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Early Rivers cherry at the National Fruit Collection, Kent.

As we have done for a number of years, we publish the flowering dates for the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, Kent, undertaken and kindly supplied by Lorinda Jewsbury. These are the records for a selection of varieties (standards and any new accessions) from all the tree fruit collections at Brogdale.

An early start to the warm weather has really brought on the flowering for this year, as I’m sure you’re aware. The plums are roughly a couple of weeks earlier compared to last year. As an example, Victoria was in full bloom this year on 30th March – earlier than the 10th April noted for last year; the current 10 year mean (the average full bloom date) for Victoria is 8th April.

Although a number of the cherries in the Collection have yet to come into flower, the earlier varieties, again, have responded to the warm weather and Lapins reached full bloom on the 2nd April. It was the 23rd April last year and Lapins’ 10-year mean is 16th April.

The pear orchard is a sea of white once more as the trees have responded to the temperatures. Louise Bonne of Jersey, one of the early flowerers in the Pear Collection, was in full bloom on the 30th March. Last year saw it at full bloom on the 15th April, pretty much spot on for its average of 14th April.

The apples are just setting off and, of the early flowerers, Red Astrachan and Stark’s Earliest are already in full bloom. There is still a way to go yet with the Apple Collection and with the weather forecast to be a little cooler after the weekend there may be a fair gap this year between the early and late flowering varieties.

Lorinda Jewsbury

2017

PLUM

Cambridge Gage: 29th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower);

Czar: 20th March (10% open); 26th March (full flower);

Denniston’s Superb (Imperial Gage): 22nd March (10% open); 24th March (full flower);

Farleigh Damson: 25th March (10% open); 28th March (full flower);

Marjorie’s Seedling: 30th March (10% open); 1st April (full flower);

Oullins Gage: 28th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower);

Pershore Yellow Egg: 26th March (10% open); 28th March (full flower);

Victoria: 28th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower);

 

PEAR

Concorde: 5th April (10% open);

Conference: 2nd April (10% open); 5th April (full flower);

Doyenné du Comice: 3rd April (10% open); 5th April (full flower);

Louise Bonne of Jersey: 28th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower);

 

CHERRY

Early Rivers: 30th March (10% open); 2nd April (full flower);

Hertford: 3rd April (10% open);

Lapins: 30th March (10% open); 2nd April (full flower);

Merchant: 4th April (10% open);

Stella: 5th April (10% open);

Sunburst:

 

APPLE

Blenheim Orange:

Bramley’s Seedling:

Cox’s Orange Pippin:

Crawley Beauty:

Discovery:

Egremont Russet:

Falstaff:

Feuillemorte:

Fiesta/Red Pippin:

Gala:

James Grieve:

Jonagold:

Meridian:

Red Astrachan: 31st March (10% open); 2nd April (full flower);

St. Edmund’s Pippin:

Worcester Pearmain:

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Victoria plum in flower in the National Fruit Collection, Kent, on 28 March 2017

 

My standard Victoria plum has flowered first this year and is in full flower today the 28th March a whole month earlier than last year! I live in the Vale of Clwyd, Denbighshire, north east Wales.
The Opal, Jubileum, Denbigh plum and Ontario are all close to opening, Marjorie’s Seedling is about a fortnight off flowering.

Philip Lunt

Victoria plum in flower, though not full flower, at the National Fruit Collection Brogdale (above). Dates of flowering for Victoria plum last year were: 10% of flowers 10 April; full flower 14 April; so about two weeks in advance this year in Kent: see here

Fruit Forum

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'Best in Show', RHS Tatton Park Show July 2016; Hertford cherries

‘Best in Show’: Hertford cherries at RHS Tatton Park Show July 2016

For the first time, cherries captured the ‘Best in Show’ prize for Adrian Baggaley; he also took many other prizes at the recent Royal Horticultural Society Tatton Park Show and gained a total of 16 firsts. Congratulation Adrian!

That exhibitors managed to stage cherries at all is remarkable in a year that has been difficult for English market growers, who are experiencing a poor harvest, at least in Kent. Rain and low temperatures, with one very cold night, at blossom time gave a poor fruit set and hence a low yield.

The prize winning, large and perfectly matching Hertford cherries were grown in Nottinghamshire, not a county where market cherries are grown and where Adrian says a north easterly wind has been blowing since February. Only recently has there been some respite from its chilly effects. He grows his Hertford cherries under permanent protection in a huge ‘box’ with a polythene cover across the top and fine mesh on the sides to keep off rain and birds. This covering at blossom time, he believes, ensured his good crop of cherries. Commercial fruit growers producing cherries in covered tunnels tend to put on the covers after blossom time. In their set-up, if these are erected before the flowers appear, a sunny day can send the temperatures soaring and there is the danger that it can get too high for effective pollination.

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Merryweather Damson

Merryweather Damson

As we have done for a number of years, we publish the blossom records for the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, undertaken and kindly supplied by Lorinda Jewsbury. These are records for a selection of varieties (standards and any new accessions) from all the tree fruit collections at Brogdale.

