Thatchers has partnered with the University of Bristol in a project to identify varieties of cider apples, as it looks to create new varieties for future cider making.

The project, which uses DNA fingerprinting techniques to find differences in genetic make-up, is being used to single out the different varieties.

The project is being led by professor Keith Edwards (pictured left) from the School of Biological Sciences and post-graduate student Alex Graham, who visited Thatchers’ Exhibition Orchard to gather leaf samples.

Thatchers’ Exhibition Orchard contains hundreds of different varieties of apple tree. The company said many of the varieties were saved from the Long Ashton Research Station “when cider research stopped in 1985”. The researchers have also been out to other Thatchers’ orchards to gather samples, helping them “create the largest database of apple tree fingerprints in the world, with over 2,500 genotypes present”.

Chris Muntz-Torres, Thatchers farm manager (pictured right), said: “By using the DNA technique to tell us more about the pedigree of each variety in our Exhibition Orchard, we hope to be able to start creating new varieties of apple for cider making with the characteristics that we love as cider makers.”