Bob finds a bank who likes to say ‘yes’ as he plots a major replanting programme at his Fenland orchards

14:20 02 July 2014

Photo left to right: Peter Beckwith, Barclays Agriculture Manager, Bob Littlechild , Littlechild & Son Ltd,  Mike Osborn, Barclays Business Support; Mark Littlechild, Littlechild & Son Ltd

Photo left to right: Peter Beckwith, Barclays Agriculture Manager, Bob Littlechild , Littlechild & Son Ltd, Mike Osborn, Barclays Business Support; Mark Littlechild, Littlechild & Son Ltd

Archant

An extensive orchard replanting programme to capture the growing demand for English dessert apples is under way near Wisbech.

Fruit farmer Bob Littlechild invited his bank manager to visit after they backed him in his expansion bid.

A Barclays spokesman said: “Planting a new orchard is a long term investment. It usually takes three years before there is any significant crop and up to seven years before full cropping potential is achievable.

“Meanwhile varieties come and go adding the risk that what was fashionable at time of planting is no longer in demand.”

Littlechild & Son Limited, based at Leverington, initiated the expansion to ensure the farm moved with the demand for more English dessert apples rather than culinary varieties.

Mr Littlechild said the business, now into a fifth generation with his son Mark joining the team, remains committed to growing excellent quality fruit.

He said: “Approximately one third of the farm has been replanted in recent years and this placed a strain on the company’s finances.

“However, Barclays provided the funding to enable us to continue move forward. The replanting does not guarantee success but it provides us with a platform to build on.

“We deliberately limit the crop on the younger trees to promote growth but the yield from the Gala trees planted in 2010 tripled from 2012 to 2013 and we expect yields of over 30 tonnes per hectare in the near future.”

He said fruit growing is an uncertain business. In the short term each year’s yield is in the hands of nature, one frost or hail storm can wipe out a crop. From tree to supermarket shelf, apples and pears must be handled with care.

And picking (all done by hand), storing until there is sufficient demand, grading, packing and distribution all provide opportunities for product to be damaged and fall short of strict supermarket quality standards.

Mike Osborne, Business Support Director at Barclays said “With Bob’s experience as well as Mark’s enthusiasm and determination, it is a real credit to them both that they have been able achieve significant increased harvest yields and prices with the excellent quality of fruit being grown.

“They should reap the rewards for their hard work for some years to come.”

0 comments

Comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Wisbech Standard visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Wisbech Standard staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Wisbech Standard account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

15:51
Ivars Mezals and Juris Valujevs were arrested in October last year in raids carried out as part of Operation Endeavour.

Two men have been found guilty of exploiting migrant workers as part of an illegal gangmaster operation in Fenland.

14:14
Tinkers Drove, Londis store, Wisbech

Retailer Londis has reminded its shopkeepers to sell stamps at the legally set price after a Wisbech shop was caught selling them at 32 per cent above the fixed amount.

Ruth Neave and Gary Rogers.

A former ITV journalist who covered the Rikki Neave murder 20 years ago has revealed that a Cambridgeshire police officer demanded payment for tipping her off that Ruth Neave was to be arrested for murder.

English language success by Wisbech college at Cornerways Nursery

After a ten week English language course delivered by the College of West Anglia Isle campus, Wisbech, over 60 workers from Cornerways Nursery in Stoke Ferry have received their certificates of completion.

Most read stories

Most commented stories

E-edition