IRELAND is savouring its best fruit harvest in a decade with bumper crops of apples, plums and pears.
The hot summer critically combined with strategic seasonal rainfall to boost yields, with the apple harvest, in particular, set to deliver a bumper crop.
Growers in Cork, Tipperary, Wexford and Waterford indicated that yields this year will be almost 50pc up on 2012.
Last year, apple yields in some areas were down by almost 70pc due to the miserable weather. Nationally, the harvest last year was down by over 30pc on 2011.
However, growers are now celebrating a bumper crop – and soaring demand for all types of organic fruit produce.
But Ireland's largest cider producer, Bulmers, said the bumper harvest wouldn't have any impact on price.
Bulmers said that the stockpiling of apple juice had helped 'de-seasonalise' its market and minimise the impact of bad harvests.
Bulmers – whose cider operation is based in Clonmel, Co Tipperary – said it kept over 18 months of fruit juice stockpiled in giant storage tanks. This ensured that while the poor 2012 harvest didn't impact on either cider prices or supply, similarly the bumper 2013 harvest wouldn't have any short-term impact.
"The 2010 and 2011 harvests were quite good so they compensated for what was a disappointing harvest last year," a spokesperson explained.
Bulmers grow a total of 17 different apple varieties with the harvest now under way and expected to continue until late November.
Ireland is currently on course to record one of the best apple harvests in Europe, with fine weather even extending to the fruit collection campaign.
Gilbert's Orchards in Carlow stressed that the heat over June and July was expected to deliver exceptionally sweeter flavours for apples, juices and preserves. "Apples need sun and rain to grow and become juicy," an official said.