Heatwave Helps Bring On Bumper Watermelon Crop In The UK
Heatwave and the warmest spring on record in the UK has resulted in a bumper crop of British watermelons, Tesco said in a statement.
Oakley Farms in Cambridgeshire harvested its first crop of 6,000 watermelons, which went on sale exclusively in Tesco from last week.
The watermelons are available in around 100 Tesco stores and cost £2.99 each, which is the same price as the imported variety.
The demand for watermelons at Tesco has grown by nearly 20% this year, the retailer added.
The heat has not only helped increase sweetness levels but also made these watermelons larger than normal, Tesco said in its statement.
Tesco fruit technical manager and melon expert, James Cackett, added, “The quality of these UK grown watermelons is so good that shoppers will not be able to taste the difference from the imported ones we get from Spain.
“This year the great weather over the last four months has brought about a more consistent quality than we’ve ever had before.”
Cackett has spent the last 15 years working with seed houses and British growers on developing watermelon varieties that are right for the UK climate and soil.
Watermelons are grown undercover in the UK to protect the crop from low temperatures.
According to Nick Molesworth of Oakley Farms, outside temperature impacts the growth, quality and sweetness levels of the fruit despite these precautions.
'Best Growing Season'
Commenting on this year’s harvest, Molesworth said, “We’ve been producing watermelons for a few years now but this has been the best growing season ever because of the amazing spring we’ve just had and the heatwave we’re enjoying right now.
“This year the fantastic spring warmth helped the seeds germinate and also develop a better root system than ever before which made the whole plant stronger.”