So, what have we been up to these last few weeks? Seasonal pruning has been quite a challenge. Cold temperatures, snow and ice accumulations have brought pruning to a standstill at times. These last few warmer days of March, however, has allowed us to once again get the equipment back in the orchard. We are trying to meet our goals and finish by the end of this month.
Our apple orchard lies in “blocks.” We have been able to finish pruning in three blocks while moving into the last one this week. After pruning each tree, there is the issue of dealing with the limbs that are cut off and accumulate on the orchard floor. Most of the larger prunings are placed in the center of the rows during the process of pruning and a flail mower/mulcher is used to “grind” these up. Prunings that fall under the canopy of the trees are manually raked into the center of the rows after this first “pass” by the mulcher. Raking is rather labor intensive but does make for a good “clean up.” Not only small branches and twigs are compiled but also leaves and any unpicked fruit which fell after the harvest. While larger orchard operations have their own practices, we do what we do because we feel our efforts make a good product for our customers and besides it gives us something to do! Sometimes it is nice to be the “little guy.”