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Climate breakdown could cause British apples to die out, warn experts

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Classic British apples may die out and be swapped for varieties from New Zealand and Japan, as climate breakdown means traditional fruits are no longer viable.

Apples such as pippin or the the ancient nonpareil, grown in Britain since the 1500s, are struggling in the changed climate because there are not enough “chilling hours” for the trees to lie dormant in winter and conserve energy for growing fruit.

Scientists at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, are planting 40 apple trees, a third of which are heritage varieties that once grew in its Georgian kitchen gardens. Another third are new varieties bred to need less cold over winter, and the final third are from warmer countries including South Africa. The varieties will be compared to see which has the best crop in London’s warming temperatures.

In January, the Met Office announced that 2022 had been the sixth warmest year on record, and it looks as if 2023 will be another record-breaker. But though many crops are affected by the summer’s intense heat and drought, apple trees are struggling because they need a period of cold over…

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