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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
UK farmers grow continental crop
Walnut trees
Richard Dain planted his walnut orchard four years ago
Walnuts - usually a continental crop - are being grown in Kent and farmers say the move is because of climate change.

Orchards in Sevenoaks that were once used to grow apples and pears have been planted with walnut trees because the fruit did not generate enough profit.

Farmer Richard Dain said the move was because of increasingly warmer weather.

"With global warming, it struck me they would be easier to grow. I took a gamble and think I've won. The trees are making good progress," he said.

He said the production of apples and pears had become less lucrative because of competition from abroad and strict European regulations on how the fruit should be grown.

Walnut processing
Most walnut supplies still come from France and Italy

Walnut trees have grown in Britain for thousands of years, but he said that warmer weather had made the sunshine crop more reliable.

William Opie, who runs a walnut processing plant in Sittingbourne which takes most of its supplies from France and Italy to hand fill 750,000 jars each year, said UK farmers could benefit.

Mr Opie, of Bennett Opie's, said: "We are buying 200 tons a year of walnuts and at the moment we are sourcing approximately two tons from the UK.

"It seems to be a good opportunity for farmers to start growing them."


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