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Gathering crops to make Cider of the future

As harvest continues at Myrtle Farm, amongst the apples being collected are those from a special “100 Tree Trial”, that has seen 10,000 new trees of different apple varieties planted in Somerset.

So called because the trees are planted in rows of 100, Chris Muntz-Torres, our orchard manager explains,

“These are varieties that have either done well in our Exhibition Orchard, or have a reputation for producing excellent cider. This is the first time that the trees have been grown in the hedgerow style that Thatchers has developed, where the trees are trained along wires and shaped to allow more sunlight to reach the growing fruit. We’re looking forward to seeing how these varieties perform under new conditions and how the fruit presses into cider.”

Being the first year of planting, the crop of apples on these new trees is at early stages, but they’ll still be producing sufficient fruit for our cidermakers at Myrtle Farm to produce a small amount of cider from them this year. Normally an apple tree needs around seven years for it to start cropping fully.

The apples that are being trialled include: Bloody Turk (a dark red skinned bittersweet apple, originally from Herefordshire), Broxwood Foxwhelp (a medium bittersharp apple dating back to the 1920s, producing a full bodied juice), Muscadet de Dieppe (a small bittersweet fruit with an orange red skin), and Cider Lady’s Finger (a mild, sharp apple, originating in South West of England).

Throughout our orchards, the harvest is now underway with early varieties including the rosy red Katy apple.

“The prospects for this year’s apple harvest are looking good,” continues Chris. “With plenty of warm sun, and rain during August, the fruit is ripening nicely and we are expecting a good crop of large, juicy apples. With the bittersweet varieties we grow this helps the tannins add depth and complexity to our ciders.”

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