Originally Posted by A1an
I keep meaning to pick your brains about what apple/pears I should be looking at growing for my location.
If you only do one thing, buy this book and read the bit about selecting varieties and planting an orchard: Craft Cider Making - Third Edition by Andrew Lea, 9781785000157
Later on, it will become your manual for Cidermaking as well.
It's not rocket science but without overstating the obvious, you make your bed and then lie in it, so you want to start off as best you can. Surprisingly, apple trees come into fruit quite quickly so you will be making cider in 4-5 years.
A few things to consider:
1. Location - apples like poorish quality, reasonably well drained soil. It's best if they don't see the sunrise to avoid frost damage - and you're going to have to work at that. A frost hollow would be a disaster. If they have some shelter from wind then that's a very good bonus.
2. Varieties, you'll do best with disease resistant types. Cider apples are completely different to Cookers and Eaters. They are very sweet and taste horrible. They are also quite fibrous which aids pressing. Certain varieties have superior characteristics and if you can have a majority of these then your cider will have a MUCH better taste. That said, you don't want all your eggs in one basket, so a few other lesser fruit types will be a bonus in years when the main cropper is reduced for some reason. Without labouring the subject, cider apple varieties possess many qualities, and it's best to have a palate of different fruit to play with - maybe three sorts in your case? My main crop is Dabinett and I have a few others to bring in if needed. You can add cookers and eaters to cider too - you just need to be careful with the blend - too much and you loose all the character.
3. Planting is easy and you do it once, so it's good to get it right. If you go for MM106 "bush" rootstock then you can pack 'em in and they crop well. I have a few M26 dwarf trees as well and they are very useful - not the joke trees I expected. You'll need 6-10 trees to make useful quantities* of cider.
* A bottle a day, all year