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New 175-acre orchard in Hoo.

A C Goatham & Son has agreed a long-term tenancy with the owners of Turkey Hall Farm, Upper Stoke, nearr Hoo, Kent and will begin replanting the site with 175 acres of new orchards of Conference Pears, Cox and a new early fruiting clone of Royal Gala, in the Winter of 2016-2017. This will be the largest orchard planting which has taken place in Medway for many years and puts it firmly amongst one of the most important fruit growing areas of the South East.

Turkey Hall has been used as a fruit farm for a number of years but hasn’t had any new orchards planted for some time. The local climate on the Hoo Peninsular makes it an excellent location for growing top fruit.

Ross Goatham at A C Goatham & Son comments: “This is a great opportunity for us to be able to expand our farming operation here in Medway and this site is just a short distance from our headquarters at Flanders Farm, the site of our main cold storage and packing facility.”

“The orchards at Turkey Hall farm will be planted using our new growing system on post and wire and we believe this is the first time in the UK Cox will be grown using this method. The new clone of Royal Gala we will be planting has been developed with our nursery tree partner and will be ripe 2-2 ½ weeks before any other English Royal Gala, so we can get our British grown fruit into store as early as French growers.”

“This is a really exciting development and means we are yet again extending the season for British apples.”

The quantity of Cox grown has been decreasing steadily, as growers struggle to grow both the quantity and quality to make it a sustainable crop to compete with other varieties. Most Cox are currently grown in old system beds or on very old trees. This new growing system will allow more light and air into the fruit which will give a better crop bud per acre and it will also be pruned differently.

In the 2015 season, A C Goatham & Son has grown in excess of 150 million apples and 50 million pears, around one in 4.5 of the British apples sold in the UK.