NATIONAL TRUST cider expert Rachel Brewer has predicted a strong year for cider and apple juice, with late summer rains producing a sweet and juicy apple crop.
The pommelier and gardener manages ten acres of orchards at Barrington Court, Somerset, where over 90 varieties of apple trees grow.
Ms Brewer said: “The apple juice this year is some of the best we’ve ever made. I was worried that too much summer sun would stunt our crop but the rain came at a crucial moment late in the season, leaving us with lovely sweet and juicy apples.
“There may be some sore heads in Somerset this winter; sweet apples means that our cider will be strong,” she added.
The National Trust cares for more than 100 orchards across the country and the fine summer has resulted in a good apple harvest at many.
- 700 volunteers have helped rangers on the Killerton Estate, Devon, collect a bumper apple harvest. They have collected roughly eight tonnes of apples. The fruit will produce 4,000 litres of the Devon estate’s award-winning cider – enough to fill 22 bathtubs.
- At Gibside, near Newcastle, gardeners estimate that they have already collected a quarter tonne of apples, with up to two more tonnes of fruit thought to still be on the trees.
- Acorn Bank, near Penrith, has enjoyed one of their best apple harvests ever. Chris Braithwaite, head gardener at the Lake District estate, puts the success down to warm May weather.
- In Wales, gardeners at Llanerchaeron in Ceredigion have seen the number of apples sold through their shop triple compared to last year.
Matthew Oates, our nature and wildlife expert, said: “This year’s apple harvest has come good. Spells of warm weather occurred when the trees were flowering in late spring. Followed by summer rains and late summer sun, it has resulted in a good crop. It doesn’t top last year’s harvest, which was the biggest for twenty years. But it’s still very good news for cider drinkers and the wildlife that benefits from winter windfall apples.”
Orchards and the National Trust
- We care for more than 100 orchards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Orchards are an important habitat for various rare insects, birds and plants, including golden eye lichen, the noble chafer beetle and invertebrates that depend on mistletoe.
- Since the 1950s more than 90 per cent of England’s orchards in England have been lost.
- In January apple-lover Henry May donated his collection of almost 300 cider apple trees to the National Trust. Described as the ‘national collection’ of cider apple trees, it had taken Mr May 13 years to develop.
- The donated varieties included Slack-ma-Girdle, Netherton Late Blower and Billy Down Pippin. The trees are being planted in our orchards across South-West England.
Many of our places will be marking Apple Day on 21 October. For information on all our apple related events visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/autumn-apple-days-and-festivals.