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We are involved in hop and apple new variety trials which is crucial for both industries. It’s a combination of searching for desirable flavours and attributes, whilst also searching for sustainability and disease resistance.
If you caught our appearance on Countryfile back in September, you’ll have heard all about our “secret trial plot” for hops – click HERE and watch from 48.38 to see a glimpse of the plot and the hops themselves. This secret plot is where we keep our trial varieties – known by numbers only. Each year, the trial varieties are reviewed for many factors, and it is decided which ones to continue to grow. It’s a long process, that can take several years, sometimes decades, to select something commercially viable.
If you head to certain rows in certain orchards, they look a little less uniform than others, and this is because they are full of trial apple varieties. Much like hops, we are trying to find the next best apple which encompasses several traits. Taste is important of course, but we are searching for apples that store well, meaning we can provide amazing British Apples year round, and ones that have disease resistance, especially to canker – a debilitating disease caused by a fungus, which destroys the tree’s yield capacity, damages the fruit and means that we have to remove the tree from the orchard.
We have recently planted an orchard of Junami apples – a particularly delicious variety, and a few rows of Sunburst – this apple’s unusual light skin and pink flesh and has been very popular. You can read more about the planting of these apples HERE. We have rows of Gala apple clones too – varieties with names like “Big Buks” which we are trialling to see what their pest and disease resistance is like and reporting back to the apple industry.
We also have trial varieties for Frank P. Matthews which they have been investigating for taste and disease resistance amongst other factors before they add them to their portfolio.
Being involved in development of future varieties of both hops and apples is crucial to keep the industry moving forward. Providing a product which is delicious for the consumer, but also has good credentials for the farmer is essential, and we are lucky to be driving change where we can.