The past weeks have been spent in an all out effort to finish harvest before the change of weather. October weather in Indiana is always unpredictable, thus the extra effort to finish the picking. The Yellow/Golden Delicious apples have been harvested and taken to market as have the Black Twig Winesap, Chesapeake and Gold Rush. The Gold Rush apple has become a “come back for” variety. Somewhat new for our orchard, it has become a popular variety because of its long term storage capability. Black Twig Winesaps could be considered “heirlooms” as this variety is a cross between the Stayman Winesap and Arkansas Black and not grown in all orchards. Developed in the 1850’s, it mellows in storage and has a long shelf life. Several of our customers refer to this apple as the “Christmas Apple” because this is the time frame it develops its true flavor. As of last weekend our visits to the local Farmers’ Markets are finished. We will be taking apples yet to the White’s Farm Market in Brookville, Indiana this Wednesday. After Wednesday, our inventory will be depleted to the point where we will close for the season.
Overall it has been a few good season for our orchard. Challenges, yes, but nothing insurmountable. If there wasn’t an opportunity for a visit to our orchard or to the markets this year, we certainly look forward to next year as we are already making plans for another apple season
Golden Delicious apples from our farm.
The Golden Delicious apple is our featured apple for the next several weeks. Beautiful to behold in the orchard setting, it is flavorful and juicy. Quite a delight to pick and just as delightful to eat out of hand, the Golden/Yellow Delicious apple is a much sought after variety by our customers at market. When this variety of apple ripens, it is truly “golden” in color. Not only awesome to eat fresh, the Golden/Yellow Delicious apple produces great results in home cooking and processing. Whether it is used in an apple dumpling, canned pie filling, fresh pie or sauce, the Golden/Yellow Delicious delivers great results. Sweeteners are not particularly needed and this is a plus for many who suffer from diabetes. Some of our customers with touchy stomachs say that this is one variety of apple that they can digest without problems. Continue reading
Harvest is in full swing. Cooler overnight temperatures have given the apples a beautiful blush. The next several weeks will be very busy with harvest and markets. We enjoy meeting our regular customers and introducing ourselves to new ones at the markets and at our business.
The Gala apples have been picked and are being offered at our markets and at our business location. Nothing quite like a Gala! On to the Empire apples this week. Continue reading
A Gingergold apple.
We have opened the marketing season with the “Gingergold” apple. The Gingergold apple is one of the earliest yellow apple varieties to ripen in our orchard. The fruit is conical in shape and starts out a very pale green, though if left on the tree it will ripen to a soft yellow w/slightly waxy appearance. Primary usage is eating out of hand though it does make an awesome sauce, crisp and pie. The flesh resits browning more than other early varieties. The flavor is mild with a hint of tartness.
This apple variety has an interesting background. The orchards of Clyde and Frances “Ginger” Harvey were devastated by the flooding brought to Nelson County Virginia in 1969 by Hurricane Camille. While assessing the damages to his orchard, Mr. Harvey recognized one tree among his Winesap varieties that was different. Although planted with the Winesap it produced a yellow fruit, not red. A local extension agent identified the parents as Golden Delicious, Albermale Pippin and another variety that remains unknown. This new variety was named after Frances “Ginger” Harvey and was marketed as Gingergold. A good discovery, as this has become an awesome variety and customers truly enjoy its unique flavor and versatility.
We have established our business hours for the season. We plan to go to the following Farmers’ Markets on a weekly basis. Wednesday mornings from sunrise to lunch or until we sell out, we will be setting up at White’s Sales Barn in Brookville, Indiana. Fridays will find us at the south side of the town square in Greensburg, Indiana from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Saturdays we will be at North Vernon, Indiana from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m and at Batesville, Indiana from 8:00 a.m. until noon. Hours at our business location will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Saturday, 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Hopefully, these established hours will make it possible for our customers to purchase our products.
Our local newspaper, “The Herald Tribune,” recently ran a feature on our orchard operations. The author, Will Fehlinger, did a nice job covering our past, present, and future plans of the orchard. The article, titled “How ya’ like them apples” can be found here (http://www.batesvilleheraldtribune.com/news/local_news/how-ya-like-them-apples/article_57415fe0-1be1-558a-89c4-917d036ec005.html) and was published on July 13th, 2017.
Thank you all for your continual support. Without customers, we wouldn’t be here.
