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From apple to cider
A three-million trees paradise
The Norman orchard is a real paradise of 3 million trees, especially during the blooming period. The appellations-grown part intended for Calvados production covers about 7,500ha of plantations.
Two cultivation methods are used alongside :
- The high stem apple tree is the historical form of Norman cultivation, an authentic image of Epinal, with cows grazing peacefully une der these tall trees. The high-stem apple tree can give its first apples only about ten years after planting. And it will reach its full production only after 15 years, after which it can give fruit for more than 70 years.
- The low-stem trees are the modern form of orchards dedicated only to fruit production. With this cultivation method, the tree will start producing fruit at around four years old. It will reach its maximum production towards 8 years old but it will live for about thirty years.
According to the local adage, the high-stem pear trees are often described as trees which need « 100 years to grow, 100 years to produce and 100 years to die ».
Cider apples are very different from « cookers » or « eaters », or dessert apples. They are small and have the particularity of being rich in tannins. Cider apples are generally classified in four famillies ("bitter", "bittersweet", "sweet" and "acidulous"). They are mixed together to build up a balanced cider and later a harmonious Calvados. Calvados is never made from just one variety.
The harvest season usually begins mid-September to last until mid-December depending on the maturity of the different varieties.