Quantity down but quality will be up for cider drinkers, says top grower
In a miserable year for apple growers and cider-makers, one hardy traditional Westcountry variety has provided a little ray of sunshine.
The Kingston Black is usually to be relied on for its unreliability, according to Julian Temperley of The Somerset Cider Brandy Company and Burrow Hill Cider.
However this year his orchards near Kingsbury Episcopi are heaving with the crisp, deep red fruit in spite of the fact that dozen of other varieties have barely blossomed.
"In a year of doom, the Kingston Black has exceeded our wildest dreams," said Mr Temperley.
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In common with countless other apple growers, Mr Temperley said his Pass Vale Farm has suffered from the terrible weather.
"We have about 40-50 varieties of apples that we grow," he said, adding that the yield of all but the Kingston Black was down by 50%.
"The Kingston Black is the only variety that is looking anything like normal for this time of year.
"It has done remarkably in what has been a remarkably bad year.
"We have 178 acres and there is nothing else looking anything like it."
The Kingston Black is an important English hard-cider apple variety, producing a bitter-sharp juice. It is a traditional Somerset variety and mainstay of the cider industry.
Mr Temperley, whose daughter Alice is a fashion designer favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, said the Kingston Black was known for being "contrary."
"It's normally rather haphazard in terms of its cropping so such a good yield is a good news story in what has otherwise been a bad year."
There is a bright side to the generally poor apple harvest, however. Mr Temperley said: "We will certainly have a lower volume than last year, but I do think the quality will be superb."