Classic British apples may die out and be swapped for varieties from New Zealand and Japan, as climate breakdown means traditional fruits are no longer viable.
Apples such as pippin or the the ancient nonpareil, grown in Britain since the 1500s, are struggling in the changed climate because there are not enough “chilling hours” for the trees to lie dormant in winter and conserve energy for growing fruit.
Scientists at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, are planting 40 apple trees, a third of which are heritage varieties that once grew in its Georgian kitchen gardens. Another third are new varieties bred to need less cold over winter, and the final third are from warmer countries including South Africa. The varieties will be compared to see which has the best crop in London’s warming temperatures.
The crucial word there is that third last in that quote. OK, so the temp will change in London. As it will in Brum, in Sheffield, Newcastle, Dundee and Thurso. Thre is currently a temp gradient as we go north, as there will be in the future. At which point specific cultivars of apples will do best 10, 20, 50 miles further north than they do now. As Scotland isn’t well known as a source of apples we’ve quite a large space to move them into as well.