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All over the country, the race is on to bring this our food. It's harvest
time! Gathering in the bounty of the land is the most crucial event in
the countryside calendar. Now, as this year's harvest reaches
its climax, it's time to see exactly what is happening with all our
crops. Seeds of life to sustain us, fresh
vegetables pulled from the Earth, fruit that is our sweet treat - all
conjured up from Mother Nature. We will be discovering the remarkable
craft and magic of farming, and finding out just where our food
comes from. No matter how clever farming
becomes, our crops are still at the No matter how clever farming
mercy of the weather. Harvest 2012 was a disaster. After
record summer rainfall, crops failed and prices spiralled. Can 2013
record summer rainfall, crops failed our farmers back on track to deliver
the food we all rely on? As the harvest comes in, we will reveal the
results. This time, we're getting a taste of
British fruit. We will discover which of our sweet
treats has had a vintage year. Welcome to Harvest 2013.
We're in beautiful Herefordshire at the, height of the cherry harvest.
For me, it's all about the growing and the quality. I could never
produce fruit like this at home, and definitely not on such a massive
scale. We've been tracking the progress of
the cherry crop on this farm all year. Now we are here to bring you
all the action from the harvest. It is a delicate business: it
requires high-speed precision picking and high-tech processing and
packing. Gregg, you're going to have your
work cut out today. You're joining Gregg, you're going to have your
the harvest team. 40,000 of these they pick per day. Are you up for
that? Are you fit and strong enough? Can I say, you watch! Actually, UK
cherry growing is growing through a renaissance at the moment. Over half
the cherry we eat are imports but British growers are fighting back,
and these guys are at the forefront of that revolution. We will also be
finding out how to grow super sweet strawberries, and witnessing the
sheer speed of the blackcurrant harvest.
Growing anything is always a gamble harvest.
with the moods of Mother Nature. To food experts Stefan Gates gives us
some of the scientific secrets of success.
2013 has been an extraordinary year for our fruit crops. Starting with
the long cold winter, and then the very late spring.
We've been following the struggles of Herefordshire farmer, Andy Hunt.
How has this year's weather affected the cherry harvest. We will bring
you the results from this farm and all around the country. We will
discover who has won and who has lost in Harvest 2013. All we're
missing now is farmer Andy. I know he's out there somewhere worrying
about his cherry. Let's meet him. Andy Hunt is a farmer with a
singular talent for trees. He started out as a cereal farmer, then
turned to vegetables. 35 years ago, Andy found fruit, and now he is a
pioneer for a new method of growing cherry - whole orchards under cover.
The cherry tree requires a great deal of care and attention.
We consider almost every tree as an individual, so we have 60,000 trees
that we have to care for. I've always been keen on precision.
In my own garden, I like straight lines.
I am even sat at the table rearranging my cutlery, which is all
very sad, but that's me. What I find about fruit farming is
that you have to be very precise. We build tunnels which are effectively
buildings over your trees. So everything has to be planned, and
that really suits my nature. Andy Ravishes months of meticulous love
on his trees, but he can't pick the crop alone. At harvest, he's joined
by 250 pickers and packers. Although there is a real buzz on the farm, it
can be quite stressful. Tempers can be a bit fraught. We are all
determined people here. Some people might say even obsessed about
getting the fruit in. It is very important to our futures at the
getting the fruit in. It is very of the day. The whole business is
about getting the cherry picked, packed, and sold.
This is where it started, is it? It is - 20 years ago. This is the first
cherry we ever planted on the farm. Why cherries? We knew there was a
market out there because all the cherries we eat in the UK is
imported, simply because of our weather. They are difficult to grow.
Nature tends to throw everything at the cherry. Is it a particularly
Nature tends to throw everything at tricky one, the cherry, do you
think? Yes, it's been the most difficult challenge I've faced as a
grower. And all that knowledge and the rest of it didn't save you last
year. Was last year awful? Yes, last year, we had incredibly low light
levels which had an effect on the taste of the cherry, and of course,
cherries are all about taste. I love about you, it's a complete love
affair between you and the cherry, isn't it? It is, it has become
affair between you and the cherry, passion, to be quite honest.
Elsewhere in the orchard, pickers are hard at work harvesting the
cherries. This year, things are busier than ever. The unusual
weather has brought mixed blessings for Andy. He's got a bumper crop of
cherries, but they've ripened all at once. In a normal year, the British
cherry season lasts two months, but this year, he's faced with
harvesting 40 million cherries in just five short weeks. The race is
on. So what is it about the cherry that makes it so aluring? And why is
it so difficult to grow? Not so long ago, cherries were our favourite
summer fruit. Their tantalisingly short harvest only added to their
appeal. The Romans were the first to
cultivate them in orchards across southern England. But growing
cherries commercially is tough. To produce a good crop of fruit, the
trees need a lot of looking after. Our traditional cherry orchards were
not fit for the supermarket age. The 60-foot trees were hazardous to
pick, and, exposed to the elements, there was always the risk a whole
crop could be lost to birds or the weather.
