The current heatwave together with the warmest UK spring on record has helped bring about a bumper crop of British watermelons.
The first of the crop of 6000 watermelons, produced by Cambridgeshire grower Oakley Farms, based in Wisbech, will go on sale exclusively at Tesco stores today (Friday August 14).
The extra heat has not only helped increase sweetness levels but also made these watermelons larger than normal.
Tesco fruit technical manager and melon expert, James Cackett has spent the last 15 years working with seed houses and British growers on developing varieties that are right for the UK climate and soil.
James Cackett said:“Watermelons are still considered an exotic fruit that many people associate with palm trees and tropical island paradises rather than the British countryside.
“But the quality of these UK grown watermelons is so good that shoppers will not be able to taste the difference from the imported ones we get from Spain.
“This year the great weather over the last four months has brought about a more consistent quality than we’ve ever had before.”
Watermelons are currently more popular than ever with Tesco seeing a record-breaking near 20 per cent increase in demand so far this year.
Grower Nick Molesworth of Oakley Farms said that although the watermelons are grown undercover if the outside temperature is not warm enough, it will seriously affect growth, quality and sweetness levels.
Said Nick:“We’ve been producing watermelons for a few years now but this has been the best ever growing season because of the amazing spring we’ve just had and the heatwave we’re enjoying right now.
“We did plant more seeds this spring but that is no guarantee for the number of watermelons you’ll get growing on each plant.
“This year the fantastic spring warmth helped the seeds germinate and also develop a better root system than ever before which made the whole plant stronger.”
The British watermelons will be go sale in around 100 Tesco stores and will cost £2.99 each, the same price as the imported variety.