The late summer has produced the best EVER crop of British strawberries which are 40 per cent sweeter than normal, industry experts claimed yesterday.
A cold spring has caused the beloved berries to grow much slower, giving them longer to develop a more succulent flavour.
The first harvest of the season was delayed by more than two and a half weeks – but the fruits are now thriving thanks to the recent recent spell of sunshine.
Strawberry farmer Andrew Seager has been growing them for more than 50 years at his farm in the Cheddar valley in Somerset.
He said: “We are two and a half weeks late this year, which is the latest I have ever known it, which isn’t too good really.
“But now they are here, they have a very good flavour – an excellent flavour because they have grown slower. They’re much better than normal.
“Now the sun has come they are thriving.
“Things are looking better now, I was worried the weather was going to make the season was a washout like last year.
“The weather was much better than last year though, so we shouldn’t have any more problems after our dodgy start this season.”
Andrew, 64, grows 18 hectares of strawberries at his farm and will employ 20 people this summer to help him pick all the tasty berries.
He added: “Funnily enough, they are the tastiest strawberries I’ve ever grown. I’ve spoken to a few other farmers, and they all said the same thing – the late start has made them taste so much better.”
Strawberry association British Summer Fruits says growers across the country are reporting berries 15 per cent larger than usual – and are much sweeter.
The sweetness of strawberries, and other soft fruits, is measured in degrees Brix (Bx).
While usual strawberries are around seven degrees Bx, this year’s tasty treats are clocking in at well over ten degrees Bx – a 42 per cent increase.
Laurence Olins, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, said: “Strawberries are a British staple of the early summer season.
“It may have been a later start to the British strawberry season, but there will be a good supply of British strawberries for everyone to enjoy.
“Twenty years ago, poor weather conditions might have meant disaster for commercial strawberry growers, but following decades of investment in protective covers and new varieties, this summer’s strawberry crop is thriving.”
Production is expected to exceed last year’s 51,626 tonnes of strawberries supplied to UK supermarkets by members of British Summer Fruits – which sold for a monster #780 million.