The cost and unpredictability of the home harvest sent supermarkets
looking abroad. By 2000, only one in ten of our
British cherry farmers were still hanging on.
Something had to change. These trees have shrunk because they
look nothing like those massive ones we've just seen on that piece of
film. Why? So we can pick them. It is the simple answer. The main
reason we can achieve a small tree is by growing them on a rootstock.
It is a dwarfing rootstock which controls the height of the tree.
You've got the root from one one cherry tree and the rest from
another and stuck it together. You can see it down there. This is what
they one cherry tree and the rest from another and stuck it together.
they one cherry tree and the rest You can see it down there. This is
what they call the "union". Here is the rootstock, here is the tree. The
bulbous by the in the middle is the join? Yes, it sort of grows like
that, and it grows on. So the roots are governing how far the tree
grows? Absolutely. Is it more productive, would you say? Very much
more productive. What you're doing now is producing a tree that's
relatively small, hasn't got an enormous amount of wood or leaf, and
it can put its effort into producing fruit. Everybody that grows trees
for commercial harvest will grow them with this type of rootstock. It
has revolutionised the UK cherry business. In, modern trees are three
times more productive than the older ones.
Before we find out what it takes to get the cherries off the trees,
Before we find out what it takes to let's look back at what it took to
get here. The story of our cherries actually
starts way back in winter. I enjoy this time of year. It is
cold and crisp. You've got plenty of wildlife. The trees appear to be
standing there idle, but, actually, within the tree, there is a lot
happening. The January snow was great news for Andy because each
cherry tree needs a precise of chilling through the winter months
to produce blossom in spring. And then fruit in summer.
In it doesn't receive the right amount of chilling, it can affect
the quality and the yield, and in stream cases, it may not even fruit
at all. But it is not just cherries. All our
fruit crops need those crucial chill hours during the winter months if
they're going to produce fruit. So what is actually going on inside
the plants? Stefan Gates reveals more about this mysterious
phenomenon. How do our fruit trees know when to
start growing, when to flower, and when to drop their leaves? It is all
due to the fact that plants really do feel the cold.
When the trees lose their leaves in winter, they become dormant and that
is because they are genetically pre-programmed to shut down.
But what is it that causes the tree to wake up again? It is down to a
mysterious process called "vernalisat Take Take this apple
tree. It is only when the tree gets cold for a prolonged period of time
that another set of genes is activated, and this begins the long
process of preparing the plant for spring. It is a little bit like the
plant's internal clock is being reactivated. Prolonged low
temperatures in winter trigger the release of a hormone called
florigen, and this is this that kick-starts the plant into flowering
and eventually to produce fruit. To make an apple, the tree must
endure around 700 hours of temperatures colder than seven
degrees. Without that, it simply won't flower as well when the
weather warms up. Andy's cherries need even more cold
than apples: 1,200 hours, to be precise, and this winter, they
certainly got that. But the cold weather dragged on and
on, and spring came really late, so Andy began to worry that he had
another problem on his hands: that, by summer, all his fruits would
develop at the same time. And, as if that wasn't enough, in July, along
came the longest heatwave of this century. Those prolonged warm
temperatures accelerated the ripening, and now all the cherries
are pretty much ready at the same time. Will they be able to pick all
the cherries while they're still perfectly ripe? Gregg has gone to
meet the pickers that Andy is trusting with his precious crop.
I've been told to come here. Bev, available between 12 and two. I
am a bit early. Bev Woodyatt is in charge of the
seasonal workforce at Lower Hope. She used to be a picker herself.
Traditionally, all our fruit crops were harvested by local people, but,
like so many things in farming, times have changed, and now we
employ thousands of foreign times have changed, and now we
to do the job. I greet the students, I do their
inductions, make sure they've got the right paperwork, do their wages
and look after the campsite. I am like their mum but I don't cook and
clean for them. Why are they all eastern European? We do advertise
for British people but they don't seem to be really interested. We
have had a couple, one lasted an hour, one lasted a day. It is hard
work. At the moment, it's a shame, but they just don't seem to want to
do it. On your office door, one lasted a day. It is hard work. At
the moment, it's a shame, but they lasted a day. It is hard work. At
just don't seem to want to do it. On your office door, it says "meeting
by appointment only". Why is that? Constant, knock, knock, knock on the
door, things like, "My lightbulb has gone. What time is it going to stop
raining?" At the height of harvest, Bev has 250 pickers, packers and
pruners all all need housing in the farm's own campsite. This is one of
the caravans. Sizeable. How many people sleep in here? This has six
in. This is Ivelina. We wanted to see how you all live and stuff. Come
in. Hello. Great big television. Have you got satellite? Yes, we have
English satellite, Bulgarian TV. We can watch everything. This is quite
cosy. I think I wouldn't mind a caravan.
You wouldn't want to share a room with someone having nightmares. Some
workers stay for ten months a year, so there is a strong
workers stay for ten months a year, community around the campsite, they
cook, do their washing together. It's got a real holiday camp feel,
except everyone is here for one main reason: to earn money. They get paid
by the weight of the cherries they pick. Why do you publish everyone's
earnings? They like to know every day how much they've earned. This
picker here, Mateusz Klus, he is earning about £100 a day. In fact,
there are four or five people there earning near on £100 a day? Yes. If
you're willing to work, you can earn good money. What is the tapal day of
your cherry worker? Ve could be 5 o'clock in the morning, it could be
six, it just depends, and they normally work about eight hours a
day. When they finish at night, it is one big mad dash to get in the
showers, usually it is not long before they're in bed because
obviously they've got to start and get up again four or 5 o'clock in
the morning ready for the next day. Much socialising here in the
evening? Yes, they usually get together and have a drink. Mostly,
there is a birthday every day with this amount of people, if not two,
and then we usually do barbecues for them. Is there much interpicking
romance? We have had marriages, we have had babies. Really?Yes. That's
fantastic. It is 20 years since Bev was a
picker herself. It is a lifestyle she grew up with. How was it being a
picker? It is hard work, but it was fun. This is m. No way. Us kids used
to sit and pick hops into an umbrella. Here's when it was all
done by hand. Not a lot has changed, really? Lots of people on the land
then all bringing in the harvest. Yes. But of course there are plenty
of other things that have changed. Right now, everyone is racing to
bring this this incredible crop, but we wouldn't have all these cherries
without one thing: polytunnels. Polytunnels were introduced to
British farming 20 years ago, and they've completely revolutionised
our summer fruit industry by increasing the reliability of the
harvest. Andy led the way in using them to cover whole cherry orchards.
They Lou him to control the growing environment to suit the precise
needs of the trees. The scale of his man-made cherry heaven is
staggering. The tunnels go up in spring when Andy's team cover the
whole orchard with a giant plastic roof.
It is important the trees are protected from late frost. In
summer, the polytunnels keep the ripe cherries safe from storms that
would split them and devastate the harvest. I have to say, I will
confess to you, I am not a big fan of polytunnels, but it's lovely in
here. It's a lovely climate, a of polytunnels, but it's lovely in
beautiful climate. It allows us to amend nature, really. We can make it
warmer in the spring, cooler in the summer. How do you ventilate them,
then? We use these poles.This is not going to be press a button? Not
quite. How many miles?About 50 kilometres which is 30 miles of
tunnels, so it is a lot of tunnels. 30 miles of tunnels. So every time
you decide it's a bit hot today, you've got to do 30 miles? Yes.
Also, how much does that cost? It costs us about £1,000 to push all
the tunnels up and pull them down again. Shallwe? we? , all you do is
- I won't do this 3 miles.I will show you. You simply put the pole
here just on the bottom and pub it up underneath. The ropes tighten and
hold it. You come alongside the rope, tuck it into here. By the time
you've done this for 30 miles, ght, midnight, isn't it? A little bit
further, please. Quite particular. That is you, though. You're so
particular. Very particular. We simply go along. Try the ne one. .
It is a good workout. In the winter, then, are they protecting them? We
actually take them off in the winter. What you've done wrong there
is you need to get the bottom underneath and they won't slide
down. Are you saying my work on the farm is sloppy? You need a bit of
training! How much does this whole rig cost? All these polytunnels and
everything? How much is that in rig cost? All these polytunnels and
terms of inselection? We spent about £2 fingerprint 25 million on
tunnels. It's a huge investment. Absolutely. For you it's the
difference of growing cherries in the UK. Without them, we wouldn't
difference of growing cherries in growing cherries in the UK. That's
the same for lots of fruit as well, particularly one of our favourites,
the strawberry as Gregg has been finding out.
The biggest in the polytunnel revolution is the strawberry. This
The biggest in the polytunnel sweet berry has taken over from the
cherry as our favourite summer fruit. It now dwarfs dwarfs cherry
sales on a massive five to one and makes up over 80 per cent of all the
soft fruit we eat. The original wild strawberries still grow in our
woods. They are delicately small and are shade-loving berries. The larger
modern strawberry was bred in France in the 18th century and is much more
of a sun worshipper. It is also a lot easier to grow than the needy
cherry which explains why the strawberry industry has last eight
the last eight years. It seems there's no stopping this Goliath of
the summer fruit world. Now there are strawberriesing grown all over
the UK. And not always in are strawberriesing grown all over
that I would expect. Here I am in Stonehaven, 500 miles
north of London. It is a beautiful little place. When
I think about food round here, I think about brilliant Scottish sea
food, lobsters or herring - most think about brilliant Scottish sea
certainly not strawberries. Look at these. Mmm. They are seriously good.
They come from just down the road here.
I always think of strawberries basking in the sunny warmth of
southern basking in the sunny warmth of
But, in fact, the colder Scottish lowlands are surprisingly
productive. Ross Mitchell grows over 200 acres
of soft fruit on his Aberdeenshire farm.
