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Irish apple production up 100% this season

This season brought a bumper harvest for Irish apple growers. With an early spring and good weather this Autumn, production is reported to have doubled. In a normal year, only around 5% of the apples on the market are from domestic production, making Ireland a big market for imports.

Most of Ireland's apples are grown in the South and SE region of Ireland, due to its milder climate and lower rainfall. Commercial apple production is spread out in equal amounts of acreage for cider, culinary and eating apples, on approximately 700 hectares. Con Traas, from The Apple Farm in Tipperary, estimates that production (excluding cider fruit) will total between 12-15,000 tonnes this year, with all three categories seeing an increase, with good colour and high quality.

"It is interesting because we have noticed that Irish springs have been starting a lot earlier than two decades ago. It has plus and minus points because an early spring brings early blooming, putting the trees more at risk for frost damage during the delicate period. The bright weather this Autumn, meant that we had slightly higher temperatures during the day, but also brought colder night temperatures, which, when combined, gave great colour" shared Con.

Bramley is the most common type of cooking apple grown in Ireland. For eating apples, the domestic varieties grown are primarily Elstar, Jonagold, Jonagored (most popular) Red Prince as well as some Cox's Orange Pippin.

"The biggest selling apple in Ireland is Gala, which unfortunately is not suited for growing in the Irish climate. However, if you were to ask consumers to name a type of apple, they would most likely say Pink Lady, but I think that this is due to all the marketing behind the apple through television and radio advertising." said Con.

Currently without a combined sales organisation, Con said that he, along with other growers in the Irish Apple Growers Association, are looking into co-ordinated marketing, especially with the current increase in production. At the moment, individual growers are selling directly to chains of multiples.

"We are hoping to be involved in market research with Bord Bia this Autumn as a group to try and focus on what we might be able to do together down the line. The need for it becomes more obvious, especially during seasons like this one. Irish growers are a very small part of the overall apple market and there is no need to be directly competing with each other. There is enough room in the market for all of us to produce more apples and market them in a way which will not affect the next guy adversely." said Con.

There is a much stronger awareness of buying locally in recent years, especially for produce like apples, tomatoes, strawberries and potatoes, when consumers know that they can be grown domestically and feel that they should be Irish grown.

For more information:
Conn Traas
The Apple Farm
Tel: +353 52 7441459
Fax: +353 52 7442774