This year will be a good one for strawberry lovers as British growers have announced their crops will be earlier, bigger and sweeter than in 2013.

Thanks to the fifth warmest winter on record, home-grown strawberries will be hitting supermarket shelves three weeks earlier than last year.

It has also been estimated that there will be a 10% increase in strawberry production compared to 2013 and that the berries will be sweeter and juicier, reports British Summer Fruits, the industry body that represents 98% of berries in supermarkets.

The plentiful spring sunshineat the start of the year has increased the speed of photosynthesis allowing plants to produce more sugars than this time last year, experts have said.

Also, more British strawberries are now being grown under glass, reducing the need for imports. Last year members of British Summer Fruits supplied just over 46,000 tonnes to supermarkets whereas this year there will be 51,000 expected.

Laurence Olins, Chairman of British Summer Fruits, says, ‘The first British strawberry of the year is the ultimate indicator that summer has arrived. This year strawberry fans can indulge in the treat even earlier than usual, and can look forward to an abundant supply right through to the autumn.

‘More and more producers are growing strawberries in protected conditions, under glass or tunnels, so that the strawberry plants aren’t exposed to the vagaries of the British weather to ensure first rate quality.’

For more information, visit the Seasonal Berries website here www.seasonalberries.co.uk

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