BUMPER crops of tasty fruit are being reported by growers across the county.
Fruits such as apples, pears and plums are ripening as long as four weeks early, with some UK fruit farmers reporting the best harvest in 20 years.
According to experts from the Royal Horticultural Society, the autumn is coming early for some plants following the unusually warm and dry spring.
While this has meant some forests have produced a spectacular array of red, brown and green leaves, consumers have been able to enjoy traditional English fruits earlier than normal.
British strawberry growers have already reported harvesting quadruple the amount of fruit in some weeks this year than in the same weeks last year, with noticeably sweeter results.
Claire Birch, owner of Doddington Hall, said there had been about twice as many plums harvested in the grounds this year compared with last year.
She said: "Apples are definitely early this year and we have had a fantastic crop of plums.
"I would say varieties of English apples are two to three weeks early this year. The plums taste really good this year, they’re really delicious.
"The runner beans and French beans are looking good too.
"It’s good for beans at the moment. It’s certainly a bumper year."
Mrs Birch said products made from fresh fruit grown on the grounds had been selling especially well this year.
She said: "Last week, fruit and vegetable sales were up 39 per cent on the same week last year, and sales were up 24 per cent for the week before."
Andrew Widd, head gardener at Auborn Hall near Witham St Hughs, said he had noticed a substantial increase in the amount of fruit nuts on his grounds.
He said: "We’re not as bad as RHS Wisley but things are early.
"The fruits on the trees are coming out a little bit early.
"It’s been a good year for apples, but it’s also been a good year for nuts.
"Our beech trees are crammed full of nuts, we’ve had a lot of apples and the plums are hanging to the ground on the plum trees. It’s definitely a good year for fruit.
"It’s just because of the weather and the conditions this year.
"We had a warm spring and, although it’s been showery this summer, there hasn’t been heavy rain.
"The trees are a little worried because they’re under stress and are producing more fruit. It’s a survival technique for trees."
Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser at the RHS, said change in leaf colour was due to dry soils.
He said: "There is a five inch soil moisture deficit this summer, despite some wet weather pushing it down to four inches for a week or two, so trees and shrubs are under water stress."