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The good news: they are well worth the wait

British strawberry season delayed due to weather

The British strawberry season has been postponed by two weeks due to a combination of cold weather and reduced sunlight, resulting in a slower development of the fruit. The first significant harvests are now expected at the end of May. Despite the delay, the conditions have allowed for a gradual flowering and ripening process, yielding larger and more flavorful strawberries. Protected under poly-tunnels, the crops have not suffered damage, and the slowed growth has fortified the plants, enabling them to produce larger fruit.

Attributed to the typical British climate, every region in the UK experienced above-average rainfall this winter, marking it as the eighth-wettest on record, as per the Met Office. The spring season continued this trend, with England and Wales receiving over 150% of their average monthly rainfall. Additionally, March saw only 95.2 hours of sunshine, which is 87% of the long-term average, accompanied by colder-than-average temperatures at the month's start.

Despite these challenges, the UK has achieved self-sufficiency in strawberry production throughout the summer, from early May to late October, thanks to advancements in growing techniques. Strawberries, along with other berries, maintain their status as the most popular fruit choice in the UK, capturing 28% of the fruit market share. This popularity has propelled the value of the British berry industry to a record £1.87 billion in year-round retail sales. The British Berry Growers highlight the UK's favorable conditions for berry production, including its temperate climate and leading technology in substrate production and automation, which have contributed to the industry's success and the increasing international demand for British berries.

Nick Marston, chairman of British Berry Growers, commented on the season's delay, stating, "Cold, wet weather and reduced sunlight hours this Spring means that Britain's strawberry crop will arrive later this year. But the good news is that they are well worth the wait. The slower ripening period will allow flavors to develop as the strawberries grow to become particularly large and juicy. It will be a fantastic year for British strawberries." The industry's year-round retail sales in the UK have reached an all-time high of £1.87 billion, emphasizing the economic significance of British berries.


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