Apple Harvest 2020
Apple production this year will be less in quantity but high in quality and character.
The collection of Denomination of Origin apples for Basque Cider has begun in several apple trees in Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia and Álava, and the entire harvest will be harvested in the coming days and weeks. The type of apple, the zones, the ripening points and the tastes of the cider houses will determine when the apple is harvested, but most of the apple trees in Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia and Álava have begun to be harvested.
This year's harvest will be less than last year, as can be seen from most apple trees. In last year's harvest, more than 5 million kilos of apples were collected in the apple orchards of the Denomination of Origin and this year it is expected to harvest less than 50%. There are two main factors that have caused it:
Not abundant harvest: usually the apple has a abundant harvest every two years. The objective is to professionalize the sector and develop and test new techniques to achieve a more balanced harvest of the Denomination of Origin of Basque Cider.
Little cold in winter: Apples need a break in winter and it is essential to accumulate a few hours of cold. This past winter has not been cold and the temperatures have been very high. This has influenced the flowering of the apple trees and the trees have not borne much fruit.
However, having a smaller harvest has its good side, it means that it comes with a lot of character. This 2020 will be a well-stocked harvest of polyphenols or tannins in most apple trees, which will also affect cider, although we will report on this later.
THE GOAL IS TO INCREASE LOCAL APPLE PRODUCTION
There are currently 250 apple producers within the Euskal Sagardoa Designation of Origin and around 475 hectares of apple trees. All these apples go to the 48 cider houses of the Denomination of Origin for the production of Basque Cider. These apple orchards are some old and some new and in the next few years another 100 hectares will be put into production. Most of the new apple trees have been planted in Gipuzkoa, with the support of the Provincial Council, as well as in Bizkaia and Álava. The sector and the Provincial Councils are making efforts and commitments to try to plant new apple trees, and the objective is to continue professionalizing the apple sector to achieve a quality and balanced harvest. In recent years, great steps have been taken with the promotion of the Euskal Sagardoa D.O. project, and in the coming years the commitment to the apple sector will be fundamental, both in terms of quality and the growing number of local apples. In fact, the sector and the administration clearly set an objective in the creation of the Euskal Sagardoa Designation of Origin: in 15 years, that the cider houses make all their cider 100% with local apples; in other words, that all Basque cider production is the Euskal Sagardoa Denomination of Origin.
FOUR STRATEGIC PROJECTS
Along this path, in addition to the planting of new apple trees, there are three priority projects that must be technically developed in the apple sector with Denomination of Origin:
1) Pollination: Continue to study the ability of local varieties of apples to pollinate each other. This will tell us what type of variety mix needs to be done in an apple tree to have proper pollination.
2) Thinning: when there is an abundant production it is advisable to thin the apple to have a more balanced harvest and to try thinning systems adapted to the local orography and types of apples.
3) Selection: This is the work carried out in Basque farmhouses, if you want to insert a type of apple, take the mint to the most suitable and donor apples, in order to improve the variety. The objective is to continue this work in an organized and continuous way.
4) Land: More and more importance is given to the cultivation of the land, in which the formation of the sector is essential in addition to balancing the crops to have a quality apple.
Different types of apple
The Denomination of Origin Euskal Sagardoa has 115 types of approved apples, 24 of which are the most used, both sweet or bland and bitter (acidic). The right mix of these apples will give the cider its characteristics and each cider house will look for their favorite mix and cider. These are the 24 main types of apples used in Euskal Sagardoa: