DNA analysis of local varieties – our part in the national review – and an update

We have, as many will know, been taking part in a national initiative using DNA analysis to rationalise and better understand local varieties – how they relate (literally!) to one another and whether some are identical to others.  And, where they are identical to others with differing names (perhaps in other areas) which name should take precedent,

This has been a challenging project, requiring leaf samples from named varieties being sent to labs, particularly East Malling Research centre in Kent, for analysis.  The project is not ours – though several people from the GOT committee are involved and we are significant contributors of samples – it is a national initiative we are helping with.  Updates on progress overall can be found on the FruitID website’s help pages: https://www.fruitid.com/index.html#help – click on Register of LocalCultivars for documentation.

But where, after 3 years or so of work, have we got to in Gloucestershire?

Well, we do now have new and revised lists of Gloucestershire apple and pear varieties – some details of which rock the boat a little – we have fewer ‘Gloucestershire’ varieties than we thought!  But that’s to be expected when everything is compared using DNA – there are bound to be matches and competing claims.

The revised listings (as at the end of November 2019) are now available on the varieties part of our website – https://glosorchards.org/home/fruitvarieties/research/

Display boards installed at Longney Orchard

Our display boards are now installed in the barn at Longney – following sterling work by Stuart, Pete, Ann and Keith who had to battle quite a lot of mud to get onto the site.  Our thanks to all of them.

These are the boards used at the Folk Museum two years ago – always intended for Longney afterwards, and now they’re there!

Picture by Pete Smith

Juicing at COCO on the Glos/Worcs border

posted in: apple day, apples, Juice, orchard | 0

On Sunday 20th October 2019 members of Conderton and Overbury Community Orchard (COCO) gathered to press some of the juices of their fruit crop.

Lots of the young trees planted by the group were weighed down with fruit which was particularly good to see and the juice was sweet!

Juicing equipment was provided by Kemerton Orchard Workers – the next village – for a small donation to their fund.

For more info on COCO visit http://www.overbury.org/coco

 

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Tales from the National Perry Pear Collection

Jim Chapman has sent these updates about some of the pears in the National Perry Pear Collection – plus, at the end, some new info on some dessert pears too:

The Earlies:

Charles Martell, in his 2013 book Pears of Gloucestershire and Perry Pears of the Three Counties, refers to early pears being used to make a quick fermenting sparkling perry ready for Christmas, quoting as authority the late Ray Williams of Long Ashton Research Station.

The orchards at Wick Court in Arlingham, Gloucestershire have an orchard planted in the first part of the 19th century specifically for perry, using the traditional layout of early ripening fruit nearest the mill and later fruit further away, but all their earlies were reworked at some time with the later ripening pear Oldfield.

Recently we have been repropagating these earlies and will be trying to recreate the quick fermenting sparkling perry that was presumably once made at Wick Court. These early ‘harvest’ pears were once far more commonly found on farms, but are now rare, with their fruit not picked, but allowed to fall unused. One of the Wick Court pears, Island Gennet has also been found growing in the GOT orchards at Longney

The Lates:

Another puzzle we hope to resolve concerns a group of three pears whose DNA matches the early Thorn perry pear, but which consistently ripen a month after other Thorn. Again, Charles Martell refers to a later Thorn in his Pears of Gloucestershire, tentatively naming it the Murrell pear. Whether ours is Murrell is unlikely ever to be established, but it is presumably a sport or mutation of the commoner Thorn.

And dessert fruit too:

Another Wick Court pear is one recently named Queen’s Wick View, to commemorate the visit by Queen Elizabeth I. If she had indeed slept in the room tradition specifies (unlikely as it was not built until 50 years after her death!) and if the tree was then growing (which it wasn’t), it would have been in her view from the window.

For the last few years I have picked this pear to try to identify it, and this year tasted it long after picking, when it had done the circuit of shows for over a month – what a transformation, from being a rather indifferent, but apparently perry variety, it had sweetened to remain an unknown but now very pleasant Bergamot type dessert fruit !

All I have to do now is to discover whether I can find a ‘lost’ Bergamot whose description matches. The DNA does not match any pear currently in the National Collection at Brogdale.Thomas Hitt in 1757 wrote “as pears are the best fruit the winter months afford, they are worthy of the greatest care in preserving”. He continued “many thought to be second rate become delicious if stored correctly, melting and rich, but dry and tough if left to ripen outdoors”

NOTE: the orchards at Wick Court are not open to the public, but GOT does occasionally arrange visits to them.

Apple Days = Apple Cakes

We’re in the middle of Apple Day season – but instead of just another picture of people and apples, here’s a mouth-watering picture of some of the Apple (and Pear and Quince) Cakes on offer at the Days Cottage Apple Day last weekend.

There’s something for everyone at an Apple Day!

