West Country cider makers are celebrating the best apple tree blossom in more than 10 years.
Last year’s cold and wet weather devastated crops and crippled the harvest.
This year’s blossom has arrived around two weeks late – but is bigger and stronger than cider chiefs could have hoped for.
“After last year’s disappointment, it is extremely encouraging to see such a strong blossom,” said Paul Bartlett, chairman of the National Association of Cider Makers. “Although it came late, it could be promising news as there is now less chance of a frost ruining crops.
“The region’s producers are breathing a big sigh of relief.”
Somerset cider maker Neil McDonald said: “This is by far the best blossom I have seen in at least 10 years. Last year was worrying – it started with a poor blossom and got worse. Around 30 per cent of crop was destroyed.”
Cider making plays a crucial role in the economy of the South West, where many of the UK’s 480 producers are based.