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Weather in Britain brings bumper autumn crops

The countryside in Britain is experiencing a bumper – if early – autumn with a plentiful supply of fruits, seeds and berries as a result of the extreme weather this year.

The National Trust’s conservation adviser Matthew Oates said spring-flowering trees and shrubs had benefited from the hot, sunny spring which had boosted blossoming and pollination by insects.

Plants had also enjoyed rainy weather at the height of summer which has allowed the berries to ripen, providing a bountiful crop for wildlife and people.

But the record-breaking dry spring, and the ensuing drought, coupled with an unusually cool and cloudy summer has caused many trees to show their autumn colours early.

Hawthorns, blackthorns which produce sloes, elders and holly trees have all produced prolific berry crops, while beech trees are laden with nuts and orchards are bursting with fruits including apples and pears.

Mr Oates said: “They flowered and pollinated well and then they got some rain for swelling – if the drought had gone on they wouldn’t have swelled, and the trees would have dropped their fruit.”

The acorn crop has been so good this year that in the New Forest commoners were putting out their pigs to graze on the nuts to prevent ponies from eating too many, which would prove toxic for them.

But later-flowering trees such as the ash and sycamore, which were hit by the coolest and cloudiest summer for almost 20 years, have not had such a good season.

And it remains to be seen whether there is a good blackberry crop, Mr Oates said, as the brambles flowered in July during the poor weather, but could still benefit from a warm sunny September.

“The big thing with the blackberries is they need some Keatsian weather. So far they’re late, they haven’t got going yet, and it all depends on whether we get a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”

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