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Core blimey! Mystery of the apple tree still holding on to its bumper crop .... in January!!


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Core blimey! Mystery of the apple tree still holding on to its bumper crop .... in January



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 2:09 PM on 25th January 2010




It's been the coldest winter for 30 years with fields and gardens disappearing under a blanket of snow.

For flora and fauna alike it's been a difficult time but one apple tree in Devon has emerged from the thaw with its bumper crop of fruit intact much to the bafflement of experts.

Typically, the apple growing season lasts from May to October with only a handful of varieties hardy enough to linger on until Christmas.

But for the second year running, this particular tree growing on a rail embankment near Exeter, Devon, still has a full crop late into January.



article-1245902-08022F63000005DC-33_468x600.jpg Hardy crop: A passerby reaches out for one for one of the apples



The variety has yet to be identified and Ben Pike, 52, a horticultural adviser for the campaign group Orchard Link, said: 'I can't explain how they've managed to survive the recent freezing temperatures.

'The earliest apples are ready to eat from the tree in August, for example the Discovery.

'And then there are the late varieties. Most of these are ready to harvest in late October, possibly early November.

'There are some which may fruit right up to Christmas, if it is mild enough.'

However, former Devon fruit farmer Chris Patt, 57, believes the crop was down to the tree's hormones.


'The natural mechanism in apple trees that make apples fall off is hormonal,' he said.

'There is a layer of cells where the apple stalk is attached to the twig which, under normal circumstances, receives a signal from the apple when it is ripe and ready to drop.

article-0-0801CEB7000005DC-834_468x674.jpg Winter fruit: The crop has survived the harshest winter for 30 years


'After this signal the cells wither away and the apple falls. So I can only assume that the apples on this particular tree aren't sending the right signal.

'I would only expect to see the odd apple at this time of year, certainly not a whole tree full, so something is definitely amiss. I would put it down to the genetics of the tree.'

Jane Schofield, 52, also of Orchards Live, said: 'It is a very magical thing to see apples in January. I am very surprised they haven't fallen off throughout the cold weather.

'But there's no reason why they shouldn't be edible unless they've been frozen solid. They're likely to be quite hard so I wouldn't stand underneath the tree too long.

'Early cultivaters were quite clever in spreading the apple season out over the year, but normally late apples are picked by Christmas. So although there are some varieties that will last later, it is unusual to see apples on the tree at this time of year. It's not unique, but definitely intriguing.'

Taxi driver Brian Allison, 63, said: 'In 12 years of driving in the area, last year was the first time I've seen apples in January.

'I took a photo of the tree and showed some friends in the pub who all thought it was weird for there to be apples now.

'We were all in agreement they wouldn't last long and were bound to drop off in the frost.

'But you can't get much colder than what we've just experienced.'

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