Experts predict sweet summer for North Devon fruit fans

Strawberry growers, including Jasmine Chesters of the Ashford Inn Fruit Farm and Nursery, are reporting a super start to the season this year. Strawberry growers, including Jasmine Chesters of the Ashford Inn Fruit Farm and Nursery, are reporting a super start to the season this year.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
1:53 PM

Strawberry fans are in for a treat as year kicks off to a great start for fruit farmers.

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Strawberry growers, including Jasmine Chesters of the Ashford Inn Fruit Farm and Nursery, are reporting a super start to the season this year.Strawberry growers, including Jasmine Chesters of the Ashford Inn Fruit Farm and Nursery, are reporting a super start to the season this year.

STRAWBERRY fans are in for a real treat this summer – according to industry experts and local fruit producers.

This year’s ‘home-grown’ strawberries are set to be sweeter and tastier than ever thanks to a mild winter and warm spring.

The season is well under way at the Ashford Inn Fruit Farm, near Barnstaple, where owners have reported an ‘exceptional’ start to the season – with much sweeter berries.

Owner Jasmine Chesters said: “We’ve had moderate seasons the last few years – and a reasonable time last year – but this year has been one of the best starts we’ve ever seen.

“We always start picking by the last week of April but this year we started picking the first two polytunnels a week earlier.

“We stagger planting every couple of weeks but they are coming on quite quickly.

“We’ve already started pick-your-own,” added Mrs Chesters

British Summer Fruits, the industry body that represents growers supplying berries to UK supermarkets, says plants are generally stronger this year, producing a larger, sweeter and juicer crop.

The Ashford Inn Fruit Farm, on the Braunton Road between Braunton and Barnstaple, grows the Elsanta variety of strawberry and produces fruit until the start of October.

“Our strawberries are certainly sweet – if I could get an Ashford strawberry I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” said Mrs Chesters.

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