He believes there are some real advantages to growing this far
north. But, like Andy, he relies on
polytunnels to keep out the worst of the Scottish weather. He is also
adopting some really high-tech growing techniques that mean his
strawberries lead a remarkably growing techniques that mean his
pampered lifestyle. Not what I expected at all, mate.
Gregg, this is strawberry growing in the modern era. This is a hydroponic
system we're growing in so there is no natural soil involved. We're
taking in coir, which is ground-up coconut shells. The plants sit in
the coir, an efficient growing medium which encourages better root
growth and increases fruit production. They receive their food
through a network of pipes. What exactly is going through these
through a network of pipes. pipes? Water, I should imagine?
Water and all the nutrients plants need. They need nitrogen, calcium,
potassium, phosphorous. We are using a computer to measure the humidity
potassium, phosphorous. We are using and sunlight, and when they need
nutrient, they get it. They normally would have got them from the soil?
Yes, or a granular fertiliser that would be applied once or twice a
year. We're giving fertiliser every time continually. You're not giving
the strawberry anything it wouldn' had fifty 50 years ago? No, it's not
get anything that is not a natural resource. Just a different way?Yes.
You've got it on a drip? Yes. We try to take the variables out of it to
You've got it on a drip? Yes. We try grow a more consistent even crop.
You've got it on a drip? Yes. We try You get more yield and better fruit
from this system? We do, yes.How confident hat you that these are
going to taste better than my uncle Ted's ones in Kent? Very confident.
The proof of the pudding is is in the eating. Oh, mate. That's a very
good strawberry. Seriously sweet. Maybe too much potassium in that
one! Is that right!Maybe. Nitrogen balance is Maybe too much potassium
in that one! Is that right!Maybe. Nitrogen balance is absolutely
in that one! Is that right!Maybe. right. ! It is all very futuristic,
but things weren't always that way. Ross is part of a long tradition of
soft fruit production on the east coast of Scotland. Since the 1890s,
thousands of acres of land has been dedicated to growing soft fruit,
much of which was sent under steam to London markets. The
much of which was sent under steam tough without polytunnels, but
farmers were making the most of one of Scotland's natural advantages:
Daylight. And lots of it. In midsummer, this
area gets well over an hour more day light than Kent.
Which has a huge effect on the short life of the strawberry.
Ross, that's great. I am taking it they are the different stage of
development of a strawberry? So, yes, a school lesson here: we start
off with an open flower which then needs to be pollenated. So the
centre of the flower then develops to become the strawberry. You can
see the different growth stages here. So, between here and here,
probably takes about four weeks. And here and here takes about two weeks.
But this is the crucial stage where all the sweetness, all the flavour
is put into the strawberry, so this is the very point where Scotland's
climate makes a difference to the is the very point where Scotland's
fruit flavour. The extra daylight hours means Ross's strawberries have
longer to build up sugars. Because it is generally cooler up here, they
ripen more slowly, giving even more time for the strawberries to develop
their deliciously sweet flavour. Hey, those berries were absolutely
delicious, but these are equally as delicious, and these are all Andy's
cherries, and what I wanted to show delicious, and these are all Andy's
you is even though we think cherries are all the same, look at all of the
different varieties. Yes, you can clearly see when they are put
together they are all very different, are not they? This one
here is my favourite one, called a Sweetheart isn't that lovely? That
looks very cherry-ish. Do they taste differently? You taste, taste the
Sweetheart ones. Taste another one. I can guarantee you that he will be
different. These Sweethearts I think almost taste like a glass of red
wine. They are very sweet.This one is sweet, maybe deeper. Try one of
these. These having these stones in it have
caused a problem in recent years. I am pleased to hear that sales are on
the increase. Because of the stones, because they are difficult to eat,
people have been neglecting them. We've been getting lazy. If I leave
people have been neglecting them. a bowl of cherries out on the table,
people have been neglecting them. they're gone in half an hour in our
house. I don't think you agree with me they taste like wine? I don't,
really. That's because you drink rubbish wine, obviously! What do
they taste like? They just taste sweet. That I think tastes more like
a blackcurrant. I am getting that, and also with the colour as well.
This is the sweetest of all. Pick the last one up for me there. All I
- That is much sweeter.I don't know what that one is called. That was
the point I am trying to make: they are all very different. That's less
sweet, isn't it? That is the least sweet of all. What I like about
British home-grown cherries is they're likely to be riper because
they don't have to travel so far. If you're picking abroad and you're
air-freighting or put they think on a ship, you're not going to pick
them anywhere near ripe. Let's stay here and scoff some more! In the
spring, all over the UK, orchards are blossoming and they are
attracting insect pollinators. That short flowering season is a treat
for our fruit growers. I always look forward to blossom.
The trees always look at their best this time of year. Andy's not alone.
In spring, fruit farmers all over the UK enjoy one of nature's finest
shows. This is lovely to see the seasons
moving on in the growth stages. Once we see the flower in our fruit
crops, at least we have a chance of getting a good crop. This is both
exciting and a nervous time of year. What happens now and for the next
few weeks will determine what level of crop we have and ultimately what
harvest. We want to be absolutely sure the bees have done their job.
