Following our stroll around John's lovely orchards in Worcestershire last weekend, I can now give the Rockingham Forest Cider long-range crop forecast for the season ahead*
Yarlington Mill (Bittersweet) - Last year we had a very good crop from two mature trees, the other three trees having an 'off' year. All five trees are in full blossom this year, and we expect Yarlington Mill to be our main cider variety again, with plenty of our Red Kite single variety cider available in 2012.
Dabinett (Bittersweet) - One or two trees are showing very well, but these are all quite small, so modest crops expected.
Bulmers Norman (Bittersweet) - This tree appears to be fully biennial, giving nothing last year, but looking to be cropping well this season. Bulmers Norman is not considered a 'vintage' variety, giving quite 'hard' tannins more suitable for blending.
Sweet Alford/Sweet Coppin (Sweet) - These trees cropped very heavily last year, and we're expecting a much smaller crop this season. Very useful varieties with good flavour, can also help tone down the harder tannic qualities of some other varieties.
Kingston Black (Bittersharp) - The three Kingston Black trees are back to their usual showing after last years bumper crop. We're expecting a bucketful or two. Incidentally, the 2010 Kingston Black ciders are still fermenting!
Tom Putt (Sharp) - Reasonable crop, good aromatic multi-purpose apple, Timing is critical with this one as they tend to rot easily on the orchard floor.
Green Horse (Sharp) - This tree seems to be a very regular cropper, carrying a good, or excellent crop every year we've been coming to the orchard. This year looks like being a good crop.
Blakeney Red (Mild Tannin) - Patchy this year, with perhaps only enough fruit to make a small batch of perry, or possibly enough for blending with other varieties.
Malvern Hills (Full Tannin) - There are several huge Malvern Hills trees in the orchards, and it looks as if they may be carrying the best crop we've had from them yet. Malvern Hills perry is strong, and quite tannic so may need blending with a milder, or sharper perry.
Red Longdon (Full Tannin) - Little or no crop this year.
Other Perry Pears - There are sevearl unknown perry pear trees dotted around the orchard, all high tannin varieties, and for the most part carrying a good crop. We think this should be a good year for perry pears.
* Crop forecast is for guidance only. True cropping levels could be higher or lower than the figures quoted. This crop forecast is given for one specific orchard in Worcestershire, other orchards may differ. We can accept no liability for crops failing in other peoples orchards.