'Perfect' weather brings bumper apple harvest

Apples ripen in the sunshine in the orchards
Image caption Apples need sunshine to grow and develop a good flavour

This year's weather has created the ideal conditions for a bumper crop of sweet and rosy apples, experts say.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said last year's wet autumn followed by the icy spring and a hot summer were perfect for apple growing.

Shoppers can expect to see the homegrown harvest appear in shops in the next few weeks, the RHS added.

Last year's apple orchards experienced a poor harvest after a cool and wet spring and summer.

Jim Arbury, fruit specialist at the RHS's Wisley garden in Surrey, said: "Apples evolved in central Asia to suit a continental climate of hot summers and very cold winters and need to be exposed to a certain amount of cold weather each winter or they won't flower or fruit properly."

He explained that the wet autumn in 2012 helped to rule out the chance of drought which can lead to small, poor-tasting fruit.

Chilly conditions right up until April gave the trees enough "chill time" for the fruit to set properly and held back flowering, he said.

By the time they did flower, there were more insects around to pollinate the blossom and less risk of damage by frost. Then very hot weather in summer boosted ripening, he added.

"In the spring crops were lagging up to a month behind but a sudden burst of sunshine in prime ripening season late June and July has helped the apples gain some ground as well as helping them ripen up beautifully," said Mr Arbury.

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