 

Apple Days galore, even in Gloucester City

It’s apple picking time and there are events all over the county to celebrate the harvest and customs of traditional orchards.  Many are billed as ‘Apple Day’ a concept established by the charity Common Ground way back in 1990.  Read more about that on their website at http://www.commonground.org.uk/apple-day/   Many Gloucestershire Apple day events are listed on our website on the Events pages at  https://glosorchards.org/home/events/category/allevents/

One particularly exciting event, in the centre of Gloucester itself, is at the Folk of Gloucester (Formerly the Folk Museum) where Gloucester Civic Trust will be hosting the Annual Apple day on Saturday 19th of October 2019 from 10am to 4pm. It will be a Celebration of Gloucestershire Apples and Cider Making.

Come and see Rosie the Cider horse, who is coming for the first time this year to help turn the apple mill and make Apple Day in Gloucester a success. She is taking over from Fergus who has now retired after five years of service.

“This is one of the last fully operational horse powered apple mills in the West Country” said Alex Bailey, Chairman of the Operations Team at The Folk, “and we are very fortunate that we can still demonstrate how it works”

There will also be a chance to try some rare breed apples provided by Gloucestershire Orchard Trust and they will be there to sell apple juice and ciders and provide advice on looking after your own apple trees.

There will be lots of Children’s activities available and Morris Dancers from Lassington Oak performing and giving Morris Dancing workshops.

We will have live music from a folk band and Bygonz performing at the event too.

For extra refreshment there will be Severn Cider running a bar with some of their favourite craft ciders available to buy.

This is a preview event for the Folk of Gloucester (Formerly Folk Museum) which is opening in Spring 2020 and will be an exhibition and events space housed in a large Tudor building in Lower Westgate, Gloucester. It will tell the story of Gloucester Folk from Tudor Times to the Modern Day.

The Folk will be operating a café during the event offering Teas, Coffees, Ciders and soft drinks.

Full Press Release is available here: https://glosorchards.org/home/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Apple-Day-Press-Release-2019.pdf

World Record for Perry Pears (again!)

Congratulations to Jim Chapman, who, at the National Perry Pear Centre’s Open Afternoon in Hartpury last weekend, displayed 108 varieties of Perry Pear, a World Record. Comfortably beating his own previous record of 97 varieties last year. Most were from the National Perry Pear Centre’s own Hartpury orchards, augmented by a few from Malvern.

You missed it? Don’t worry, you can see the display again next weekend in the Orchard Pavilion at the Malvern Autumn Show. Jim will be on hand to identify any perry pears you may like to bring. A donation is asked for to help the Trust’s work at the Centre.

And GOT’s own stand will be nearby with a Gloucestershire apple display, tasting opportunities for selected (ripe) apple varieties and juice for sale plus tree advice.

Harvest, and show, time

With Apple Day looming and the apple and pear crop ripening rapidly – some varieties earlier than others of course – it is time to think about orchard events and shows.

We have many listed on the website – including many dates for Apple Day – an event originally set as being October 21st by Common Ground (see http://commonground.org.uk/projects/orchards/apple-day/) but, not surprisingly, now spread out across many early autumn weekends.

Do have a look at the events list on the website – and let us know if you want your event added. The events page is at https://glosorchards.org/home/events/category/allevents/

The next event we’ll be at will be Malvern Autumn Show – this coming weekend – more about that soon…

Cider and Perry Awards at the Royal Three Counties Show in June 2019

Mattias’ display at the Show, with his Awards

Many congratulations to Mattias Pihlwret (manager at National Perry Pear Centre at Hartpury) who won:

  • best dry cider
  • best medium cider
  • was highly commended for perry
  • won the best Gloucestershire producer award and
  • received the overall trophy for best in Show (from international entries, not just from the Three Counties!

Mattias is a GOT committee member – and he obviously knows what he’s doing when it comes to Cider and Perry!

Snippets of Longney News – sheep and loo

posted in: Longney, orchard, volunteers | 0

Our work at our Longney orchards is ongoing – and we are particularly pleased this season to finally have sheep grazing – which has been our ambition from the start.  The grazing will improve the orchards considerably – from a management, biodiversity and landscape perspective.

Meanwhile the fencing has been completed, benches erected in the barn and interpretation signage is in place. Young people with special needs continue to visit most Mondays and a charity camps in the orchards in early summer.

We also now have our new composting toilet from Free Range Designs up and running – many thanks to volunteers Stuart and Pete for installing. It is already proving popular, particularly with students and staff who visit each Monday! You can find it behind the renovated barn. Some final details need to be completed but it is fully functional.  For more about this design visit Free Range Designs here.

And, whilst we’re on the toilet (so to speak), could anyone please provide GOT with:sawdust or wood chip (preferably untreated)?  And a large lidded storage bin or wheelie bin? Please let Ann know if you can help via info@glosorchards.org  Thanks!

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