Cider producers across Somerset weigh up damage as floods recede

Somerset's cider apple growers have been assessing the damage to trees following the winter's prolonged flooding.

Sheppy's Cider of Taunton had 90 per cent of its orchards in standing water for two months, said owner Louisa Sheppy. "In the past the trees that were most affected were the those around eight or nine years old. The more established trees seem to cope better, though it also depends on varieties, with Dabinett being the most susceptible for us."

She added: "One of the biggest problems now is that we are five or six weeks behind on winter pruning as the ground has been too wet to put machinery on."

Somerset Cider Brandy Company's Julian Temperley said: "We are keeping our fingers crossed. It is too early to say how much damage has been caused. It's a combination of wet, temperature, variety, rootstock and ability of the soil to cope. But it's the wind damage, particularly to our standard trees, which we have had to deal with over the past few months."

Orchard Network of Excellence manager Gilly Pollock said the network is helping the area's growers share best practice and preventive measures such as summer pruning. "Our next training event at Sheppy's Cider will look at nutrient management of orchards, something that will be relevant after all the waterlogging and nutrients leaching from saturated soils."

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