Somerset cider makers’ fruitful sales lead to thousands of new trees planted

Thatcher’s Cider

Thatcher’s staff have been out planting over 25,000 new apple trees over the last few weeks, to meet the growing demand for their cider.

Two apple varieties, Dabinett and Jonagold, have been planted this season. The Jonagold is an important ingredient in Thatcher’s Haze, being the apple that provides the natural cloudiness in this cider.

Martin Thatcher said: “This year we’re planting 25,000 new trees on new land and within some existing orchards. It’s always an exciting time of year when many of our Myrtle Farm staff help out in the orchards. This spring we’ve been aided by the mild and dry weather.

“We’ve been planting two of our favourite apple varieties this year. Dabinett which we use in a number of our ciders is a classic cider apple that brings richness and body. The second is Jonagold, which is a sweet dessert apple that our cidermakers love for its crispness.”

Martin, who planted his first apple tree at the age of 5 at Myrtle Farm, always joins the orchard team during planting. His children, Eleanor and Peter, are also keen to play their part during school holidays and weekends.

As well as cultivating apples in their own orchards, they have several long-term contracts with specialist growers throughout the South West.

Martin continues: “They all make a valuable contribution to our cidermaking process, helping us deliver sufficient quantities of apples into our mill at harvest time to meet the demand for our ciders all year round.

“Over half of all the apples grown in this country are used to make cider. But with apple trees taking six or seven years to start cropping fully and orchards lasting around 40 years, planting orchards now is a long-term commitment for the future and a responsibility that we here at Thatcher’s we take seriously.”