We have such a short window - maybe two weeks - to get the trees
pollinated. If you don't get pollination, you get no fruit.
Praying for good weather. Forever looking at the weather forecast and
hoping things are going to go well for us.
If we can just see the sun shining, the insects flying, and all the
If we can just see the sun shining, blossom pollenated, then, great. It
is so stunning, that it is really easy to get carried away with the
romance of blossom, but of course every single flower is there to
perform a function: they need to be pollenated by insects if there is
going to be any fruit crop at all. But what exactly is pollination?
Stefan Gates has been exploring this fascinating example of co-operation
in nature. The key to a plant's success is sex.
And that is where pollen comes. In. Each microscopic grain carries the
male reproductive cells of a plant. For a plant to reproduce, its pollen
must reach the female plants of another plant. Plants can't travel
so finding a mate can be tricky. That's why lots of plants rely on
animals to act as go-betweens. To attract animal pollinators, plants
entice them with dazzling displays of flowers, rich with nectar and
entice them with dazzling displays scent. Insects, and in other
countries even birds and mammals, feed on the nectar, and, in return,
they provide an invaluable service. Flowers contain both male and female
parts, and if you look at this beautiful lily, these are the
anthers, and they are utterly drenched in pollen. They're the male
part of the flower, and their prominent position is no
coincidence. They stick out so that any visiting creatures are sure to
get a thorough coating of pollen, pollen that they will then carry to
the next plant. Hopefully, it will drop some of that pollen on to this
stigma, which is the female part, and when the pollen drops there, it
travels down all the way down to the bottom to the ovaries.
Once it reaches an ovary, the pollen fertilisers an egg. The flower can
now develop seeds, and, in some plants, the tasty fruit around them.
With that, the plant has successfully reproduced.
Back at the farm, Andy's team of workers are still busy picking his
bumper crop much cherries. They're three-quarters of the way through
the harvest now. But these cherries are only here because of a very
different workforce. Commercial fruit farmers like Andy
rely on an army of insects they buy in to pollenate their crops. Back
rely on an army of insects they buy spring, I went to help Andy on one
of the most important days of his year. Bee day.
It is 29 April at Lower Hope, and the blossom is due to emerge any
day. Andy has got millions of bees, of
several different species, all being delivered to the farm ready for the
massive pollination task. First, the honey bees. For
centuries, we've relied on them to pollenate our fruit crops, and they
are still vital today. With advances in fruit production, they're no
longer enough. Andy has got such a high density of
trees, and the commercial value of his harvest is so great, so he needs
literally millions of bees. He can't only rely on the honey bees and the
local wild bees. He actually has to import more from abroad like these
bumble bees. Why can't you just rely on the wild
bees? There just are not enough of them. The wild bees living all over.
Who is to say they're not going to be in the hedgerow or down the road
somewhere on somebody else's crop. It needs millions of bees to
pollenate this farm. It is vital It needs millions of bees to
they're here and not elsewhere. Andy buys his bumble bees from a
factory in Slovakia that breeds them specifically to pollenate fruit
crops on farms right across Europe. Here, the Queen bees are selected,
mated, and then they lay their eggs. When the colony is big enough, the
bumble bees are boxed up, and shipped to farms like Lower Hope.
This practice is fully licensed by Natural England but still has its
critics. Do you have any conservation worries about importing
bees from abroad? No, no, they're a British sub speakers anyway, native
to this country. So they're not going to battle with our own
species? Not at all.What about disease? Again, the environment they
are produced in is very sterile, so I've personally got no concerns
about pests or disease. We need these bees to have a
successful harvest. Without these guys, we would have no cherries.
With the stakes so high, this year, Andy is also trialling a third
species of bee. He hopes it could have a significant impact on his
cherry harvest and help boost our native bepopulation too.
These are Mason bees, so-called because they build walls of mud in
their nest lick a stone Mason does. These are actually quite solitary
bees, but although you don't see them in big numbers, Andy has a
suspicion that they might be extremely efficient pollinators.
Mason bee expert Chris Whittall is releasing thousands of these native
bees into the orchard today. When it comes pollination, he believes the
nayson berules -- Mason bee rules. Why are these bees better? They have
a short life cycle, only perhaps six weeks, and that that time they've
got to collect the pollen to put in their nest tubes, to reproduce
themselves for next year. It is the natural life cycle that makes them
so ideal. As soon as these bees hatch, they mate. Then the males die
and the females go on an intense food-gathering mission, visiting
lots of flowers in a very short space of time. They have to collect
enough pollen and nectar to feed their developing young before they
die themselves. That is why Chris thinks they are
the most effective pollinators. But what will be the proof? How will we
know? We will see a lot more cherries, much better quality, and
they will taste beautiful. Just two days after we put the bees
out, the orchard came alive. Andy's bees were hard at work
pollenating the blossom that would pollenating the blossom that would
eventually turn into cherries. What is particularly lovely for me
is seeing the difference between just blossom on trees, all these
festoons of fruit and leaves. It looks so, so different? Yes, it
does, and it is a fantastic crop, as you can see. It is an enormous crop
of cherries. The bees all did their job but we were particularly
interested in the Mason bees. How did they perform? They did a
fantastic job. We are certainly going to extend the trial. So next
year, they continue their work? Very much so. We will be putting a lot
more bees in and over a wider area. It is very well having this bumper
crop but then you do need an army of people to harvest them. We do.
