A NEW type of blackcurrant specially designed to thrive in the UK's warmer winters is due to be harvested for the first time.

Some 75,000 bushes of the new variety of blackcurrant, named Ben Lawers, are fruiting for the first time this year after 20 years of research, scientists said.

The new berry can grow without a cold winter as Britain warms due to climate change.

Usually, blackcurrant bushes need a ‘winter chill’ in order to bear fruit in the summer.

But, as British winters have been getting warmer, it has become more difficult for farmers to grow.

The new climate resilient berry was designed to overcome this hurdle by thriving in the slightly warmer conditions.

Ben Lawers, named after the 4,000ft peak in the Scottish Highlands, is said to taste the same as usual blackcurrants.

It has been developed by Lucozade Ribena Suntory, which uses 90 per cent of Britain’s blackcurrants to make Ribena, and the James Hutton Institute.

Farmer John Hinchliff, from New House Farm, in Chartham, Kent, is of the 35

farmers across the UK to be able to grow the fruit and says the new berries means this year's harvest has been a huge success.

He said: "It has behaved exactly as we all thought it would so we are very pleased.

"We’re about 25 pere cent of the way through the harvest and we’ve got three to four very long weeks ahead of us.

"All we need now is for the sun to shine, but not too much.This year we have a great crop so the blackcurrant juice is great and it's also good from my point of view because if we have another mild winter, I know that the crops will still be good."

Researchers from the James Hutton Institute, based in Scotland, are responsible for the groundbreaking work which started in 1956.

Mr Hinchliff says thanks to them, this year he is able to harvest more than 150 acres.

He added: "Many years ago when we always had cold winters it wasn't

a problem.

"Now we are gradually going to phase out the crops that prefer the cold and adopt more of the new berries.

"They will probably be in the ground for somewhere between 10 and 15 years by which time either the bushes will get old, or there will be another challenge that us farmers have to face.

"They are constantly breeding the varieties so that in another three or

four years time, the next 'superduper' one will not only put up with global warming, but also the next challenge whatever that will be."

More than 10,000 tonnes of blackcurrants are harvested in the UK each year,

The £10million crop is grown by farmers across the UK from Somerset to Dundee, with more than 10,000 tons harvested in July and August.

Lucozade Ribena Suntory has invested more than £10million in the project, including £500,000 towards climate change research.

The company’s Harriet Prosser said: ‘Harvest is always the most exciting time of the year but this time around and it promises to be doubly rewarding.

"This year's weather has demonstrated why we need to be on the front foot in adapting to a changing climate."