By perfecting the production and storage of Cox apples, Bardsley Farms at Rectory Farm, near Maidstone, Kent is bucking the trend of planting new varieties, and enjoying unprecedented success at the Goudhurst & Paddock Wood Orchard Competition. Bardsley Farms scooped several trophies and dominated this year’s competition.
Rectory Farm pioneered the planting of self-fertile clones over 20 years ago, in multi-row systems, employing MM106 rootstocks with M9 interstems to optimise the potential of the sites and soils of the Maidstone Ridge at Sutton Valence that were previously considered unsuitable for Cox growing. Bardsley Farms is still planting Cox, but now using intensive M9 systems. “We are able to produce 40 tonnes/ha, and store them long-term with Smartfresh™ until March, when they can realise acceptable prices to sustain production”, said Nigel Bardsley.
He attributes his success in the Orchard Competition, and in the Competition Classes at the National Fruit Show, to using his lighter Greensand soils and gentle slopes for Cox production, and the heavier soils for pears, Bramley and Braeburn.