Why Cold is Gold for the Cider

01-03-2018

More Rain, More Milk Sir

My wife’s Grandfather was a dairyman who milked his cows out in the fields. When it rained the churns got a little top-up from mother nature. Making the best of the weather helps, on days like this. I’m offering a new one – “A blanket of snow & apples will grow”

Last night I was sharing a glass of cider by the fire at my local with a friend who happens to be one of our biggest apple growers. Whilst our fellow drinkers cursed the cold – he blithely offered to get the next round of drinks in. A man not famous for stuffing the barman’s till with his own money was always going to raise an eyebrow. “Every night at -5 is worth 50 tons of apples” Sid tells us. So it turns out I was buying the drinks…

As an organic farmer, the value of the chill does not escape me, it delays injurious insect emergence and hugely depletes negative bugs in the soil. Its a great cleanser. It also has the effect of tightening up the spring of nature’s alarm clock. “Chill units are as important as heat units in the world of top-fruit” I was reminded by Richard Heathcote at this weeks Orchard Network of Excellence Growers conference, arranged by the NACM – a hugely important annual conference in the world of orchards, and real cider makers.

It’s the recoiled spring that the winter cold snap helps so much with. It recharges the tree’s batteries and aligns their timing. This ensures a consistent blossom emergence, which in turn gives us a nice tight harvesting window – which means great quality fruit and therefore cider.

So whilst we warm our hands on the tractor exhaust out pruning our frozen trees, we can take heart that this sub-zero plunge will be filling many a sparkling glass with exceptional cider in the year to come. Cheers!