Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Peach Trees in Full Bloom

   Our peach orchard is in beautiful full bloom now, praise God.  If we make it through the next 2 weeks without a killing freeze, we should have a great peach crop this summer.
Our older peach orchard, looking north with 'Challenger' trees in the foreground, is in beautiful full bloom now.
   Our older peach orchard, which I planted in 2002 to 2004, still has about 100 bearing trees.  Our newer peach orchard, planted in 2012 to 2013, will have its first substantial crop this year on about 50 bearing trees.
Our two plumcot trees, with white petals, bloom amidst the peach trees with pink petals.
   Last week I planted 10 replacement peach trees in our newer peach orchard, to replace trees that had died.  This evening Bill and I laid out two additional rows of peach trees in this orchard and dug holes, and tomorrow I'll spend all day planting 28 more trees.
I marked spots for Bill to dig holes with the auger for planting two more rows of peach trees tomorrow, with our newer peach orchard blooming in the background.
   I'm planting 14 more trees of 'Intrepid', my favorite peach variety, since 15 years is a long life for a peach tree, and the 'Intrepid' trees in our older peach orchard have started dying off.  I'm also planting 14 trees of 'Souvenirs', a promising new variety.
Bill dug holes with the auger for planting two more rows of peach trees tomorrow, as the sun was setting over our newer peach orchard blooming in the background..
   We still have harvested #1 and #2 'GoldRush' apples, kept in top condition in our cooler, for sale for the next 2 months or so, until late May.  The cooler is now down to less than 20% full with about 850 pounds of apples.  We also have cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale for the next 2 months or so, and Bill's homemade jams made from our fruit.  Scroll down 4 posts for prices.
   From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment, so phone 620-597-2450 a day or so ahead (or at least a few hours ahead) and leave a message on the answering machine saying when you're coming.  If you drop by on a nice day and I don't see you come in, since I'm working elsewhere on the farm, ring the bell on the sales building.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Still Many 'GoldRush' Apples & Pecans for Sale

   We still have many harvested 'GoldRush' apples, both #1's and #2's, for sale for the next 2 to 3 months.  We also have a few #1 'Scarlett O'Hara' apples for sale for the next few weeks or so (until they sell out).  We've now sold out of #1 'Enterprise' apples and have just about 10 lbs. left of #2 'Enterprise' apples.
   I eat a fresh 'GoldRush' apple every day with my lunch.  'GoldRush' apples keep well in a fridge or cooler for 8 to 10 months, so they're still crisp, juicy and sweet for fresh eating, with an intense flavor that makes them my favorite apple.  #2 'GoldRush' apples (with small cracks) are wonderful for salads, apple slices, baking, applesauce, apple butter, etc.
#1 'GoldRush' apples (in green box at right) are great for fresh eating.  #2 'GoldRush' apples (with small cracks, in blue box at left) are wonderful for salads, apple slices, baking, etc.
   Harvested apples are kept in top condition in our cooler, which is now down to about 30% full with 1400 pounds of apples.  We also have cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale for the next 2 months or so, and Bill's homemade jams made from our fruit.  Scroll down 3 posts for prices.
   Warm weather is forecast for this Sat. March 7 and all next week, so I'll be out pruning apple trees or pear trees every afternoon.  Our workers will join us when they're on spring break from college or high school.
   From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment, so phone 620-597-2450 a day or so ahead (or at least a few hours ahead) and leave a message on the answering machine saying when you're coming.  If you drop by on a nice day and I don't see you come in, since I'm working elsewhere on the farm, ring the bell on the sales building.  If it's very cold or raining or snowing and I'm not in the sales building, phone 620-597-2450 or come up to the house. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pruning Young & Older Apple Trees

   Whenever the weather is warm enough in February, I'm out pruning apple trees.  This past Saturday was perfect pruning weather, so our worker Ben Miller and I started lowering our 13-year-old 'Enterprise' apple trees with pneumatic pole loppers.
Ben Miller (pictured) and I started lowering our 'Enterprise' apple trees with pneumatic pole loppers, powered by the blue air compressor on the tractor at left.   The apple tree to the right of Ben was pruned already; we're lowering the 13-year-old trees by 3 to 4 feet.
   Pruning of young trees goes much faster, and requires only hand pruners and hand loppers.  I prune young apple trees to a central leader, and remove narrrow-angled branches and branches that are too dense or cross other branches.  I also remove branches arising too low or high on the trunk.  Then I head back the central leader and the remaining side branches.
This 2-year-old apple tree, before pruning, is too tall and has some narrrow-angled branches and branches that are too dense or cross other branches.
The same tree after pruning has excess branches removed, and the central leader and the remaining side branches headed back.

  We still have many harvested 'GoldRush' apples, both #1's and #2's, for sale for the next 3 months or so.  We also have some #1 'Scarlett O'Hara' apples for sale for the next month or so (until they sell out).  We've now sold out of #1 'Enterprise' apples and have almost sold out of #2 'Enterprise' apples.  Harvested apples are kept in top condition in our cooler, which is now down to about 45% full with 2000 pounds of apples.  We also have cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale for the next 2 months or so.  Scroll down 2 posts for prices.
Our #2 'GoldRush' apples, and the few remaining #2 'Enterprise' apples, are great in salads such as this Apple Cherry Pecan Salad that I made for a church dinner last Friday.
   From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment, so call 620-597-2450 (which rings in the house) a day or so ahead (or at least a few hours ahead), and leave a message saying when you're coming to get apples and/or pecans.  If you drop by on a nice day and I don't see you come in, since I'm working elsewhere on the farm, ring the bell on the sales building.  If it's very cold or raining or snowing and I'm not in the sales building, phone 620-597-2450 or come up to the house.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dormant Pruning & Propagating Apple Trees

