Late autumn should herald bumper crop of fruits and berriesf for foragers, says Woodland Trust
Autumn is set to be late this year, but when it arrives it should bring a bumper crop of fruits and berries in the countryside, according to the Woodland Trust.
The autumn fruiting is expected to be delayed as a result of the late spring, but the recent warm weather means wild berry crops will flourish, according to early data collected by the public the Trust’s nature’s calendar project.
The promise of a bumper autumn is good news for wildlife, which suffered in the face of exceptionally poor crops of wild fruit last year when trees and shrubs were affected by the washout summer, and then were hit by this spring’s cold snap.
Records for 16 species of trees and shrubs collected since 2001 show that 14 including beech, holly and brambles or blackberries last year saw their worst season for fruiting since the turn of the century, with many recording only meagre crops.
Dr Kate Lewthwaite, the nature’s calendar project manager, said: “Although our records suggest that autumn fruiting will be late this year due to the delayed onset of spring flowering, if the warm weather interspersed with occasional wet spells continues, this should mean the fruiting of shrubs like bramble, rowan and blackthorn is abundant.
“Wildlife species will no doubt benefit from a bumper crop, and finally fruit-eating birds and mammals will be able to enjoy an autumn feast.
“Last year, birds and mammals suffered some of the poorest fruiting crop in years and this, coupled with the prolonged cold snap in spring, meant that many species had to endure a long period without a decent food supply.”
She urged members of the public to take part in the nature’s calendar scheme to record the changing of the seasons, which helps experts understand how wildlife is adapting to the changing environment.
The number of citizen recorders has been falling year on year, and the Woodland Trust wants more people to sign up to contribute to the project which has records dating back to the 17th century.