East Anglia: Cold spring delays strawberry crop
- Credit: Dougy Blanks
The coldest March for 50 years has resulted in one of the latest starts to the strawberry season in East Anglia, growers say.
The late strawberry crop means growers in the region are struggling to find ripe strawberries, and that they will have lost the best prices for early fruit.
They will now be competing for supermarket space with crops from other parts of the country, including Scotland, and overseas.
Visitors to Tiptree, where fruit is grown for the celebrated on-site jam-making operation Wilkin and Sons, were told during its Open Farm Sunday event yesterday that the strawberry crop is late this year due to the adverse weather.
More than 5000 people visited the site during the day and many took a ride across the farm to see the flowers and green berries instead of ripe strawberries. Varieties such as Little Scarlet will be three to four weeks late this year.
“It has been a fantastic day and we are delighted to once again support Open Farm Sunday,” said farm director Chris Newenham.
But he added: “The cold spring has had a major impact on the start of the fresh fruit season. We hoped to send our first Tiptree strawberries to the supermarkets in early May too meet consumer demand.
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“Our Tiptree fruit has developed great flavour this year as a result of slow ripening, but it’s just a little too slowly for us. We are now competing for a place on the supermarket shelves with strawberries from Scotland as well as the rest of the UK.”
In spite of the setback, sampling strawberries and Tiptree products proved very popular at the Open Farm Sunday event, with more than 2,000 edible spoons with jam eaten and vast quantities of shortbread biscuits from Tiptree Patisserie consumed during the four hour event.
Across the country farmers opened their gates as part of Open Farm Sunday encouraging families to explore the source of their food.
Visitors to Tiptree were given an opportunity to meet other local farmers and specialists who work on the land, including Wicks Manor piglets.
They were also invited to discover the secret life of the bee, look at ancient lawnmowers and scramble over the latest hi-tech tractors.
There were painting activities, a chance to ride round the farm, get lost in the “little scarlet” willow maze, and learn more about the value of water and irrigation before enjoying a cream tea and owl-watching.