Apple tree plans start bearing fruit

15 June, 2007

Scottish & Newcastle UK is to plant 400,000 apple trees in the next three years for its Bulmer cider business.

The trees will be planted over 485ha in Herefordshire and will be known September-harvesting varieties to help extend the mill season.

Managing director John Dunsmore said: "Since S&N acquired the Bulmers business in 2003, we have virtually doubled production at Hereford. Preserving a strong link with our growers in and around Hereford is an important part of future cider business, and long-term investment in the local economy will lead to a sustainable supply of high quality apples."

It takes apple trees some four years to produce their first commercial crops and S&N and Gaymer Cider Company, in its previous incarnation as Matthew Clark, invested in orchards even when cider's fortunes were flagging, according to the National Association of Cidermakers.

"From about the mid-1990s to 2002, between them they planted 3,237ha of new cider apples. For traceability, security of supply and because they wanted to use English-grown fruit and support the rural economy they decided to make what was quite a significant investment," said NACM spokesman Simon Russell. "It was quite a brave move."

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