We’re out in the orchards for our 2023 harvest!
For the next few months our orchard team will be hard at work bringing in the apples for pressing into our beautiful ciders here at Myrtle Farm.
The mix of abundant sun and rain throughout Spring and Summer has really been of benefit to the trees. The fruit is looking healthy and plentiful, containing just the right balance of acidity and sweetness to press into the perfect cider.
As always, amongst the first apples to come into the mill are our deliciously rosy Katy apples.
Chris Muntz Torres, our farm manager, who looks after our 500 acres of apple trees in and around Myrtle Farm, says, “The good weather in Spring meant our apples got off to a good start with an effective pollination thanks to our amazing bees. In fact, our Katy apples have developed so well we’ve been harvesting them a few days earlier than in previous years.
“After Katy, towards the end of September, we’ll begin to see the early bittersweet apples ripen, such as Somerset Redstreak, Gilly and Hastings. They’ll benefit from the sunshine and warmth we’re now experiencing – cider apples love a mild autumn to help them ripen slowly and develop their unique flavours.
“With the sun ripening the apples and helping boost the fruit’s natural sugar levels, the recent rain has also been feeding the trees and giving them much needed nourishment. Importantly, the warmth of the sun helps develop the tannins in our bittersweet varieties, giving depth and body to our ciders.”
In fact it’s been a pretty near-perfect year for the apples. Apple trees always need a spell of cold weather to break their dormancy over winter, and at the beginning of the year we had sufficient low temperatures to reset growth and wake the trees. This was followed by a period of warmer weather and plenty of moisture in the deep, rich Somerset soil to allow the trees to do their work.
Chris continues, “At Myrtle Farm the signs are right for a bumper harvest this year. That’s both in terms of quantity, and just as importantly, quality, meaning the very best, tastiest apples in our ciders.”
Thatchers has apple orchards throughout the West Country. Here apples are grown for our range of Somerset ciders. We are one of the few cider makers to have a regular orchard planting programme, allowing us to meet the increasing demand for our ciders, as well as working with apple growers throughout the region who provide specific apple varieties under long term partnerships.
One of the important things we look at when planting new trees is the timing of harvest, to make sure that the arrival of apples is spread out throughout the season.
“We press our apples as soon as they arrive at the farm to capture them at their freshest. So having different varieties that ripen at different times allows us to have a continued supply of fruit from August through to November,” he concludes.
With the weather conditions in Somerset providing a perfect climate for apple growing, it’s not surprising that the county has become the home of cider making, with Thatchers seeing record sales to help it become the UK’s fastest growing cider maker.