Handley, Gregg, even as we is learning how to do that with Bev.
All these little bits at the top, this is all next year's fruit, so
literally if somebody rips that off, that's next year's crop gone. How do
we pull without pulling the - You get the cherry, hold it by the
stalk, and you pluck them off like that. You must never touch the fruit
because the fruit will bruise with your fingers. Listen, I am going to
eat a few of these as I go round. You're not going to eat them. You
mean? If you're seen eating on the field, you will be sent off the
field and you will not pick again. I am a thirsty man in a brewery here.
All right! Rules are rules! Do you want come out? Yes. Make sure you
place them into your punnet. Don't drop them. Don't pick the ones off
the floor because that's dirty now. I think you're getting up to speed.
We need to put you in a team now. I tell you what, this is a hive of
activity. Hi. ,George. Nice to meet you. I am your new star picker.
Where do I start? This is your first tree, second tree. Please can you
stop your trolley here. My trolley is going to be going up and down
here so fast. You don't need to move your trolley. You stop where your
trees and that is it. This is your first. I've - oh. Please, you need
to start from the top of the branch. first. I've - oh. Please, you need
Yes, of course, I knew that! What do you do when the cherries are leaning
over the other side? You can just jump from the other side. It will be
easier for you to come here jump from the other side. It will be
here to pick them just like that. Just like that. These seem harder
than where I was before. What about this one? That is good?No, it's
not. Have a look on the side. You see? It has small marks on it. No,
no. No! I am nowhere near as fast as
Uruguays, and it seems that everybody really has their part in a
team. In your experience, what makes a very good team? The guys need to
be motivated to earn money and to helping each other. We are finish it
as fast as we can. After the pickers, there should not be any
fruit on the tree. It is hard work, and there is no way that you could
do this by machine. Philippa, who is always looking for the easy way out,
she's found a fruit that you can pick with a machine. Trust her.
Rob Saunders is the man in charge of buying 90 per cent of the UK's
blackcurrants. He's the chief taster for Ribena.
Only when Rob is happy the currants are ripe can the machines roll into
action on farmer Anthony Snell's field.
What is the verdict? They're black, there's the rig balance ofmuch
sweetness and acidity. They're ready.
The race is on for grower Anthony Snell and his team to harvest these
blackcurrants and at the time them to the press within -- and get them
to the press within 24 hours, otherwise they start to ferment.
Vibrating fingers at the front of the machine shake the blackcurrants
off without damaging the bushes. The fruit is caught by a conveyer that
takes it to the back of the harvester where it is sorted and
ready to be pressed into juice. How can you harvest fruit with a
machine because ordinarily it is so delicate that you need pickers? It
is a much more robust berry than strawberries and it is going for
juice, so it is ideal to be mechanically harvested. How much
does this machine cost? It is 100,000, but it's replacing 100
people. British growers grow o hundred thousand tonnes of
blackcurrants every year. Growing them in this climate isn't so easy.
blackcurrants every year. Growing Something isn't quite right in the
world of blackcurrants. At the pressing plant, harvest 2013 is more
frantic than ever. What normally takes six weeks is
being compressed into just five weeks.
The big freeze last winter meant the blackcurrants ripened all at the
same time, just like Andy's cherries. Now, the juice pressers
are having to work overtime. But long-term, the business faces a
more serious problem. Not boom but bust.
2013 has bucked the trend for warmer winters. In previous mild winters,
bushes didn't get the chill hours needed to make enough fruit, so
recent harvests were poor. Ribena have been working with fruit
scientist Dr Rex Brennan who might just have bred the answer on a
nearby trial plot: a new variety with a snappy name.
?CAPNEXT this seis 95212. It looks like every other blackcurrant bush
I've seen today but I am sure for you it's not. Of this it's not, but
it is a variety we hope will be released commercially and one of the
attributes it has is that it needs significantly less winter chilling
than some of the previous varieties. The big thing of course is the taste
of it. That consistency is important to us because people recognise the
flavour of the drink, and it can't change over time. For 95212 to
become part of Ribena's future harvest it, has to make it through
an expert taste panel. So I've help Rob harvest a sample ready for
testing by the professionals. Time to see if it makes the grade.
Try not to snort it! Really, the cranberry notes are pronounced. A
hint of boiled sweets. We're looking for that leafy almost catty - it is
called a ribese - When have you tasted a cat! The thing is no-one
has mentioned blackcurrants. I don't know what to make of that! Each
criterion is marked from one to five and averaged into a single score.
