Waiting for the apples

So far this year has not been perfect for apple growing - the gardening team are keeping their fingers crossed for a good crop

Gooseberry 'Ingals Prolific Red'The Orchard at RHS Garden Wisley, in common with everywhere else this year, is lush and green as a result of wet weather. The apple crop is good, although it will be later than most years due to the late cool spring and cool wet summer. We’re wondering if any cultivars will be ripe by the end of July – that will be interesting to see… The first eating apples to ripen are usually ‘Laxton’s Early Crimson’, ‘Gladstone’ and ‘Joaneting’ followed by ‘Beauty of Bath’.

These conditions may also result in slightly smaller fruits. At the moment we are thinning fruit to ensure regular crops, and good quality apples of a reasonable size. It’s a job for June or early July when there is a heavy crop, and we remove misshapen, and pest and diseased damaged fruit.

The fruits are left at 1-2 fruits per cluster 10-15cm apart for eating apples (and pears), and single fruits 15-20cm apart for cooking apples. We thin the fruits with our fingers rather than scissors or secateurs. 

Removing apple scab

The wet conditions are unfortunately ideal for apple scab, which develops on leaves and fruit. The best cause of action is to remove badly affected fruits when thinning to reduce further infection.

Our strawberries have suffered in the wet conditions too with more rotten fruit. With luck, the other soft fruits should be good if weather become drier. Gooseberries and currants are well suited to the conditions and I hope to have some good fruit for a display at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park.

Conditions for bees have not been ideal so far, but I am hoping for improvement so that they can bring in a surplus of honey in the second half of the summer. We are all looking forward to that!

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