In my prior post I mentioned that this season’s shorter bloom period in the apple orchard necessitated our getting additional hives of honeybees to help pollinate. Pollination is essential in the production of many fruit, nut and vegetable crops. Without pollination of these various crops the dinner plates of most of us would lack variety, flavor and nutrition. As a grower we find it highly important to develop economical strategies to ensure pollination in our orchard. It is no trade secret that we rely heavily on honeybees. Other than honeybees, we look to other pollinators to help us out too. Continue reading
Pruning is now finished for another season. What a great feeling! We are now in the last stages of orchard cleanup. The prunings have all been mulched with the flail mower/mulcher and the grandchildren have done a final sweep to gather anything left in the aisle ways that would hinder spring chemical application or summer mowing. The milder temperatures of the past week have encouraged bud swell. Not something we really want to see yet as there is considerable time before we are free from the dangers of frost and freezing. Overall though, the orchard looks good; pruned, clean and starting to green and awaiting another growing season. Continue reading
What’s been happening at the orchard? Well, that’s simple to answer, pruning, pruning and more pruning. We have finished pruning the apple trees and at this point of the process, we are most happy about that achievement. Our next endeavor is our peach trees. Not quite as many peach trees as there are apples but still a challenging undertaking. Pruning is indeed a very labor intensive chore and not as easy as it looks, especially if you want to do it right. Continue reading
Winter pruning has now taken precedence in the orchard. The apple trees are now fully acclimated to tolerate cold temperatures as they have been exposed to freezing temperatures for several weeks. We perform most of our maintenance pruning while the trees are dormant. Dormant pruning allows for better visibility of the branches and increases the speed of the work. Recently pruned trees can be damaged when there is a sudden drop in temperatures, say 40 to 50 degrees, to 0 degrees or below. We feel it is better for our trees if we wait to prune until temperatures stay at a more constant temperature for extended periods. Continue reading
A new year has begun on the calendar and also in the orchard. The unseasonable temperatures of late November through mid-December here in the Midwest have put some kinks in the winter work schedule. Not only is pruning on hold but the peach trees are a little confused if this is Winter or if this is Spring. Some varieties of peaches are actually showing signs of bud swell. However, the apple trees are not showing any indications of bud swell and the forecasted colder temperatures for this week will be most welcome. We were fortunate that the recent precipitation came in the form of rain and not snow. These late season rains have helped rebuild the water table. Sometimes it is easy to forget the importance of having a sufficient natural water table. Most of the time many of us take water for granted. We turn on the tap and we always have water at our fingertips. Agriculture demands water. No water, no food. It is as simple as that. Continue reading
Another harvest is complete. We’ve finished picking the last of the “late” apples in the orchard, that being the Gold Rush and Black Twig Winesap. Both of these varieties are unique in their textures and tastes. Every season has its “stars” and this year the Black Twigs and Gold Rush ran a stiff competition for that title.
The “Gold Rush” apple.
The Gold Rush apple is relatively new to the apple growers in this area. Developed in the 1990’s at Purdue University, this apple has the texture of a Golden Continue reading
Yellow Delicious apples beginning to ripen!
The apples to be picked this week are an early variety from Stark’s Brothers’ Nursery in Louisiana, Missouri, dating from the late 1920’s. Our orchard had a nursery in Wenatchee, Washington take scions from the few surviving trees in the old part of our orchard and bud grafted this variety for us in the early 1980’s. It is considered a “golden” delicious and not a yellow but in today’s marketing arena it is better to call it Yellow Delicious. It characteristically has the russeting appearance and freckles. Sometimes in drier seasons, we do control some of the russeting but this year it reverted to its genetics and has an appearance somewhat different to what the average consumer is accustomed to seeing.
Most of our customers are familiar with the “smoothie” yellow apple. Our variety is seldom found in today’s orchards. In fact, I have an Amish customer that travels quite some distance to get his “Goldens.” Really, it should be considered an “heirloom” apple. Starks’ Brothers was the only nursery growing and marketing this apple in the late 1920’s.
This apple has many uses and is considered a favorite for many. It is an excellent eating apple with a sweet flavor and nice crunch. Can be used for cooking but apple will not cook up, but does cook tender. Good to eat fresh and often used for fried apples.
Beautiful red delicious!
Harvest is proceeding at a fast pace. We have finished picking several varieties and have begun to pick Winesaps this past week. As we harvest Chespeakes, we will also continue to pick our Yellow Delicious. The variety of Yellow Delicious in our orchard is an early variety from Stark’s Brothers’ Nursery in Louisiana, Missouri, dating from the late 1920’s. It is considered a “Golden” delicious. This particular variety characteristically has the russeting appearance and freckles. Most consumers are familiar with the “smoothie” yellow apple and they are somewhat surprised at the taste. Our variety is seldom found in today’s orchards. Starks’ Brothers was the only nursery growing and marketing this apple in the late 1920’s. Continue reading
Devoted followers of Honeycrisp are coming to the markets and if we’ve been asked once, we’ve been asked at least a hundred times at each market about the availability of this apple. Glad to say, “yes, we do have Honeycrisp.” Although, this apple variety is challenging to produce, our Honeycrisp apples are really “strutting their stuff” at this point in harvest. Honeycrisp has become one of our best selling apples. Continue reading