Harvest is half way through ! The plums have all been picked and packed and sold, the conveyor was put into storage and a cheer went up from Mr B and Damian our packhouse manager. It has been a good year but as you may have noticed Autumn came early. The chill was in the morning air by August 8th and this hastened all fruit into ripeness. Clive and the teams worked long hard hours to get the plums in and now the apples are following fast and earlier than usual. The packhouse worked hard to pack and despatch 147 tons of plums.
In the case of the plums the trees were picked several times to ensure that the plums were ripe enough but with enough shelf life to last in store. Many growers pick their plums bullet hard which never become a sweet delicious plum. This leaves many plum buyers disappointed and put off English plums whereas Waitrose specifies their plums from us must be nearly ripe. Our pickers are very carefully supervised and the whole process is more costly but more satisfying.
So now to the apple and pear harvest. First apples were the Delbar, next Smitten and Elstar.
Conference pears are safely in – good crop but with lots of pears of the wrong shape. We are given very precise specifications for pears which sadly reflects the unwillingness of the customers to eat all pear shapes. Packaging helps this by including in the bag varying pears – all tasty but definitely some more shapely than others. Fruit with Attitude! These pears are destined for juice – our award winning pear juice however so a good use. Nevertheless we should all be working for less fruit and food waste.
Apples are again picked according to their starch levels and colour and the first picked apples go into store to be trickled out over the next months. Trickled out because we do not grow enough English apples to fulfill the home demand and supermarket buyers are easily tempted by highly coloured fruit from Europe. Our fruit growing is at a disadvantage as our labour is properly paid and our yields are lower due to cooler climate and light levels.
We have some great tasting new varieties like Wellant and some interesting ones like Papples. Come and try some as our seasonal shop is now open daily until Christmas (closed on Sundays).