Orchard managers, apple growers and cidermakers from all over the country gathered on 1st August for the annual National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) Orchard and Machinery Day. This year, emphasis was on the importance of orchard management in producing the consistently high quality of fruit it needs in its cidermaking.
Hosted by Thatchers at their Shiplate orchard around 250 people from across the industry came along for the event. Gordon Johncox, NACM Chair, opened the orchard walk with an update about the cider market and NACM priorities to support a return to cider category growth. During the walk guests heard from industry experts in varying aspects of orchard management, and the importance of healthy orchards and apple production.
Advice on topics such as soil analysis and nutrition, hedgerow planting and the importance of fruit quality were shared by the Thatchers team, alongside experts including agronomist Matt Greep and cider apple expert John Worle.
Also attending the day were a number of PhD students currently taking part in the NIAB-EMR programme, supported by the NACM. Dr Louisa Robinsorn-Boyer from NIAB EMR gave an update on the importance of the joint industry PhD programme and the essential research that the students will carry out on cider apples over the course of three years.
The importance of long term research was again demonstrated by seeing the rows of newer apple varieties such as Angela, Lizzie and Prince William. These have been developed through research and innovation for many years, by the NACM and its members, extending the apple season and adding more flavour variety into the UK grown cider apple crop.
“Bringing the apple growing and cidermaking communities together in an event such as the Orchard and Machinery Day helps everyone understand the issues we as an industry are all facing – from politics, the changing market to climate change – so we can continue to make excellent products that people want to buy,” concluded Richard Johnson, quality manager at Thatchers Cider.