- 14 September 2012
Armagh Bramley apple growers are seeing one of the worst seasons ever, with yields expected be down 50%. This comes just after they were awarded the coveted EU Protected Geographical Indication status. Sam MacNeice, Chairman of the Fruit Industry Federation of Armagh Bramley Apples, explains that the area had frost for a period of 10-12 days in April, followed by a prolonged period of rain and cold weather, "this resulted in poor pollination and the early fruit was lost." As if this wasn't enough parts of the growing the area were also hit by a hail storms, which are seldom seen in Northern Ireland.
The result of this is expected to be a 50% decrease in volume of Armagh Bramleys. Sam who is also a grower, says it will be difficult season, "We are in a bind, it will be a matter of getting our priorities right. Prices on both the fresh and processed markets will be good, it is too early to tell though as we don't start picking until around 17th September, a crystal ball would be handy at this stage!. The hail damaged fruit will most likely go for juicing, then we will have ensure that we have enough in store for a 12 month period."
Supermarkets are already lowering their specifications, to allow slightly marked fruit on to the shelves. Higher prices should not affect demand for the Armagh Bramley too much as imported apples will also be more expensive due to similar low production throughout Europe.
Last year's crop was a record yield of 70,000 tonnes, this year it looking more like 30,000.