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Bumper blackberry bonanza predicted as Autumn takes hold

[Tuesday 10 October 2006]
ripe blackberry fruit
Dales set for bumper blackberry crop

IT'S a sure sign that Autumn is here when blackberry pickers become a common sight across the Yorkshire Dales; and this year a bumper crop of autumn fruits is predicted.

The bumper harvest prediction comes as thousands of people take part in the Autumnwatch survey run by the Woodland Trust and the BBC.

Later flowering this spring meant that late frosts did not kill off flowers, starting the development of a bumper crop. A record breaking hot July followed by the wet spell in August has provided prime conditions for fruits like blackberries and hawthorn berries to ripen early.

Blackberries - often known as brambles - have always been a late-summer early autumn fruit but now, like many wild fruits, they are ripening earlier and earlier.

Climate change means this trend could continue, which could cause problems for animals that rely on stored energy from autumn fruits to help them hibernate later on.

Despite the early fruits, scientists warn that other classic autumn events are actually getting later. Dr Kate Lewthwaite from the Woodland Trust says: "While we've had some reports of early blackberries, the later signs of autumn, like leaves changing colour, are actually happening even later. With spring arriving earlier and earlier, the seasons are getting more muddled."

autumn beecj=h leaves
A golden autumn

Kate continues: "We've already had thousands of people sending in their reports of the first signs of autumn but we still need more people to help give us a detailed picture of what is happening to autumn across the UK. We particularly need people to look out for their first ivy flower and first ripe conkers.

Autumnwatch is the biggest survey ever of the first signs of autumn and the initiative is part of the Trust's work to monitor the impact of climate change on our plants and wildlife. Volunteers are urged to note the timing of ripe blackberries, migrating swifts, ripe hawthorn berries, first oak leaf tint, conkers, and flowering ivy.

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