The current record-breaking spring sunshine has been great news for UK strawberry growers: 2020 seems to be on track to produce one of the country’s biggest ever crops.
According to Tesco, the sizzling temperatures has led to an estimated 20% rise in production, with the retailer ordering in an extra 300 tonnes of juicy homegrown berries to stock its shelves. Berry buyer Laura Mitchell said the unseasonably warm weather - with the Met Office declaring May the sunniest on record - has resulted in “exceptionally good quality and sweet” fruits, with their sugar levels boosted by the plants enjoying the longer, sunny days.
“The fantastic UK weather and extra sunshine so far this spring has brought on the British strawberries faster than expected, with many growers seeing production 20% higher than normal for this time of year,” she added. Ms Mitchell said increased crops of the quintessentially British treat have been seen across the southern half of England and in Staffordshire, Lancashire and Leicestershire, as well as in Scotland and Wales.
Jeremy Best, from Mitchell Fruit Garden near Newquay, welcomed the current conditions for growing strawberries, but warned that plants could be at risk of shutting down if temperatures were to rise any closer to 30C. And with more people going to local farm shops as a result of the lockdown, his berries are in massive demand. “We’re struggling to keep up,” he told cornwalllive.com.
“But we are definitely happy with the situation. We can sell what we have, and more if we would like to. If the weather continues like this, that’s great for enjoying the outside, but quite sweaty and laborious for working in the tunnels. We start at 6am in a fleece and are down to a t-shirt and shorts by 12 noon.”