Due to late frost in spring, some orchards, and especially those at lower altitude, had a reduced crop but other orchards fared better.
The warm, bright summer months resulted in optimal growth and the final yield was better than initially anticipated. While much of 2021 harvest has already been packed for the retail trade, or processed into pie fillings, a considerable tonnage has been put into cold storage and will be used to supply customers until apples from 2022 harvest are available. During the months of lock-down, many people went back to baking and cooking, thereby generating a good demand for high quality Bramley.
Producing consistently high yielding crops of quality fruit year after year is an ongoing challenge for Bramley growers, requiring close attention to soil nutrition, disease control and other aspects of agronomy and fruit storage. The industry has had to adapt to changes, becoming less reliant upon pesticides and continually reviews all aspects of production to ensure a sustainable supply of high quality fruit. Growers are increasingly reliant upon soil analysis, leaf analysis and fruitlet analysis to determine the exact nutrient requirements of the growing crops.
Every year growers are encouraged to enter their best orchards into a competition organised by Northern Ireland fruit Growers’ Association (NIFGA). Awards are keenly contested as the judges look at every aspect of the growing Bramley crops including yield, freedom from pest and disease, orchard weed control etc.
Results of the 2021 NIFGA Orchard Competition as follows:
Aberdeen Challenge Cup - Best orchard, 5 acres or more: 1st Graham & Jonathan Hewitt, 2nd David Jackson
Gibson Challenge Cup - Best orchard between 3 and 5 acres: 1st Graham & Jonathan Hewitt, 2nd David Jackson
Mc Caig & Webb Challenge Cup - Best orchard between 1 and 3 acres: 1st David Jackson, 2nd John Beggs
Murphy Challenge Cup - Best orchard between 1 and 3 acres, which has not won a cup in the last 4 years: 1st Hamilton Loney, 2nd John Gilpin
Raymond Price Memorial Trophy - Best intensive orchard between 1 and 3 acres: 1st Graham & Jonathan Hewitt, 2nd Herbie Sullivan
RH McClelland Cup - Best intensive orchard of 3 acres or more: 1st Dermot & Terry Morgan, 2nd John Beggs
Syngenta Plant Protection Cup - Orchard with the highest state of crop husbandry, especially freedom from diseases and pests: 1st John Beggs
Yara/Phosyn Cup - Orchard with the best fruit analysis in terms of storeability: 1st Hamilton Loney, 2nd Dermot & Terry Morgan
NIFGA are very appreciative of the time taken by the judges, Kieran Lavelle (CAFRE) and Malcolm Dawson (formerly of AFBI) to judge the 2021 orchard entries and congratulate all the winners. They encourage all their members to enter orchards into the 2022 competitions.