 and lasted 38 weeks – over two-thirds of the year.
The introduction of new farming techniques using polytunnels and glasshouses has also had a part to play in the record-breaking harvest.
Anthony Snell, who runs AJ & CI Snell farm with his wife, Christine in Herefordshire, said: “Thanks to the fantastic growing conditions that we’ve seen throughout the year, we have been able to provide flavoursome, sweet strawberries starting in spring and continuing all the way into mid-autumn.
“We use polytunnels to protect our crops. This crucially meant that the crop and soil were protected throughout the season, so they could grow naturally without any damage.”
Although many British strawberry producers still grow their crops outside, the use of greenhouses had meant that British growers can gain a larger portion of the market. They now provide an estimated 60% of the £800m worth of strawberries bought in the UK.