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Orchard Day in Somerset

Over 300 apple growers and cider making professionals from all over the UK joined us at Thatchers Cider in the stunning surroundings of our Shiplate apple orchards  for an industry orchard and machinery day. Organised in conjunction with the National Association of Cider Makers, the day is an annual event that gives apple growers the chance to meet cider makers in an orchard environment, network with suppliers and hear the latest orcharding advice from industry experts.

This is the first time we have hosted the event, giving us the chance to introduce visitors to an extensive orcharding trial that is now in its fourth year. 40 acres of the Shiplate orchards were planted in a new hedgerow style in 2010 by John Thatcher, and two years later the remaining 100 acres was planted – with some 70,000 trees, the largest trial of its kind in the UK.

By planting in this new way – as opposed to the widely used bush orchard method – the trees grow to around 9 ft in height and are planted 5 ft apart. The size and shaping of the young trees enables us to use our new straddle harvester, which harvests the apples by shake and catch, thus further protecting the quality of the fruit by eliminating any contact with the ground.

John told guests that he believes that trialling in this way is the right way forward for the cider industry. “We believe that harvesting apples off the ground is not an option for the future, so this major trial will be of immense value. Here at Shiplate we are growing some of our favourite apple varieties, such as Dabinett, Tremlett’s and Somerset Redstreak, while also introducing some newer varieties such as Angela, Lizzie and Prince William.”

31 exhibitors were also present at the orchard day, all of whom work within the orchard and cider industry.

John Thatcher, third generation cider maker who has introduced a significant trial of 140 acres of orchard of the new hedgerow style apple tree.

Sam Denning, apprentice at Thatchers Cider, currently studying at Holme Lacy College in Hereford, who has responsibility for managing the new orchards at Shiplate.


For further information, contact:

Penny Adair, Tel: 0117 9040173

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