Heatwave boosts bumper crop of watermelons

PUBLISHED: 08:06 14 August 2020 | UPDATED: 08:06 14 August 2020

The summer heatwave has helped Oakley Farms, near Wisbech, grow a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons for Tesco. Picture: Tesco/PA Wire

The summer heatwave has helped Oakley Farms, near Wisbech, grow a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons for Tesco. Picture: Tesco/PA Wire

A bumper crop of watermelons has been grown during the “best ever” growing season at an East Anglian farm – helped by the sunniest spring on record and the current heatwave.

The summer heatwave has helped Oakley Farms, near Wisbech, grow a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons for Tesco. Picture: Tesco/PA WireThe summer heatwave has helped Oakley Farms, near Wisbech, grow a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons for Tesco. Picture: Tesco/PA Wire

The 6,000 watermelons grown at Oakley Farms, near Wisbech, are larger than normal and the extra heat has helped to increase sweetness.

Grower Nick Molesworth said: “We’ve been producing watermelons for a few years now but this has been the best ever growing season because of the amazing spring we’ve just had and the heatwave we’re enjoying right now.

“We did plant more seeds this spring but that is no guarantee for the number of watermelons you’ll get growing on each plant.

“This year the fantastic spring warmth helped the seeds germinate and also develop a better root system than ever before, which made the whole plant stronger.”

The summer heatwave has helped Oakley Farms, near Wisbech, grow a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons for Tesco. Picture: Tesco/PA WireThe summer heatwave has helped Oakley Farms, near Wisbech, grow a bumper crop of 6,000 watermelons for Tesco. Picture: Tesco/PA Wire

The watermelons will go on sale at Tesco stores this weekend.

James Cackett, Tesco fruit technical manager and melon expert, has spent the last 15 years working with seed houses and British growers on developing varieties that are right for the UK climate and soil.

“Watermelons are still considered an exotic fruit that many people associate with palm trees and tropical island paradises rather than the British countryside,” he said.

“But the quality of these UK-grown watermelons is so good that shoppers will not be able to taste the difference from the imported ones we get from Spain.

“This year the great weather over the last four months has brought about a more consistent quality than we’ve ever had before.”

The supermarket chain said it had seen a near-20pc increase in demand for watermelons so far this year.

While the conditions have been perfect for exotic crops like watermelons, the dry spring and the summer heatwave have contributed to poor yields for East Anglia’s more traditional crops such as wheat, barley and peas.

READ MORE: ‘They are literally wilting in front of your eyes’ – Farmers race to harvest peas hit by heatwave

READ MORE: ‘Weather extremes are now the norm’ – farmer reflects on his worst wheat harvest

READ MORE: Micro-climates dictate farmers’ fortunes during a ‘disappointing’ barley harvest


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