That is a magnifice 4.4. Final result. That is fantastic. What does
this mean for the future of 95212? It has held up really well. We know
it's well adapted to warm winters, and it tastes great. I think we're
very likely to release it as a and it tastes great. I think we're
variety. Does that mean growers like Anthony will be growing it
commercially in the future? This will be part of the future of
blackcurrants in the UK. I drink to that. Cheers. Best of health.
Cheers. It is actually really nice and quiet
and peaceful, just the rustle of leaves. Everybody is busy.I've
never known it been quiet with Gregg around. How are you doing?
Concentrating. Those guys have picked way more than you have. I've
just emptied two trays. Concentrating. That is the key to
keeping him quiet. I will remember that! Andy Andy, what is the most
difficult part of this whole process for you because obviously you're not
doing the picking, are you? No, just deciding when they're ripe. Who
decides? Every variety has its ideal colour. This variety, Sweetheart, is
best when it is this sort of colour, like a dark red. Like that. You see,
it's got lovely even dark red. Yes. Would you like to try on? You know
the answer to that. It's lovelying able to eat the fruit down here!
That tastes beautiful to me. That's exactly how it should be. It's
perfect. Do you get the supermarkets coming in and wanting to taste them
before you pick? We do get them visiting, but we tell them when they
are ready at the end of the day. There are only a couple of people on
the farm that can make that decision because it's a vital decision. So
presumably, if you got that wrong, and a whole row of cherries was
picked before it was ripe, it would be a bit of a disaster. Yes. You
see, there is a variation in colour within this tree, and it
see, there is a variation in colour like that, but this fruit, a little
bit red, if you would like to try that, you will notice the
difference. So - no flavour.No, nowhere near. That is
difference. So - no flavour.No, The difference is really, really
clear. So the art is to decide when the overall tree is fit to pick
because you're always going to get a few like this. There is a picking
window of maybe three or four days. So what is going on? What is
ripening and why is it so important to fruit? Plants create fruits for
one very simple reason: to spread their seed as far and as wide as
possible. The tasty fruit tempts animals to eat it.
The seeds inside the fruit pass through the animal's gut and are
deposited far away from the parent plant, but creating that fruit
requires a huge investment of energy for a plant. That apple contained
over a tablespoon of sugar which the plant had had to painstakingly
create using photosynthesis. plant had had to painstakingly
plants won't give up their fruits until the seeds inside them are
ready. That is why unripe fruit is so unappealing.
These unripe apples are dry and sour they are packed with carbohydrates
but they haven't been broken down into the sweet sugars that we can
taste. Until they ripen, most fruits are green so they're well
camouflaged within the plant. Once the seeds are mature, the plant
produces a syrupy smelling gas called ethylene causing the sweet to
become sweeter, darker, and much more appetising. For the plant, this
is the potential for a future generation, but for us, it is a food
packed full of flavour and essential vitamins.
Keep picking, boys! Quick, quick, quick, more cherries. I tell you
what, these guys work fast. As soon as I filled up these trays, they are
loaded up and they are off for processing. Now, I've been working
fruit and veg for over 20 years, and I am telling you, what they're doing
is picking these ripe and trying to I am telling you, what they're doing
get them to the supermarkets within two days. That is very impressive.
Fruit of this quality in that quantity, that is great.
Once the fruit leaves the orchards, it comes here to the pack house.
Every day, the team pack 25,000 punnets.
The cherries are chilled to slow the age willing process, and reduce the
risk of decay. Then machines wash and grade the
cherries, sorting them into their different sizes before they are put
into punnets. But every punnet must weigh the
same. The accuracy is really quite
impressive. Green light, go ahead. Now I've got to turn all the
cherries face down so the heat-sealed lids don't get punctured
by the stalks. When I buy these, I don't think about the person who has
lovingly packed them. Once they are chilled and packed,
the cherries have a shelf life of about five days.
Here they are. Clearly, the best ones were mine! Ready mine! Ready
for them to go to the supermarket for us to buy them. Every
fruit-laden truck leaving the farm advances Andy's dream: to help
revive UK cherry-growing, but how was this year for him? The weather
was kind through the winter until it went on so long it felt like spring
would never come. But Andy got the polytunnels up in
time to protect his army of pollenating bees, and they certainly
did their job. July's heatwave could have threatened the harvest, but by
venting his tunnels, Andy was able to make the most of the sun and use
it to ripen his bumper crop to make the most of the sun and use
deliciously sweet cherries. Now harvest 2013 is coming to an end.
deliciously sweet cherries. Now Andy and his team have picked 300
deliciously sweet cherries. Now tonnes of cherries, and there are
only a few small pockets of the orchard left to harvest.
