RHS issue fruit crop warning

The lack of a cold winter could damage fruit yields later in the year, warn The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

The society is concerned that this year’s mild winter may lead to smaller fruit crops this autumn with a subsequent rise in prices.

The RHS are warning that fruit yields could be reduced this year

The RHS are warning that fruit yields could be reduced this year

Most hardy fruit plants need a period of chilling during winter in order to encourage flowering.

Without this cold effect evidence from previous years shows that crops may be reduced.

Blackcurrants, cherries and some apple cultivars have a particularly high chilling requirement.

Fewer insects

The other potential problem is that if there is not a prolonged cold period plants will start growing earlier than normal and may flower early too.

This could put them at a greater risk of damage if there is frost during April and early May.

Early flowering may also mean less fruit being set as there may be fewer pollinating insects around.

The current cold spell may help but RHS fruit experts suggest that a colder and longer spell of weeks would better ensure that any growth and flowering development is held back.

“We have already seen buds on the trees beginning to swell,” said Jim Arbury, RHS fruit and trials specialist.

He added:“I noticed yesterday that two of our autumn-fruiting raspberries were flowering.

“This shouldn’t be a problem as the canes will be cut to ground level in February.

“More worrying is that our blackberry cultivar ‘Silvan’ is also flowering and is therefore likely to have a reduced crop.”

The RHS advise if gardeners have only one or two fruit bushes that have started filling their buds these can be covered with some horticultural fleece or an old curtain if it looks like there is going to be frost overnight.

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