Even at Wimbledon, Scottish strawberries from Angus are a hit

Playing hard ball with soft fruit

Now the season is being extended at Angus Soft Fruits

The strawberry season traditionally starts with Wimbledon in the first week of July. But times are changing. Strawberries are now eaten all year round, and the fruit served at Wimbledon is generally grown in Scotland rather than England.

The Scottish industry provides a fifth of all berries eaten in the UK and has a reputation for quality. Some of the best fruit farmers are in Angus, where the temperate climate and long summer days provide excellent growing conditions. In the past the fertile soil also helped but nowadays most strawberries are grown on tables to make picking easier. Raspberries, too, are grown in coconut coir and compost in pots due to a UK-wide soil infection that rots the roots. Most of the fruit is grown under polytunnels or glass to minimise damage from rain and pests.

In the past, the Scottish strawberry season lasted six to eight weeks between May and September. Now it stretches further round the calendar. The season starts under glass or in heated polytunnels in March and runs all the way through to November.

John Gray, Technical Director at Angus Soft Fruits, insists that berries taste just as good outside of the traditional season. He argues that breeding has allowed growers to ensure berries are just as sweet grown early or late in the season. The development of biomass means it is cheaper to heat polytunnels and LED lights can boost production of sugars.

'Of course fresh berries in season are wonderful,' he explains, 'especially if you can eat them locally. But we can now provide fruit that also tastes good out of season and with all the health benefits. And the demand is all year round.'

Angus Soft Fruits

East Seaton Farm, Arbroath, Angus, DD11 5SD

Ten years ago, the Seaton System was developed by a team of farmers working from East Seaton Farm, near Arbroath. This system of table-top polytunnel growing, that allows fruit and vegetables to be grown free of pesticide residues, has produced a…