CIDER and perry makers are keeping their fingers crossed for a bumper apple harvest this year, after a very poor 2012.

Last year, a cold spring and wet conditions meant that many trees did not pollinate, as bees stayed in the hives.

The fruit that did develop was often small and low in sugar content – far from ideal for cider making. Twelve months on, the situation could not be more different.

Allen Hogan of Hogan’s Cider, Castlemorton, near Malvern, said: “On our trees that have pollinated, we do have a lot of fruit. Growing conditions have been good with plenty of sunshine and a lot of rain.

“Last year, we didn’t have a lot of sunshine and the fruit was small and low in sugar content. The perry crop did badly last year – worse than the apple crop.”

In 2012, Hogan’s were able to produce only a quarter of the perry they had hoped to because of the poor crop.

With the apple and pear tree boughs groaning with fruit this year, it is a very different picture.

But Mr Hogan sounded a note of caution.

“We could have a drought betweeen now and October, so we could be in trouble. There’s many a slip between cup and lip.”

The same note of cautious optimism was sounded by Ann Stanier, of Dragon Orchard, Putley, the base of Once Upon a Tree cider and juice manufacturers.

She said: “I would not say it is a bumper harvest but it is a very good harvest, after last year, which was dreadful.”

She said Dragon Orchard’s crop was down by about 40 per cent in 2012.

Mrs Stanier said: “We didn’t have enough juice to make our single varieties, but this year it will be much better. But a lot can happen between now and the harvest.”

Eating apples will start to be harvested at the end of August, and cider apples from late September into November.