A SPOT of fine British weather is helping deliver an early apple harvest with growers promising shoppers a crop with "great crunchiness and lots of taste".

This year's apple harvest is set to start three weeks earlier than in 2013, with early varieties already ripe for the picking, according to trade association English Apples & Pears. The mild spring and warmer sunny weather has meant good news for all types of growers, with stone fruit such as plums and cherries, and pears all doing well.

English Apples & Pears chief executive, Adrian Barlow, said: "Last year we had a very late crop, and we lost shelf space, and that made life difficult.

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"But this year, all told, things are looking very promising for the coming season.

"Quality is extremely good, we've had a lot of sunny weather, meaning taste will be very good, and the texture and colour will be extremely good.

"As far as the shopper is concerned they'll be very happy with the eating quality. The apples will have great crunchiness, lots of taste, and a good size."

Early varieties set to appear on shop shelves include Galmac, Delbar ­Estival, followed by Worcester Pearmain.