Apple orchards surrounded by agricultural lands are visited by a less diverse collection of bee species than orchards surrounded by natural habitats, according to a new study led by Cornell University in the United States.
By looking at 10 years of data from 27 apple orchards in New York state the researchers found that apple production suffers when fewer, more closely-related species of bees pollinate an orchard. Production improves in orchards surrounded by natural habitats, which then draw a broader selection of species to apple blossoms. The study looked at the types of landscapes that surrounded the orchards, measured apple production and surveyed the species of bees that visited each orchard.
“Orchards that have bee communities that are more closely related to each other did worse in terms of their fruit production, and the communities that are more broad across the phylogeny did much better,” said one of the report’s authors, Dr Heather Grab.
Species of bees exhibit different behaviours in how and when they pollinate flowers. Some species approach from the side, others from the top, and they each may feed at different times of day and with varied frequencies, all of which affect how completely an apple flower is pollinated.
Organs in apple flowers must receive a certain number of pollen grains in order to develop a full complement of seeds. When seeds do well, the tissue that supports those seeds, the fleshy part of the fruit, is also more fully developed. “If only half of the seeds mature fully, then the fruit is misshapen,” which in turn affects weight and saleability, Grab added.
Photo Caption: A carpenter bee visiting an apple flower
Photo Credit: Cornell University
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Worldwide Fruit has said that it could consider stockpiling fruit in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal being agreed, although such a step would not be ideal and is full of complications.
Talking to the Fresh Produce Journalat the National Fruit Show in October, Worldwide’s technical and procurement director Tony Harding warned that without a suitable trade and customs deal there was a real danger that supply chains could break down.
Mitigation strategies being considered by the fruit supplier, which sells imported and UK fruit, included stockpiling, although Harding acknowledged that a lack of storage capacity and technical challenges to preserve fruit quality would make such an approach extremely difficult.
“It’s not an ideal solution at all,” he said. “What we hope to see is some kind of workable status quo in terms of how we currently do business.”
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A new series of experiments at Brogdale, funded by the National Fruit Collections Trust, aims to test the theory that future changes to the UK’s climate could be beneficial for apple production.
Professor Paul Hadley of the University of Reading, and an NFCT Trustee, said, “Climate change is affecting top fruit already. Our data shows that apple varieties are now flowering on average 17 days earlier each spring than 60 years ago. There are pros and cons to changes to apple flowering and harvest times, but these are likely to change the face of apple growing and lead to different varieties of UK fruit on supermarket shelves in the UK. This research will enable both professional growers and gardeners to learn how to adapt production techniques to cope with possible changes in the climate, and also identify varieties which are suitable for the UK’s future climate.”
The experiments will be carried out in a new 0.6 hectare facility under polythene covers, with trees of more than 15 varieties of apple. The varying conditions produce diverse flowering and harvest times, as well as growth habits and winter chill requirement. Earlier blossom and harvest times may affect fruit quality and storage potential, but how significant these changes will be is not yet known.
Tim Biddlecombe, of the Fruit Advisory Service Team and Secretary to the National Fruit Collections Trust, added, “Over the last 20 years, growers have been adapting to earlier seasons, but it is important to understand the implications if this trend continues. Obvious changes like earlier flowering could increase the risk of damage from frost during blossom, while earlier harvest would provide English apples to consumers earlier in the year and so extend the marketing period for UK apples.”
A new cherry protection system, which the manufacturers claim can be opened and closed in minutes, is heading to European orchards having been successfully used in Chile.
Wayki Solutions says that a single worker can cover, or remove, on hectare in just 20 minutes, much less time than is required with most other systems, including automated ones. The system uses a normal hand drill to turn the winding mechanism, which in turn opens and closes the covers, which sit above the existing orchard poles.
Cristián Lopez of Wayki Europe said, “Around the world, we are experiencing more and more severe and unexpected weather conditions. This has serious implications for the fruit business as it raises the possibility of events including rain and hail damaging fruit, and high winds damaging growing infrastructure such as poles and cables. Wayki is a very exciting development because it gives growers the control to cover and uncover their orchards and vineyards in a matter of minutes in response to these events.”
As well as cherries, the company believes that the cover system may have applications for crops including blueberries, apples and other soft fruit, and different types of cover can be fitted.
Photo Credit: pixabay
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Plums are the latest British crop to be affected by this summer’s extreme weather.
