Cider farmer awarded industry scholarship

A cider apple grower from Herefordshire is one of 19 people to win a 2011 Nuffield Farming Scholarship, which seeks to raise standards within the industry.

Stephen Ware of Throne Farm in Hereford was chosen to take part in the 10-week study programme, which sees all of the winners travel to a conference in New Zealand at the end of their two-month study period to meet other Nuffield scholars from across the globe.

His study theme is "how to remain competitive within the UK top fruit industry", a topic that fits into the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust's (NFST) themes for 2011 of sustainability of production, food marketing and finance.

Ware has been a grower for a decade. His scholarship is sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and the Three Counties Agricultural Society. He told Grower: "I wanted to break out of my own little world and take stock of what I've got and where I go from here.

"Where does the future lie? Where should I concentrate my efforts?" He explained that he will, for example, be analysing the performance of different planting schemes and varieties.

He said: "Do I plant new varieties or not bother and are there opportunities within my existing orchards to do things more effectively? Where should we concentrate our efforts?"

Ware grows some 4ha of standard orchards for cider and 25ha of bush cider orchards. He also grows 18ha of dessert apples.

NFST chairman Jack Ward said: "Our scholarship has long played an important role in generating the talent and new knowledge to raise standards and promote excellence within a wide range of farming and rural industries.

"It has also gained the reputation of developing people and new leaders of tomorrow who are able to drive our industry forward. The pressure is on over the next decade. If there was ever a moment to stand up and shout about the importance of Nuffield, along with its ability to shape and define key figures for an agriculture of the future, then it is now."

This year's scholars also include farmers, farm managers, consultants, advisers and a forester. The scheme is in its 60th year.

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