With this summer’s scorching weather, British blackcurrant growers have had to set their alarms a lot earlier than usual as the heat threatens their already small window of opportunity for berry harvesting.
With more than 90% of all British-grown blackcurrants used to make Ribena, British blackcurrant growers have had to take radical steps to protect their fruits from spoiling in the heat – including harvesting at dawn or, in some cases, by night.
“Harvest is the most important time of the year for those involved in blackcurrant production,” said Harriet Prosser, agronomist at Suntory Beverage & Food GB & I, whose community of growers supply the blackcurrants for Ribena.
“We have such a small window of opportunity to pick these juicy berries; our growers have experienced some of the highest temperatures ever recorded in the UK this harvest and have gone above and beyond by opting for dawn harvesting and even night harvesting with lights to make sure the blackcurrants didn’t spoil in the heat.”
Suntory Beverage & Food is also taking further steps to help growers protect their blackcurrant crops in the future, by investing in the development of new blackcurrant varieties that are more resilient to climate change and weather fluctuations. With one such approach being the selection of varieties with larger leaves and a growth habit which provides more canopy shading to the berries, for greater protection against the sun.