Welcome to the eighty fifth National Fruit Show. It’s such an incredible achievement that a society of volunteers can deliver a consistently beneficial, high quality promotional event for so many years in such a turbulent and constantly evolving sector.

The show this year is no exception, in fact in many ways it will be delivering more than many of its predecessors. The fruit competition remains at the heart of the event, the tastiest apple class is expected to be hotly contested after all the warm weather we enjoyed in the summer. Entries are expected to be strong as this year’s prize is based around technology, environment and crop management and is a three year package worth £10,000 to the winner. The prize from Hutchinsons will optimise inputs and yield by using technology to understand the resources required to grow high quality top fruit and provide insight in orchard management. The prize will be made up of five components

  • Healthy Soils assessments and reports – A full, in-field assessment on the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the soil. This includes a VESS (Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure) cropping review, infiltration assessment, soil health and texture, key organisms, pH and key nutrients it is the only test to look at available and total nutrition.
  • Omnia nutrition planning service – A full nutrition service based on available nutrition, including compliance and real-time data. This provides a nutritional plan for maximising yield and optimising fertiliser use. Other essential parameters can be measured such as organic matter, cation exchange capacity and micronutrient
  • Omnia mapping service – A field mapping service to measure and record changes in soil and nutrition to help you plan and manage inputs to get the best from your orchard. This also provides a variable rate fertiliser application map, and when used with yield-mapping can calculate cost-of-production data across an orchard.
  • TBC – But will involve further orchard technology – For example, yield prediction and sizing service, digital crop monitoring or pest monitoring system.
  • Agronomic support for the results arising from the soil and mapping and analysis allowing you to put results into practical use.

This year is all about celebration, along with our mighty anniversary there are a number of significant celebrations elsewhere in the show – and you need to visit the John Breach/BIFGA stand for a start who have some great prizes to be won as part of their celebrations.

And for our own celebrations? Well firstly thank you to our sponsors; the dinner is bigger, brighter and in a new format thanks to the support of Orchard World, Hadlow College and South East Farmer magazine.

Jamie and I have been asking about having a band so we can dance after the dinner for a number of years and he’s taken matters into his own hands and sponsored the amazing Hullabaloo to play for us. The dance floor has been booked, the lights will be amazing, there will be great music and we are looking forward to seeing who the best dancers in the fruit industry turn out to be! Our customary formal MC has been replaced by Chris Rose and in place of the after dinner speaker we have two auctions. We will have a barrow of bottles as the first auction prize (stop by the education stand and the ladies will be happy to provide an envelope and a pen to help you enter) we will also have an auction of some spectacular prizes run by Nigel Stewart for us, if you love English sparkling wine this is going to be a great opportunity for you! We have also been donated the most enormous bottle of sloe gin, if you’re a fan it’ll keep you happy for several winters.

So to conclude – if you haven’t booked your stand please ring the office today, if you’ve not booked the dinner, again ring, we’ll always try and find a space for you, don’t forget to book online for your free entry ticket: www.nationalfruitshow.org.uk During the prize giving on Thursday we will be toasting both the winners and the society with Biddenden sparkling wine and sharing some delicious cake with you all. See you at the show!

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