Growers from the Vale of Evesham, which held the annual Pershore Plum Festival at the end of August, have warned that the season has been around a month shorter than normal as yields were hit by fewer blossoms and a large number of swollen and split fruits.
“We’ve had all the right weather, just not in the right order,” commented Gary Farmer from Vale Landscape Heritage Trust. “Instead of an ongoing crop of different varieties at different times of the summer, this weekend will see the plum season coming to an end a month early.
“Plums are a temperamental fruit, which might be one reason their popularity had dwindled. What’s more, weather conditions have fluctuated over the last few years, which means neither the trees, the pollinators nor the growers know how to adapt.”
Photo Credit: Pexels
The post Plums are latest crop to be affected by the weather appeared first on Hort News on 30 August 2018.
As preparations for Fruit Focus on 25th July continue, the event, which is expected to connect more than 1,300 visitors to over 120 exhibitors, says it will focus on the continued evolution of the UK fruit industry as it faces climate change, Brexit, new technology and irrigation challenges.
The event will give growers the chance to see the latest innovation in water use and irrigation in the Water Efficient Technologies (WET) Centre. Opened last year, it features a fully automated Precision Irrigation Package, which has proven to reduce the use of water, fertilisers, pesticides and energy by 20% while also delivering up to a 10% increase in strawberry yields. With new abstraction licenses on the horizon, the area is sure to be popular.
Event hosts NIAB EMR will also be holding a forum looking at precision growing of soft fruit, encompassing new innovations and technologies to enhance crop productivity, resilience and quality. The ever-popular research tours will include the research vineyard, WET centre and concept pear orchard. “NIAB EMR’s showpiece demonstration feature, the WET Centre, is in its first full year of production, and we are anticipating a heavy crop of Malling™ Centenary,” comments Prof Mario Caccamo, managing director at NIAB EMR.
Other attractions include the NFU Forum and tours looking at strawberry pollination and the ‘concept pear orchard.’ Tickets are on sale now.
Photo Credit: Fruit Focus
English Apples & Pears (EAP), the association for UK top fruit producers, has said that the government must continue to support fruit growers after the UK leaves the EU.
In its submission to Defra’s Health and Harmony consultation, the group called for, ‘A more enabling and holistic regulatory framework for the approval of plant-protection products and to provide parity for UK growers with EU growers before we leave the EU.’ It also called for support for new varietal development, saying that this would help to ‘bolster plant health and pest and disease resistance.’
Overall EAP set out 12 points for action, including continued support for Producer Organisations, labour availability and health & sustainability. EAP chairman Ali Capper commented, “We are asking government to urgently support policy and campaigns that will increase the consumption of British-grown apples and pears. British orchards are capable of delivering public good – it’s good for the environment and the fruit produced is good for the nation’s health too. We’re ambitious to grow the size of the British crop. We know this is possible but we will need action in key areas in order to make this happen.”
Photo Credit: Wye Fruit
Worcestershire grower Ali Capper has been announced as the new executive chair of trade organisation English Apples & Pears.
Ms Capper, who grows top fruit and hops, and is the current chair of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board, will take up the restructured role from outgoing chief executive Steven Munday.
Ali said, “I’m very excited about joining EAP as their new executive chair. I’m passionate about the top fruit industry and as a grower myself I understand the issues and the opportunities that face us. I’m looking forward to working with the EAP board and our new services providers to provide a best-value solution to our grower shareholders”.
A spokesperson for EAP added, “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Steven for all his hard work in delivering our modernisation programme which has put EAP in a much better position to concentrate on the important elements of working on behalf of our growers. It is now clear that we need someone who has an empathy for the industry and who is an experienced and successful lobbyist and we believe that Ali is a perfect fit for this role.”
Going forward EAP will Richmond & Towers to deliver PR and the British Growers Association to perform back-office functions.
Photo Credit: NFU
As the British apple season gets into full swing, producers have reiterated concerns about the availability of labour and the potential impacts on the future of the UK fruit industry.
“All British apples are picked by hand, which means that the harvest from orchards is highly labour-intensive,” Steven Munday, chief executive of English Apples and Pears told The Guardian. “We’re working hard with the National Farmers’ Union and other bodies to lobby for access to the required seasonal labour after Brexit.”
John Hardman of labour provider Hops added, “We have managed to scrape by this year but 2018 is going to be a cliff edge. Apples and pears are a particular problem because it’s such a short season – typically six weeks, which means we cannot attract UK workers because of the welfare system.”
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons