APPLES & PEARS

The Orchards

The orchards at Leckford are a little unusual in that they are planted on thin, chalky soils. Whilst this challenging environment can result in low yields of fruit, it produces apples that are crisp and beautifully flavoured, with excellent keeping qualities. Our fruit is available to purchase directly from the farm through our Farm Shop during October, November and into December.

Stretching over about 18 hectares, protected from the wind by rows of tall trees and hedges, the Leckford orchards provide Waitrose stores with apples, pears and cider. They also provide the Leckford Estate Farm Shop with dessert fruit and apple juice.

We grow several varieties of apples and pears at Leckford: Braeburn, Bramley, Cox and Gala apples and Conference, Concord and Comice pears.

Just one full-time Partner looks after the orchards and the Leckford vineyard. He is kept busy right through the year working to ensure that our apples and pears are the very best quality.

 

Winter

During the winter, the trees are pruned to ensure an open tree structure, encouraging young fruit-bearing wood and removing branches that would otherwise shade the developing fruits the following summer – the developing fruits need the light to ripen and develop good colour.

 

Spring & Summer 

Through the spring and summer, effective husbandry is required to minimise pests and diseases, whilst minimising the impact on the environment. As would be expected of a LEAF Demonstration Farm, we use Integrated Crop Management (ICM) techniques to achieve our agronomic objectives.

In early summer, we selectively thin the developing fruits so that we can ultimately maximise the yields of fruit within the desired size categories.

 

Autumn

In the run-up to harvest in the autumn, we regularly test the apples for size, colour, skin finish, firmness and sugar content so we can determine the optimum time for harvest.

At harvest, extreme care is needed to hand-pick only the best fruit and to handle it sensitively to ensure no bruising. The fruit is then stored under precisely controlled conditions to ensure that a good quality crop at harvest remains a good quality crop in store up to the point of delivery to our Farm Shop and to Waitrose stores.