Weather threatens conker season

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CONKER season may be disrupted this year as the dry spring weather takes its toll.

Experts from the VisitWoods project have warned that blackberries could ripen early because of the unseasonably warm weather, but the crop could suffer in quality due to the driest spring since 1910.

And conkers could meet the same fate.

Nature Advisor Professor Tim Sparks said: “The weather has remained warm and sunny all through spring so the blackberry harvest will be early, but unless we get a significant amount of rainfall, the crop may not be as plentiful and plump as we’d hope.

“The average date for horse chestnut flowering in the UK has been as late as May 22 and the earliest was April 18, 1945.”

He added: “It looks like 2011’s average will be April 19 so this may encourage early conkers, but if the dry weather continues it is likely to be at a loss of quality and quantity.”

The VisitWoods project, which is a partnership of the Woodland Trust, National Trust, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts and the Forestry Commission, is appealing to the public to record their first sightings of ripe blackberries and the yield of the crop to add to its data.

For more information log onto www.visitwoods.org.uk