   We've taken advantage of the nice weather the past few days to start dormant pruning of our apple orchard, which is a big job each winter.  Our workers Brandon Ledford and Ben Miller came Saturday afternoon to help prune apple trees.
Ben Miller (left) and Brandon Ledford (right) used hand loppers to thin out overly dense branches in 'Enterprise' apple trees.
   We used hand loppers and hand pruners to thin out overly dense branches, prune back fruiting branches that droop too low, and prune back long limbs that are spreading too far into the aisles.  Later we'll use pneumatic pole pruners to keep trees lower by pruning back upper branches.
Bill used pole pruners to cut scionwood from the upper branches of a selection from my apple breeding program, so he can propagate this selection.
   Bill cut scionwood of 7 selections from my apple breeding program that I named this past fall.  This spring, he'll graft the scions onto rootstocks in our apple orchard, so in a few years we'll have more trees producing these new apple selections.

Bill cut the scionwood of 'Sun Giant' and other apple selections into 6- to 8-inch pieces, then stores scions of each apple selection in a plastic bag in the fridge until spring, when he'll graft the scions onto rootstocks in our apple orchard.
   We'll have apples for sale for the next 4 months or so, and pecans for sale for the next 2 months or so.  Prices are listed in the previous post.
   From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment, so call 620-597-2450 (which rings in the house) or e-mail a day or so in advance, and leave a message saying when you're coming to get apples and/or pecans.  If you drop by on a nice day and I don't see you come in, since I'm working elsewhere on the farm, ring the bell on the sales building.  If it's very cold or raining or snowing and I'm not in the sales building, phone 620-597-2450 or come up to the house.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year Sale on #2 Apples

  We still have many harvested 'GoldRush' apples, both #1's and #2's, for sale now and for the next 4 to 5 months.  #1 (practically perfect) 'GoldRush' apples keep well for 8 to 10 months in a refrigerator, and get sweeter as the starches convert into sugars.  Fully-ripened 'GoldRush' apples have a taste similar to 'Honeycrisp', and 'GoldRush' is my favorite apple for fresh eating.  #2 'GoldRush' apples (with small cracks) are wonderful for salads, apple slices, baking, applesauce, apple butter, etc.
   We also have some #1 'Scarlett O'Hara' apples for sale for the next couple months (until they sell out).  'Scarlett O'Hara' apples are sweet-tart, with a strong unique flavor that some customers love, and keep well for about 4 months in a refrigerator.  We sold out of #1 'Enterprise' apples but have many #2 'Enterprise' apples.  'Enterprise' apples are sweet-tart, great for both fresh eating and baking, and are a favorite of many customers.  Harvested apples are kept in top condition in our cooler, which now holds about 3000 pounds of apples.
   #2 apple prices are now $1.00 less for each 20 lbs. than last fall.  Smaller amounts of harvested #2 apples are still $0.83 per pound + tax, but 20 lbs. #2's are now just $14.86 + tax ($0.74 per pound), and 40 lbs. #2's are just $27.87 + tax ($0.70 per pound).  You can also get the 40-lb. discount by buying 20 lbs. #1's ($22.29 + tax = $1.11 per pound) and 20 lbs. #2's ($13.93 + tax = $0.70 per pound).  Harvested #1 apples are still $1.21 per pound + tax, 20 lbs. #1's are still $23.22 + tax ($1.16 per pound), and 40 lbs. #1's are still $44.59 + tax ($1.11 per pound).
#2 apples like these, with small cracks or other surface damage, are now $1.00 less for each 20 lbs. than last fall.  They're great for salads, apple slices, baking, applesauce, apple butter, etc.
     Fresh apples have many health benefits.  They're high in calcium, good for building bones and teeth, and help prevent bone loss and tooth decay when eaten regularly.  Apples are high in fiber, crunchy, and satisfy your sweet tooth, yet are low in calories.  Fresh apples fill you up without causing weight gain, and can help you lose weight if you eat fresh apples instead of fattening foods.  Eating apples regularly also helps prevent colon cancer, some other cancers and some digestive problems.  There is truth in the old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
    Pecans are also beneficial, as they are high in omega-3 oils that can help prevent heart disease, some cancers, and Alzheimer's disease.  We still have 5-lb. bags of cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale, for $14.86 + tax per bag.  'Kanza' is a larger pecan variety, with excellent flavor.  Our Facebook page, Brendas Berries, has many recipes posted as Notes that feature apples and pecans.

Our 5-lb. bags of cracked 'Kanza' pecans contain the equivalent of 6 lbs. of in-shell pecans, since after cracking them, Bill blows off excess shells before he weighs the bags.  They're easy to pick out and you get at least 3 lbs. of nutmeats from a 5-lb. bag of cracked 'Kanza' pecans.
   We also have Bill's homemade jams and fruit butters for sale, all made from fruit we grow.  He uses low-sugar pectin, so our fruit products are made with more fruit and less sugar.  They cost $5.57 + tax per pint jar, and if you return the clean, empty jar to us after finishing the jam, you get $0.50 off your next jar of jam.
   We'll have apples and pecans for sale for the next 5 months, and from Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment.  Call 620-597-2450 (which rings in the house) or e-mail a day or so in advance, and leave a message saying when you're coming to get apples and/or pecans.  If you drop by on a nice day and I don't see you come in, since I'm working elsewhere on the farm, ring the bell on the sales building.  If it's very cold or raining or snowing and I'm not in the sales building, phone 620-597-2450 or come up to the house.