John Worle Cider Apple & Perry Pear Trees
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About John Worle

John's career began in Somerset when, at the age of 17, he was employed by Coates Cider of Nailsea, to work in Mr. Redvers Coates orchards and also in Coates suppliers orchards in Somerset and Gloucestershire. He travelled the farms buying apples to supply fruit to the factory and to buy cider vinegar from the cellars(!) of the numerous smaller cider makers in the south west.

Budding, grafting and other aspects of the propagation of cider apple and perry pear trees were learnt alongside Rosmund Knott, Tony Calder and Punch Garland on nursery land rented from Dickie Allen at West Bradley, near Glastonbury by Showerings of Shepton Mallet (Babycham fame). Then followed the planting and growing on of these trees at various sites in south Somerset and this was when John had the opportunity to learn about growing perry pears - the vital ingredient in Babycham. This period gave John the basis on which to build his knowledge of tree production and orchard management for the future.

John was awarded a scholarship to spend six months at Long Ashton Research Station with Mr. Ray Williams - a Cider Pomologist at Long Ashton Research Station - who was, at that time, researching his book "Perry Pears" - still regarded as the definitive work on the subject today. Much of this time was spent in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire studying the orchards of this region.

In 1970 Bulmers were needing to greatly increase their supply of apples. They had been obliged to import apples from Normandy because there were so few productive orchards in this country. They intended to offer long term contracts to farmers in Herefordshire and Worcestershire and set up an ambitious and innovative scheme to encourage local farmers to join them. John was asked to come to Hereford and given the brief to select prospective growers, draw up 20 year contracts (the time from planting to full cropping was considered to be 10tons/acre after 10 years!). With improvements in choice of varieties and better management techniques these figures were soon over-taken. At this time, Bulmers were also planting approximately 2,500 acres of their own trees and John managed two of these plantations, ran an orchard advisory service, and managed the outwork team (which was heavily subsidized by Bulmers), to help the new growers. He also organized the Golden Apple Competition - at that time an annual event - which was set up to encourage growers to learn from each other and to allow their new investments to become profitable as quickly as possible.

John became Area Farm's Manager and Nursery Manager to Bulmers and, in 2004, was awarded the Gold Medal at the Royal Bath & West Show for 'Lifetime's Contribution to the Orchards and Cider Industry of the West Country' [read more].

In 2006 John set up his own cider apple tree nursery in Herefordshire and since that time has grown over half a million bare rooted trees for growers who were mainly planting with new contracts to supply the large cider companies in Hereford and Somerset (a few of these growers are the farmers - or the sons of farmers - who took up the original contracts of forty years ago).

The National Association of Cider Makers employ John for advisory work to their growers, and for some years John and Liz Copas have been taking the "Orcharding Day" for Peter Mitchell's Cider Making Course at Hartpury. Due to the interest in craft cider making John has decided that this year he will grow a selection of varieties which he believes will be of particular interest to this market, together with the other new addition of perry pears and a small selection for those interested in producing apple juice.

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