Interesting findings regarding our family heritage. Maternal great grandparents of co-owner, Patty, developed an orchard about three miles southeast of our current location in 1888. Receipts were found among family papers that documented the sale and shipment of trees from Sibenthaler Brothers Nursery of Dayton, Ohio. Also included in these papers were shipping receipts and planting instructions from Brown Brothers of Chicago, Illinois dated the same time frame. Interestingly enough, the planting instructions could be copied and used today as the methods are basically the same. One main difference is the holes are now dug by machine while then all the holes for the tree plantings were made by hand digging.
Also, another great grandfather worked as a salesman for Kelley and Riley Nursery in Alert, IN. This great grandfather, John Tekulve, also grafted independently and sold this root stock from his own business location on his farm just east of Batesville, IN. An advertisement from the local newspaper indicates that his nursery business, eleven thousand trees, was selling stock to local residents in 1890. Older residents do recall his orchard which has now been developed into housing and business.
Interestingly and coincidentally, a grandson of the Doll family orchard married a great granddaughter of the Tekulve and Kleine family orchards and nursery and as a result another family is involved in this “growing” business. Not just a business, but a continuation of a family heritage.
A fireblight strike on an apple tree.
Fireblight has reared its ugly head again in the orchard. Numerous hours have been spent trying to control this destructive disease. Fireblight is caused by the Erwinia amylovora. This bacterium overwinters in the wood of the trees. During the spring, it spreads by rain, bees, aphids or other insects. Humid conditions, rain, and hail promote disease development and spread.
This disease commonly infects flowers at bloom, killing the flower and gaining entrance to the tree. Infections can spread rapidly. When the bacteria gets into the tree’s inner bark it runs down the limb at a rapid rate. Once infected with this bacterium the blossoms and branches begin to wither and turn black and looks as if they were scorched by fire. Thus, the name “fireblight.” Fireblight will kill young trees if it enters the bark of the central leader. As the progression of the disease begins to slow, it forms a canker which sometimes oozes an orange-brown liquid.
Control of fireblight is not easy. Antibiotics and biological control agents are used during bloom to reduce flower infections. Once in-season, infected wood must be removed by pruning. Pruning cuts must be made below the infected tissue into healthy wood. After each cut, the pruners must be cleaned – we typically use 10% bleach water. The intention of pruning is to reduce the spread of the disease from tree-to-tree as well as reduce the over-wintering innoculum. Resistant varieties are also another way to manage the disease. These varieties slow the rate of disease spread.
Being located in southeastern Indiana, we have a lot of humid and rainy conditions – both during bloom and in-season. Our orchard also contains over 25 varieties, which means we have both susceptible and resistant varieties. This creates challenges in managing this disease across our operation.
A row of apple trees infected with fireblight.
The same row of trees after the strikes were pruned out.
The past several weeks have been spent maintaining the orchard. Weed control is always an issue for us. The mild winter and warm spring encouraged growth and development of this unwelcome vegetation. The seeds that dropped into the earth last fall did not freeze and suffer winter-kill since the winter was mild. With the temperatures in February and March above normal, well, you can about guess the rest of the story. There are many herbicides available on the market for growers to purchase, some more harsh than others, but we continue our practice to use minimal applications of chemical weed control. We have noticed a comeback of red earth worms and night crawlers in our soils since we have practiced limited usage of herbicides. Worms make soil more fertile and thus, less commercial fertilizers are needed. This, however, doesn’t happen overnight and remains an ongoing venture. So, to try to gain control of the weed situation, we are hitting the orchard areas now with weed eaters.
We did experience below freezing temperatures about two weeks ago. We registered 26 degrees in the lower orchard for about an hour. There is some damage to the apples in that area but a small percentage. The fruit that is affected from the freeze is damaged in appearance only, probably will be just slightly misshapen where the frost settled on it. Time will tell the story as the season progresses.
Recent storms have inundated us with rain and windy weather. We almost needed a canoe to get into the orchards these past two weeks. We keep our fingers crossed when the area weather predictions include storms. Hail is not something we want to see at this point. Not too many customers like their fruit to be “ice kissed,” a positive way of referring to hail damage. So far, so good, no hail.
The newly planted orchard is progressing quite nicely. The new trees are putting on good growth and we cultivate them often to encourage further development. We continue to formulate our plans for this future “pick-your-own” apple orchard. We are looking forward to the opportunity that this venture will offer to our customers and their families.
We will have peaches this year unless we experience an unexpected catastrophe. The cold temperatures experienced several weeks ago do not appear as having done any damage to the fruit. So, yes, there will be peaches available.
Recent delving into the family ancestry has revealed some interesting facts about our involvement in the orchard business. As of now, trying to make an organized compilation of it. Will try to have an update soon about how the hands of fate can impact people’s lives.