The boss of Belvoir Fruit Farms says he is keeping his fingers crossed for a bumper harvest and another record year.
Pev Manners, managing director of Belvoir, based at Bottesford, is hoping that sales of the company’s bottled drinks will rise by 10 per cent this year.
I am keeping my fingers crossed for a very good year.Pev Manners
Last year the business sold a staggering 19 million bottles with many sales going overseas to Europe, Asia, America and Australia.
Mr Manners was speaking as he made his annual call to pickers to help bring in this year’s elderflower harvest, which is scheduled to arrive by May 26.
He said: “I am keeping my fingers crossed for a very good year.”
The ongoing popularity of elderflower drinks and the growth in sales for the family-run business means Belvoir sold record amounts last year and has invested £4.5 million in a new bottling factory.
But success still hinges on the willingness of volunteers to help by picking the elderflower by hand.
Keith Challen, farm manager, has been working closely with a local weather expert who uses the lunar cycles and sea temperatures to predict what the weather will do and its impact on the elderflowers.
He said: “It’s been a funny season this year. Three weeks ago we had slower than average growth due to the lack of rain but now we have faster than average growth thanks to the combination of recent heavy rainfall and sunshine.
He said: “It is fascinating how nature has just balanced it all out and we’re now right back on schedule for what I think will be a very good harvest.”
From May 26 Belvoir Fruit Farms is open from 3pm to 6.30pm, six days a week for pickers to bring their blossoms to the weighing point at Barkestone Lane, Bottesford. Elderflower collections will also be accepted at Sacrewell Farm Centre just off the A47 near Peterborough from May 26 between 3.30pm to 5pm.
Belvoir Fruit Farms needs more than 50 tonnes of elderflowers or three million elderflower heads to produce the cordial and pressé for the coming year.
This has to be achieved in a very short time as the elderflower harvest only lasts four to six weeks.
It means there is an urgent need to recruit as many people as possible to help pick the frothy blossoms that erupt throughout Belvoir’s own 84 acres of elderflower bushes, but also those growing wild in the hedgerows across the countryside.
Belvoir invites anyone to join in, but it tends to be folk from the surrounding counties; Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Cambridgeshire who take part.
Belvoir offers pickers £2 cash per kilo and an experienced picker can harvest up to 45 kilos of elderflowers a day.