UK Floods 2014

Key cider county Somerset was badly affected by floods

Cider makers are monitoring orchards to assess how much damage the recent flooding and storms have done.

Many orchards have been affected across the key cider counties of Somerset, Devon, Dorset, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and the National Asso­ciation of Cider Makers said there was likely to have been “significant” tree loss.

“The true damage will only become apparent in May and June,” said NACM spokesman Simon Russell. “The longer the recovery and draining takes, the more of a risk there is.”

Somerset-based Thatchers said it had lost trees, but that it was too early to say what effect the weather had had on this year’s harvest. Hereford-based Westons added that although many of its orchards were waterlogged and the situation was “concerning”, trees could recover if there was a dry period.

However, there would undoubtedly be some damage to trees, said crop production specialist Hutchinsons, with younger trees more likely to have suffered.

The weather was also likely to have disrupted the planting of new orchards, said NACM.

Louisa Sheppy of cider producer Sheppy’s added that the threat of further flooding was likely to affect how businesses invested. Sheppy’s had spent from £15,000 to £20,000 draining a field in order to give a new orchard the best chance of success, she said. “The situation is affecting how people are planting. People will want to protect their investment.”

The president of the All-Party Parliamentary Cider Group, MP Bill Wiggins, this week submitted an Early Day Motion calling for abolition of the duty escalator on cider.

He said the industry’s fortunes were in “desperate need of reviving” after the floods and that its abolition would offer “essential” relief.