The flowering season is once more under way in the orchards at Brogdale. Many of the plums have reached full flower and the remaining varieties should not be too far behind. The warm, sunny weather a week or so back saw a good number of pears opening their blossom and some of the cherries began to follow. However, the weekend was a different story weather-wise and the chilly weather that came in has certainly put the brakes on the flowering for now. As for the effect of the chill on the open flowers and fertilisation process, we shall just have to wait and see.

Lorinda Jewsbury

 

2016

PLUM

Cambridge Gage:

Czar: 5th April (10% open); 10th April (full flower)

Denniston’s Superb (Imperial Gage): 7th April (10% open); 10th April (full flower); 20th April (90% petal fall)

Farleigh Damson: 11th April (10% open); 13th April (full flower)

Marjorie’s Seedling: 18th April (10% open); 21st April (full flower)

Oullins Gage: 11th April (10% open); 12th April (full flower)

Pershore Yellow Egg: 6th April (10% open); 8th April (full flower); 25th April (90% petal fall)

Victoria: 10th April (10% open); 14th April (full flower)

 

PEAR

Concorde:

Conference:

Doyenne du Comice:

Louise Bonne of Jersey: 12th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower)

 

CHERRY

Early Rivers: 23rd April (10% open)

Hertford:

Lapins: 20th April (10% open); 23rd April (full flower)

Merchant:

Stella:

Sunburst:

 

APPLE

Blenheim Orange:

Bramley’s Seedling:

Cox’s Orange Pippin:

Crawley Beauty:

Discovery:

Egremont Russet:

Falstaff:

Feuillemorte:

Fiesta/Red Pippin:

Gala:

James Grieve:

Jonagold:

Meridian:

Red Astrachan:

St. Edmund’s Pippin:

Worcester Pearmain:

 

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Prunus mume Benichidori

Prunus mume ‘Benichidori’

This year Prunus mume ‘Benchidori’ is in full flower now, at the beginning of January in Kent. There were even sprigs in flower for me to bring inside for a Christmas Day posy! This is extraordinary early: in 2011, for example,  it came into blossom in about mid-March.  Prunus mume is a small tree, rather tender in the UK as it flowers so early and planted as an ornamental rather than fruiting tree. Its flowers are exquisite and in this variety deep pink and intensely scented. That it has flowered so early is proof indeed that we have had an exceptionally mild winter. If any proof was needed with primroses and winter Cyclamen coum in flower. Do any of our readers have Prunus mume in flower, or other examples of such early growth?

Hundreds of cultivated varieties of Prunus mume exist in its homeland in the Far East. It is the ‘plum’ blossom of Chinese paintings and cultivated in China and Japan for centuries, where it serves as the harbinger of spring often flowering when snow is still on the ground. Prunus mume is grown for its fruit, as well as blossom, and these are an important ingredient in Chinese and Japanese cuisine – made into a sauce, an alcoholic drink and pickled, as ‘umeboshi plums’ in Japan. For a little more about ‘Prunus mume – the first fruit blossom of the year’, see this past post.

Can anyone give us more information on Prunus mume and how it is grown in China and Japan or anywhere else that it may be cultivated?

Joan Morgan

 

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I thought these pages might be useful for your fruit-loving readers!

Strawberry Festival Calendar 2016-2017: https://www.everfest.com/food/strawberry-festivals

Hundreds of Fruit Festivals happening in 2016-2017: https://www.everfest.com/find?utf8=%E2%9C%93&location=&latitude=&longitude=&starts_on=&ends_on=&q=fruit&button=

Maddie Rish

 

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Walnut trees cropping heavily in Kent; inset Broadview walnuts

Walnut trees cropping heavily in Kent this year; inset English grown Broadview walnuts.

This year has been an excellent one for walnuts with a splendid harvest of English grown walnuts.

You can find English walnuts on sale in farm shops, farmer’s markets and food festivals across south east England, as well as on-line.

Home grown walnuts are so much tastier than imported ones. They are fresher: harvested this autumn, travelling at most 50 miles from farm to market and very well worth seeking out. Walnuts are not usually sold by the variety, but the grower will be able to tell you which one you are buying. The two I found on sale last weekend were Broadview and Lara, gathered from trees planted during the 1990s and now in their stride, cropping well.

This is the time of year to look out for home grown walnuts. The two main sellers are Alexander Hunt of Potash Farm, near Sevenoaks and Edward Lade of Nut Farms, also based in Kent. Potash Farm has its own shop, on-line sales and regional outlets and can to be found at farmers’ markets across the south east: see here for a diary of venues. Nut Farms sells walnuts at Kent markets and every weekend in London at the Saturday ‘Fine Food Market’, Duke of York’s Square, off the King’s Road, Chelsea and the Sunday ‘Farmers Market’ at Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill; see here for more information. They both also sell home grown hazel nuts and a range of products, which includes hazel nut oil and walnut oil.

Check on their websites and twitter for the markets at which you can find them and check the list of Kent Farmers Markets to be held during December in the run-up to Christmas.

English nuts will be featured on BBC Radio 4 ‘Farming Today’ next Wednesday 16 December at 5.45 am, also on Saturday 19 December at 6.30am and include an interview with Alexander Hunt.

For more walnut stories see our main website for reviews of two books, one on cooking with walnuts and the other about walnuts grown across the world: http://www.fruitforum.net/walnuts-at-home-and-abroad.htm

Fruit Forum

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