The first of this season's apples were picked in early August at English top fruit grower AC Goatham and Son, this was three weeks later than in a normal year.
"It has been a challenging season and we started the main harvest about 2 weeks behind previous years, however the weather we have had throughout September has been challenging and put us under pressure to keep up with harvest," said Ross Goatham.
"The cold spring and cold wet summer here in the south east of England has been awful this year. We haven’t known a growing season like it in the last 40+ years."
Due to these challenges the total volume is down circa 20% YoY and fruit profiles are larger due to the short crop, the weather has also created in quality issues leading to reduced Class1 when grading.
The estimate for this season year 350m apples. Of the varieties already harvested 30% is Bramley, 35% Cox and 18% Gala.
"The short crop this season has prevented any export opportunities with export prices being far too low."
As is the case across the board in the UK the labour situation is extremely challenging, this is across every area of the business according to Ross and there are no signs of improvement on the horizon without Government intervention.
"We invested £1.5M in packhouse automation in 2021 and to date R&D in harvest automation suggests we could be 5-10 years away from any tangible solutions."
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