As this year’s blackcurrant harvest begins this month, the British growers’ association, The Blackcurrant Foundation, reports on a challenging growing season but on a positive note its exciting future investment into climate-resilient varieties.
This year, growers have been faced with unique weather challenges. Following extremely high rainfall over January and February, growers were then to suffer a very warm and sunny spring with the driest May since records began. Late frosts and very cold nights just as the blackcurrant blossom was in full flower may have damaged some fruit potential, but despite the challenges, growers remain confident for a good harvest this year. Predictions are currently for a yield of 10,000 tonnes with 90% of the crop used by Ribena.
Harriet Prosser, an agronomist at Lucozade Ribena Suntory, says:
“It has not been an easy growing season – another very warm winter, very wet as well, followed by the driest sunniest spring on record. The recent rain this month has been helpful, but we are hoping for a dry but not too warm harvest. Despite that, the blackcurrants are doing well and crop prospects look positive on the whole.”
With the nation’s wellbeing is paramount, fresh blackcurrants can help keep our immune systems strong. Weight for weight, blackcurrants contain four times more vitamin C than oranges and over twice as many antioxidants as blueberries. This makes them a perfect seasonal addition to our diets.
Determined to protect the future of the British blackcurrant, Ribena’s brand owner – Lucozade Ribena Suntory – has extended its 30-year partnership with the James Hutton Institute, the leading agricultural research centre for soft fruits. Together with The Blackcurrant Foundation, Ribena’s UK growers have been trialling new varieties of climate-resilient blackcurrants, some of which are set to bear fruit this summer. A significant investment of £500,000 from Lucozade Ribena Suntory, means that development can continue into climate-resilient blackcurrant varieties, safeguarding the future of the crop and helping secure the livelihoods of UK blackcurrant growers.
As development continues into climate-resilient varieties, the flavour of the berries remains a key focus. The Blackcurrant Foundation’s spokesperson Jo Hilditch, says:
“This year we have one new variety from which we will have our second and proper pick; these should have a great yield and have been developed in cooperation with Ribena for its great flavour.”
The harvest started on the 30th of June in Kent.