We’re planting more than 3,200 apple trees in Somerset this Spring as we continue our programme of growing new apple varieties for cider making.
A commercial trial of 16 different varieties of dessert apple is being planted in Christon, with these new trees all selected for their potential suitability to cider making.
“The varieties we are planting are all early ripening, eating apples that will provide a sweet juice, suited to light, crisp apple ciders,” explains our fourth generation cider maker Martin Thatcher.
We always select the apples we use for our premium ciders carefully and have championed the research and commercial trials of varieties new to cider making over recent years. Growing apples for cider making is a long-term commitment, with young trees taking at least six or seven years before they crop commercially.
Varieties being planted this Spring include those that have been grown previously in our Exhibition Orchard, as well as those new to us and our cider making, which we have been trialling on a small scale for a number of years. Aurora, Delbarestival, Fuji September Wonder, Robijn and Court of Wick are just a few of those being trialled, selected for their growing habits and fruit quality.
“We’ve also worked closely with the expert growers at Frank Matthews Nursery to select the varieties that will grow on these beautiful Somerset slopes. As cider makers it’s important we look ahead and grow the style of apple that suits the ciders loved by our customers,” continues Martin.
“With the popularity of light, crisp apple ciders, as well as fruit and flavoured ciders, we’re beginning to grow more apples that are best suited to this style of drink, whilst also continuing to increase our orchards of bittersweet cider apples that are integral to traditional ciders.
“Once the trial is underway, which features 200 trees of each variety, we will be able to start using the fruit in our cider making, growing selected varieties in greater quantities as we go forward.
“Planting more orchards contributes to a sustainable future, creates valuable wildlife habitat, as well as enhancing the local surroundings,” says Martin.