Apple sector has lots to celebrate
NORTHERN Ireland's apple industry looks set to enjoy another good year on the back of a growing demand from both processers and juicing companies for its produce.
The latest business signalling its intent to procure local bramleys is the Ballybofey-based Mulrine Beverages.
"This is further good news for apple growers," Northern Ireland Fruit Growers' Association secretary Dermot Morgan told Farming Life.
"Demand from the processing sector remains strong and the market for bramleys in shops and supermarkets is also vibrant. So the industry is in reasonable shape at the present time. This is reflected in the continuing renewal of existing orchards. Research into orchard design, new root stocks and the application of cutting edge technology at centres such as AFBI Loughgall continues apace. This is all extremely positive. Confidence at producer level also remains high, all of which bodes well for the future of apple production in Northern Ireland."
He added: "The industry, however, remains heavily reliant on the weather. Apple blossom has already started, which means that fruit will start to set over the next fortnight. A heavy frost during this period could do serious damage to harvest prospects for 2009."
Almost 55,000 tonnes of apples were produced in Northern Ireland last year with a farmgate value of 8.1 million. After processing and juicing etc, the value to the overall economy was around 25 million.
But the continuing growth of the sector is not the only reason why local apple growers have a spring in their step at the present time. This year also represents the bicentenary of the Bramley apple. The chance discovery of a seedling – the Bramley Seedling – near Southwell in Nottinghamshire, laid the foundation for the local apple industry which we recognise today. A total of 60 seedlings were introduced to Co Armagh by the Nicholson family from Cranagill in 1884. The rest, as they say, is history
In order to celebrate the Bramley's 200th birthday the Fruit Industry Federation, the Northern Ireland Fruit Growers' Association, AFBI , Armagh District Council and the Ulster Farmers' Union have joined forces to organise the Armagh Bramley Blossom Fair. The event will take place this coming Friday and Saturday in the Manor Estate and Country Park, Loughgall. The itinerary includes cookery demonstrations with Darina Allen, orchard tours and guided walks, bramley apple produce to sample and buy, family fun activities and the Bramley Blossom Golf Tournament.
"We will also have a marquee dedicated to displays of the latest orchard management machinery and sprays," confirmed Fruit Growers' Association chairman Bertie Anderson.
"The two day event will have something for everyone. There is free entry to the fair itself. Tickets for Darina Allen's cookery demonstrations are priced at 15 and are available from Armagh Tourist Information Centre on 028 37521800. We kick off at noon on Friday and go right through until 9.00pm. On Saturday we start at 10.00am with the event winding up at 6.00pm."
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Friday 24 May 2013
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