It is really hard work in the pack house, and actually quite cold as
well. But it is very important that we keep the fruit as cold as
possible to extend its life. How about the picker here? He He wasn't
bad. He will get there slowly. You are tough! I know I am tough.The
toughest thing is noting allowed to eat them as you're picking. That is
torture. This is serious quality fruit. What sort of harvest have you
had? It's been a good harvest this year as opposed to last year with
all the rain. We had much better weather all through the season, we
had good yields, good quality, and we've managed to make a bit of
profit. What we need the money for is to reinvest. We like to keep
looking forward, looking for better techniques, better varieties, and
more cherries. I think that's lovely. That actually what you want
to be is the best you can possibly be. That's the philosophy of the
guys that work here, myself, and all the other guys. We try to do the
best job we can and be the best out there. The sun is going down now,
the end of the day, and the growing year for you? It is.Do you feel
satisfied? Satisfied, definitely. It is always a little bit sad, really,
to finish the season, but to be honest, the years go round, rather
rapidly, as we get older, and we will be starting to work towards
next season. I tell you what, well done, because I'll happily sit here
and gorge myself senseless. You're welcome to. It's not just the local
crop we're interested in, it is the national fruit crop as well. How did
that do? From early reports, we can make some predictions. Let's start
with our cherries. Like Andy, most cherry farmers are happy. The total
British cherry crop is three times bigger than 2012.
British cherry crop is three times Aroundthree and a half thousand
tonnes. But our cherries are still dwarfed by Britain's ever-expanding
strawberry crop. In harvest 2013, we grew 20 times
for strawberries than cherries. Those berries were bigger than
usual, and we are the too. -- sweeter too. Blackcurrants: after
a couple of lean years, after a good winter chill means our blackcurrant
farmers are smiling. It is still early days for the apple
harvest, but the picture looks rosy compared to 2012 when terrible
weather slashed our crop by a their. Harvest 2013 is almost back to
normal, thanks to the sunny summer. The apples may be a little smaller
than usual, but they're likely to be sweeter.
Our great farme are - our grape farmers are likely to celebrate. In
2012, they struggled to make 1 million bottles of wine. This year,
we estimate grapes are up, and up, and up. There is likely to be three
and a half million bottles of British wine if the good weather
holds. Cheers. Overall, then, the fruit harvest has
been good? In yes, I gather that the grapes exceptionally well. It's
going to be a vintage year so our friends down the road tell us. Can
we have a small celebration, then? Great. Particularly because apples
did so badly last year as well and the year before, so it is really
nice finally to have a good apple harvest. It must be nice for you
guys to get to the end of a day? Yes. Of course, although we are back
at it again tomorrow. Are you, Bev? Is that the case, you get to the end
of the harvest and the work doesn't stop? They go home and we start
cleaning for next year. Do you pull together or are you pushing them
along? A bit of both!Says Gregg with a taste of experience!
Well, what a year it has been. Better harvest than last year on the
whole, I think, but then of course we've only touched on just a few
crops really, and if you want to find out more, of course you can,
and you can get hold of this harvest leaflet. Go on to our website: It's
got more information, but also some rather lovely Gregg recipes in it.
It will also give you details of free harvest events near you. Get
involved. It's part of your heritage, and it is fantastic food.
It's been a really good harvest. It's been brilliant - absolutely
brilliant. Thank you very much. No problem. Cheers. Not going anywhere,
are you? No.We've got this, we've got this!
Right across our countryside it's harvest time. Gregg Wallace and Philippa Forrester are down on the farm revealing the results of this year's harvest as it comes in. This is the spectacular climax of the farming year, when fortunes are won or lost in the attempt to put food on our plates. Our farmers have spent all year carefully tending their crops helped by the very latest science, but they are still completely at the mercy of our fickle weather. Can they put a disastrous 2012, the coldest spring for 50 years and a scorching July behind them and work their magic to bring in a bumper crop?
In this third episode it's all about the 2013 fruit harvest, as we visit a pioneering cherry grower in idyllic Herefordshire. Gregg and Philippa join farmer Andy Hunt as his workers struggle to pick 40 million cherries by hand in just a few short weeks. The cherry was once Britain's favourite summer fruit but the traditional 20-metre trees were too tall for the speedy harvest demanded by the supermarkets. Amateur grower Philippa discovers how farmer Andy has nurtured remarkable new dwarf cherry trees over years to help bring about a revolution that's put British cherries back in our shops. Gregg joins the well-drilled squad of 250 pickers to discover how to harvest cherries quickly by hand without damaging the delicate fruit. Stefan Gates reveals why winter chill, pollination and ripening are so critical to a good crop. Gregg takes part in the Scottish strawberry harvest to discover if they can claim the sweetest strawberries in Britain. And Philippa discovers how blackcurrants must be harvested by extraordinary machines in a matter of a few hours before they ferment on the trees.
For the first time on TV, the series will reveal an early Harvest report for the UK, which will give an indication of which crops are likely to be the winners and losers in 2013. Fruit has had a bumper crop this year but which have been the sweetest of all? Harvest 2013 tells the story of food through the high and lows of a remarkable year of weather.
Harvest 2013 is supported by BBC Learning who have a produced a booklet to explain the science behind producing UK crops together with recipes from Gregg Wallace using harvest produce. The booklet will be available online at www.bbc.co.uk/Harvest.