What's Growing & How
U-Pick| Irrigation & Equipment|
Apple trees normally take 3 to 4 years before we start to be able to pick any quantity of apples.
The trees are planted in late April or early may. With the new dwarfing rootstalks the trees produce so many apples that they are not capable of supporting the weight of the apples so we have to install a trellis system. This trellis also gives us something to train the tree to so that it grows straight up instead of zigzag. Soon after planting we install large wooden posts every 40 feet and a small metal or bamboo post at every tree, and tie each tree to their individual post. Grass also gets planted around this time. The grass helps control the weeds as well as keeping it from getting too muddy in the spring and fall.
The trees are pruned in March and we will sometime tie down large limbs to reduce the vigor of the limbs and this also helps them to develop fruit buds which will produce apple in the future. The trees are kept small because they produce fruit when they are very young. The second year each tree might produce a couple of apples but by the third year there is a surprising number of apples and this is energy that in the past the tree would have put into growing taller.
Third Year On
Apple trees are pruned every winter. They will start to show green leafs in early May and normally by May 24th they will be in full bloom. Many of the bloom do not set and this is a good thing. Each cluster of bloom has 6 individual blossoms and if we get 1 apple from these 6 blossoms that will be all the fruit the tree can handle. We go back in mid July and remove by hand the extra fruit. If we do not the tree will not have enough energy to grow all of the apples to a marketable size. Most of the fruit will be very small and end up on the ground. In mid august we start summer pruning. This process allows light into the center of the tree to help color the apples; as well it removes any undesirable branches from the tree. On green and yellow verities this is not necessary to do in the summer but if we have time we do it in the fall because it is a lot warmer than trying to do it in the winter. We start picking with Mac’s in early September. They are put in Controlled Atmosphere storage for sale throughout the winter. This storage decreases the oxygen in the air from 21% to 3% and increases CO2 levels from 0.5% to 5%. This slows the respiration rate of the apple and thus allows us to store it for extended periods of time. (Some verities can store up to 12 months this way)