British peaches will hit market stalls for the first time this year because climate change has extended the growing season.
Fruit growers excitedly imported stone fruit trees from the South of France last year, after UK heatwaves made the prospect of ripening nectarines and peaches on British soil seem more likely than ever before.
This is because climate change has slowly increased the vital window of sunshine for ripening and the fruits, originally from the sun-drenched Mediterranean, need a long period of fine weather to grow.
One of Britain's leading fruit and vegetable companies is growing the trees on one of their fruit farms in Kent, and are attempting to achieve a large peach and nectarine crop this year after a seven-year trial.
Vernon Mascarenhas, the fruit supplier leading the trial, who runs Nature's Choice at New Covent Garden Market said he is hoping for success this year due to increasingly warm weather.
He told The Telegraph: "We had our first commercial crop of English grown apricots this year and are trialing nectarines and peaches with the hope to sell them next year.
"Every year the blossom on these trees is coming one day early, so over 30 years this is a whole month earlier which is allowing us to plant these trees native to Southern Europe and harvest the fruit."
His business partner, Martin Dykes, said the plan is to sell the stone fruits from their stall this year, explaining: "I predict that we’ll start marketing our own nectarines and peaches in 2020. "
If successful, the company will be the first commercial fruit dealer to sell peaches and nectarines grown on British soil.
He said: "This will be the first time the UK has marketed its own nectarines and peaches."
Mr Dykes added that he predicts they will be on his stand by this year if we have the warmer summer predicted by the Met Office.
He added that top chefs are trying to make their menus 100 per cent focused on British produce, and that fruit and vegetable wholesalers are increasingly trying to grow produce which has not been successful on UK soil in the past.
The trader said: "Restaurants are opting for UK-grown produce, rather than just requesting the price and going for the cheaper, foreign option!"
This may be the sunnier side of the effect of a changing climate on our farming; a recent report by the Climate Coalition found that in 2018, the dry weather caused potatoes to grow smaller, slicing an inch off the average chip.
Carrot (down a reported 25-30 per cent) and onion yields (reportedly down 40 per cent on a normal year) were hampered by warmer than average temperatures.
Originally published in The Telegraph