Grower techniques ensure plentiful supply of high-quality blackberries
13th September 2023
Senior agronomists have announced that this year’s blackberry season has produced a very high-quality crop, sweeter and larger than their hedgerow counterparts. The work of UK growers has ensured a strong harvest this year, ensuring availability of blackberries through to November, with peak production now underway.
Advanced techniques allow for an extended British blackberry season
While bramble hedgerow blackberries are appearing, these berries are smaller and do not have the same high flavour profile as expert-grown British blackberries.
British berry growers now grow “new generation” varieties. These varieties are more than twice the size of the standard hedgerow blackberry. They have been developed to be sweet, juicy and large—perfect for both snacking and cooking.
Shop-bought blackberries are carefully bred by expert pomologists, while hedgerow blackberries are made up of around 300 wild sub-species with many degrees of sweetness and bitterness. As a result, even in good years, the quality of hedgerow harvesting is inconsistent compared to the high quality of shop-bought blackberries.
Additionally, UK shoppers will be able to enjoy British blackberries well beyond hedgerow season thanks to special techniques used by growers. This includes picking blackberries from plants that are just one year old to secure the most flavourful fruit, and placing plants in cold stores to artificially extend their winter dormancy and prolong fruiting once they are placed in the cropping fields.
These techniques mean that British blackberries are available on supermarket shelves from April through to November. Customers look for larger berries – and thanks to skilled growers, they will be able to enjoy large, juicy blackberries even when the weather turns cold. The commercial British blackberry season now runs for 36 weeks of the year.
British berry business
The berry industry in Britain is big business, with the year-round retail sales of berries standing at an all-time high of £1.7 billion. The berry industry is estimated to contribute £3.18 billion to the British economy in the next five years.
Berries remain a staple for British shoppers—fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) continue to be the most popular fruit item in shoppers’ baskets, with the largest market share (28%) of all fruit sold in the UK.
Nick Marston, chairman of British Berry Growers, the industry body that represents 95 percent of berries supplied to UK supermarkets said:“Shoppers this year will be able to enjoy sweet and juicy British blackberries well beyond hedgerow season thanks to the advanced techniques of our growers. Whether eating them in their natural state or using them in a recipe, you can enjoy blackberries that are consistent in their excellent taste and appearance thanks to the hard work and innovation of British growers.
“Blackberries have numerous health benefits—they’re particularly high in vitamin C, fibre, and vitamin K. Blackberries are also high in manganese, which helps boost bone development and the absorption of nutrients. There’s also research that they may contribute to brain health.
“Eating fresh, natural food is the basis of our Nature’s Vitamin campaign, which highlights the importance of getting fresh berries into your diet due to their many health benefits.”