I’m not normally a man who is gushing in his comments but if I had to choose one word to describe the orchards and how they were looking last autumn it would be magnificence. A tour at the end of August took me to a number of our farms growing several different varieties of apples and pears and quite simply everything looked as close to perfect as possible. I would have loved for my Dad who started the business nearly 70 years ago to have been with me, as he would have been thrilled.
The level of management on our farms and the uniformity of this management across the business means that all of the trees were carrying a superb crop.
To get a quality and sizeable crop, the management of the trees is vital. By 2020 we will have planted one million new trees and nurturing these young orchards so they grow for the future is so important.
I feel we have the best team in the world managing our orchards. I’ve travelled to see many different orchards around the world and I truly believe we are leading the world with our ability and production levels.
As well as having uniformity across all our farms, we are aiming for a balance. A balance of growth on the tree vs. the crop it produces and a balance with nature. Many of our orchards are surrounded by woodland and this serves to help protect our trees and provide a rich habitat for local birds and wildlife.
Every fruit tree carries on growing so every two years we have to carefully select the leader branch, choosing a weaker branch to ensure the tree doesn’t get too high. Growing apples and pears is very hands on, very instinctive and we need to be as attentive from tree to tree, row to row, orchard to orchard. People are often surprised to find out there is as much going on in our orchards in January as there is when the trees are in full blossom in the spring.
Quite simply for our business to keep growing, we need to ensure we grow as much fruit as possible on each and every tree, without harming it for future years. This isn’t something you leave to chance and it takes a whole team effort, working together to create this level of quality.
I’m proud of our achievement and I hope you enjoy all the goodness and taste in each one of our apples and pears, which you can enjoy for many months to come from Sainsbury’s stores around the country.