Leading article: Gather ye apples while ye may

It may not be a bumper year, in quantity, for English apples – though branches across the land are groaning.

It is, though, a vintage year; the apples are smaller and unusually sweet, thanks to the particular combination of sunny spells, cold snaps and rain.

But those without an orchard, or even a single tree of their own, might well wonder where all these glorious apples are. They are not, for instance, much in evidence in many supermarkets, and where they are, the economics are bewildering. The growers receive £1.50 a kilo. How come then that, even at this time of year, we have to pay as much as when they are imported from the southern hemisphere? If the crop is so plentiful and the trees are right here, why are our own apples so elusive? Memo to growers: why not bring them to town by the lorry-load and cut out the middle man. And to apple-lovers: why don't we storm the orchards and help ourselves?

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