How Louisa and David feel about this years harvest.

The Summer was a good balance of rain and sunshine for the orchards this year, but the size of the crop has taken us by surprise.  It’s always quite difficult to anticipate tonnage when we start trying to judge this from mid-June onwards and, after a pretty poor crop last year, we expected a good harvest. 

We’ve become used to starting around the 18th September nowadays, and we did so again this year, starting slowly with the earliest apples and cranking the machinery up after all the preparatory maintenance.  The orchards have exceeded our expectations by quite a wide margin, but by the half-way stage the weather has turned against us.  We’ve had an extraordinary amount of rain now, and the ground conditions are making it very difficult indeed to bring the apples in as all of our apples are harvested from the ground by a tractor-mounted sweeper.  The machinery is as small as possible for the orchards, but it still weighs a lot for water-logged ground and while the apples have to come in, we still always want to minimise ground damage which can have an effect long after this harvest.

The fruit fall is generally spread over a couple of months, but it seems that most of the fruit has all come down in a shorter than usual time which adds to the pressure to get the fruit in quickly.  Sugar levels (which determine the natural alcohol level) seem to be a bit low and it is likely that this is industry-wide, which will become clear when cider-makers chat over the challenges of this season.