A Climate for Apples

Photo : Matilda Temperley
The Parish has a unique ‘terroir’. This means that it has a set of factors and practices which all combine to give it a uniqueness :
It has a climate which is well suited to apple growing; soils and slopes good for apple growing; a culture of apple-arboriculture – the growing, propagation and development through tree nurseries – the work of individuals and families over many generations.

Our weather comes from what is going on above our heads in the atmosphere over a short time – daily & weekly.
BBC Weather for 2nd March 2020

Our climate is the weather a pattern taken over longer periods of time. Statistics from measuring this give averages from which we get the patterns of climate.

“The year 2018 helps to illustrate how our work is affected by the weather. First we had – ‘the beast from the east’ when beginning on the 22nd February we had bitter winds, unusually low temperatures and snowfall. Whilst it was too early for blossoms to be damaged and killed off, there was a die-off of our pollinators, the insects and bees. Blossoms came shortly after the ‘beast’ died off but too early for a regeneration of our pollinators.
The summer was another story where with the heat and lack of rainfall, our trees through their ability to self- regulate, ‘dropped’ immature apples to cope with the stress.
All in all these weather conditions resulted in possibly a 20% loss in our crop yield. We are never able to be in control of all the variables.”

Matilda Temperley : Burrow Hill Cider

Seasonal variations in Temperature

South West England Spring Temperatures
South West England Summer Temperatures
South West England Autumn Temperatures
South West England Winter Temperatures

Locate roughly where the Parish is, and then compare temperatures for the rest of the South West. What conclusions might you arrive at?

Rainfall, sunshine, scab & frosts

Annual Rainfall for the Parish
Sunshine Hours for the Parish

Photo: Matilda Temperley

Our Weather : Rain Shadow – less Scab

“Winds from the south-west carrying storms and showers get caught and divided by the higher land of The Blackdowns and the ridges of Curry Rivel, Langport and Somerton. This mean that we are a bit of a ‘rain shadow’-we have less rain than if we were on an open plain. Once you get to Yeovilton the winds re-join and the climate changes. This splitting of the prevailing winds reduces the duration of any approaching rainfall. Less rainfall has implications for the amount of moisture which is hanging around which in turn reduces the risk of scab. Scab is devasting for fruit causing leaf-loss. Our rain shadow situation helps to define our terroir. We always want a dry spring which then reduces the possibility of scab. “

William Hebditch : New Cross Farm


Apple scab is a disease caused by a fungus called Venturia inaequalis. It spreads by airborne spores and survives the winter on fallen leaves. In Spring, normally around the time that buds appear on the plants, spores are released form the fallen leaves and they spread to new leaves both on the wind and via water splashing. Secondary spores are release in late spring which causes further infection. The higher the humidity and temperature the quicker the spores are released and the more damage they can cause.
The damage becomes apparent in mid summer to winter on leaves and fruit. The cycle repeats itself with more vigour if not treated.Scab will cause premature leaf drop which not only affects the looks of affected plants but also weakens them and affects their ability to produce fruit. In the short and medium term it is unlikely to kill the plant / tree but it can do so if the disease reappears year after year.

Late Frosts in May – Franklin Nights

Days of Frosts for the Parish
No blossoms no apples……….

During the apple growing process one of the vital factors in obtaining a good crop is a healthy blossom coverage which is very susceptible to damage from late frosts. There is a story about these late frosts……..

……….In some years these late frosts would appear around the same time, namely between the 19th and 21st of May and became known as
‘Franklin’s Nights’, ‘St. Frankling Nights’ or Francimass.

If we wander into the realms of folklore there are several suggestions as to who was Franklin and what connection he had with late frosts. One version is that he was an ale-brewer whose sales were in a dramatic decline due to the ever-increasing popularity of cider. After trying everything imaginable to reverse this trend he eventually resorted to the final option. In return for his soul, he made a pact with the Devil to send three severe late frosts to damage the apple blossom. This meant that the apple growers would have a seriously depleted apple crop which in turn would mean a short supply of their ‘golden nectar’. The consequence of this was that his ale would once again be in popular demand and his business once again back on the track for a healthy profit. This tale somehow filtered down through the ages and with it the strong belief that should late frosts appear between the 19th and 21st of May then they were the result of Franklin’s pact with the Devil.