Cider drought? Not likely, say Somerset apple growers

Chard & Ilminster News: A small orchard is swamped by floodwater. Photo: Adam Gray/SWNS A small orchard is swamped by floodwater. Photo: Adam Gray/SWNS

CIDER drinkers won’t be left dry-mouthed this summer, despite reports that devastating flooding has left the country on the brink of a drought.

Heavy rainfall since the turn of the year has swamped acres of orchards across Somerset, threatening Britain’s booming cider industry.

Media reports have warned of a drought due to the damage to trees, but Somerset apple growers believe cider lovers will still be able to enjoy their favourite tipple.

Julian Temperley, of Somerset Cider Brandy Co at Kingsbury Episcopi, remains optimistic despite seeing some of his 170 acres under water.

He told the County Gazette: “We’ve had a dreadful winter and a lot of trees have taken a battering, but it is going to take more than a flood to stop the Somerset cider industry.

“Trees will have suffered a lot over the winter and the full extent will be obvious over the next six months.

“However, we are not talking a game-changing amount and to say there is going to be a drought is undoubtedly alarmist.”

Chard & Ilminster News:

Julian Temperley, one of Somerset’s most famous apple growers, with wife Diana at an orchard on his cider farm last summer.

Somerset is one of the most well-known apple growing spots in the country but flooding on the Levels has damaged many trees.

Experts say just 14 days underwater can destroy an apple tree's root system.

Mr Temperley added: “I would expect to see a lot of trees looking a bit sad and some will cheer up, but some will give up the ghost.

“This is probably the worst we have seen it but the harvest finished before the wet came. It might affect next year’s crop a little but we are not talking devastation.”

Louisa Sheppy, owner of Sheppy’s Cider at Bradford on Tone, played down talk of a drought but said the industry will be “holding its breath.”

She added: “I have no doubt people will be expecting to lose trees and it may be a more significant amount than we have seen previously but we just don’t know yet.

“We don’t flood here but we have heavy soil and some of our trees have been sat in water over the winter, so we may lose some but we’re not sure how many.”

Chard & Ilminster News: TOP CROP: Apples can be pickled

The National Association of Cider Makers wanrs crops may not live up to expectations for the next few years.

Chairman Paul Bartlett said: “We hope for the best though recognise that the potential impact could seriously affect the income of growers this season and for several years to come.”

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