Biggest crop in a decade for British cherry growers

More and more British growers are enjoying better yields and this year has seen the biggest crop in a decade bear fruit.

Using a new technique of grafting dwarf root stock, to new tree varieties means growers can produce smaller trees which can be grown in plastic tunnels, creating a microclimate with temperatures similar to the Mediterranean. Picking can then be done on foot rather than by using ladders.

Jordon Watson, Tesco's cherry buyer said: “Not only is the industry back on track after a long hiatus, but the quality of the fruit this year is first-class with soft flesh, ripe with juice and an unrivalled sweetness and taste.”

“British cherry growers are continuing to innovate and invest in new varieties and techniques every year to increase the reliability of the once incredibly volatile crop,” explained Matt Hancock, the chair of Love Fresh Cherries, “meaning growers can adapt better to often unpredictable weather in the UK.”

Sarah Neaves, whose family farm supplies Tesco with cherries, said of the new technique: “Over the last 10 years we have planted approximately 40,000 and, coupled with polytunnels to protect the orchard, this has revolutionised our farm.”

David Matchett, head of food policy at Borough Market, said: “Cherry is the quintessential English stone fruit, however its short season means that most folks’ experience of it will be from an eastern European variety, which has been frozen, preserved, glacéed or concentrated.

“This is missing out on one of nature’s finest flavours. If life is a bowl of cherries, then these would have been hand-picked that morning from a Kent orchard.”