Thursday, September 22, 2016

Harvesting Apples from Breeding Program

   I'm still harvesting some early apple varieties and a few 'Enterprise' apples.  Most 'Enterprise' apples will ripen between Sept. 26 and Nov. 5.  Our pick-your-own apple season starts this Sat. Sept. 24, but only a few 'Enterprise' apples will be ripe yet, so the best pick-your-own time is the entire month of Oct.
   All our apple varieties are immune to apple scab disease, so we don't have to spray for that disease, so we can put on 1/3 fewer fungicide sprays than if we grew scab-susceptible apple varieties such as 'Jonathan'.  'Enterprise' and most of our other apple varieties originated from a cooperative apple breeding program between Univ. of Illinois, Purdue Univ. and Rutgers Univ. that began in 1945.  We also have one tree each of two other selections from this cooperative apple breeding program, Coop 27 and Coop 34, which are not yet named.
Coop 34 apples are just starting to ripen.  I harvested a few today and they all sold, but more will ripen over the next couple weeks.
   I also have my own apple breeding program, which uses apple varieties immune to apple scab disease as parents.  I've selected several dozen seedlings for further testing, and have named 15 apple selections so far.  Today I harvested selection SD34 1301, a cross of 'Sundance' and Coop 34 that I've tested for 4 years now, and decided to name it 'Sunburst'.  I harvest all the apple trees from my breeding program, as there's just one tree of each cross, and I take notes on fruit characteristics of each cross.
Today I started harvesting this selection from a cross of 'Sundance' and Coop 34, and named it 'Sunburst'.
   Asian pears are almost all harvested now, and almost all have sold.  Our European pear crop was greatly hurt by the 6 frosts during bloom, so we had only a very few European pears for sale this year, only about 5% of a full crop, and almost all have sold.
   I give taste samples of all our apple varieties.  Scroll down two blog posts for apple prices.
   From Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, as the sidebar at left says, we're open our fall hours: Mon. to Sat. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. only.  I'm usually harvesting apples in the orchard, so I put a sign on the sales building to ring the bell.  Ring it loudly, once or twice, and I'll hear it.
   Many early mornings I apply herbicides around fruit plants, and I can't see or hear cars come in the driveway while I'm spraying.  So if you want to come before 10 a.m., please phone 620-597-2450 the day before you come and leave a message saying the day and time you'll come, so I can look for you. Thanks.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Still Harvesting Early Apples & Asian Pears

   I'm still harvesting some early apple varieties and Asian pears.  I harvest all the early apple varieties, because fruit must be harvested promptly or they will drop when ripe.  'Jonafree' apples are mostly harvested now, and most have sold.
   I started harvesting 'Querina' apples a couple days ago and have some for sale, but I just planted the 'Querina' trees 5 years ago, so they aren't bearing too many apples yet.  Like all our apple varieties, 'Querina' is immune to apple scab disease, so we don't have to spray for that disease, so we can put on 1/3 fewer fungicide sprays than if we grew scab-susceptible apple varieties such as 'Jonathan'.  'Querina' tastes similar to 'Jonathan' but better, and is firmer.
I just planted 'Querina' trees (right) 5 years ago, so these young trees aren't bearing many apples yet.  'Enterprise' apples (left) will ripen mainly between Sept. 22 and Nov. 5.
   Today I started harvesting a very few 'Enterprise' apples.  Most 'Enterprise' apples will ripen between Sept. 22 and Nov. 5.  Our pick-your-own apple season won't start until very late Sept., and the best pick-your-own time is the entire month of Oct.
   I harvest all the pears and Asian pears, since they're tricky to pick and we need ladders to reach them.  (We do not ever allow customers to use ladders to pick fruit.)  Our European pear crop was greatly hurt by the 6 frosts during bloom, so we'll have very few European pears for sale this year, only about 5% of a full crop.
I'm still harvesting some 'Shinko' Asian pears.  The fruit remaining on the trees are all up high, so I took this photo from high on the ladder before picking some of these.
   The Asian pear crop survived the frosts pretty well, and we still have some for sale.  Asian pears stay firm and crunchy, are very sweet and juicy, and keep well in the fridge for 3 to 4 months.
   I give taste samples of all our apple and pear varieties.  See the previous blog post for apple and pear prices.
   We have harvested apples and Asian pears for sale in late mornings and afternoons.  From Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, as the sidebar at left says, we're open our fall hours: Mon. to Sat. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. only.
   Many early mornings I apply herbicides around fruit plants, and I can't see or hear cars come in the driveway while I'm spraying.  Some weekday early mornings I'll deliver apples to schools, or may have a dentist appointment.  So if you want to come before 10 a.m., please phone 620-597-2450 the day before you come and leave a message saying the day and time you'll come, so I can look for you. Thanks.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Some Early Apples and Asian Pears Ripe Now

   Some of our early apple varieties and Asian pears have started ripening.  I harvest all the early apple varieties, because fruit must be harvested promptly or they will drop when ripe.  I also harvest all the apple trees from my breeding program, as there's just one tree of each cross, and I take notes on fruit characteristics of each cross.
Last week we had a beautiful double rainbow appear over apple trees from my breeding program.  I'll harvest all these apple trees over the next couple months.
   Our later apple varieties, especially 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush', are much more forgiving, and fruit hang on the tree for a couple weeks after they are ripe.  So those later apple varieties are the ones that we allow customers to pick.  Our main apple harvest, and pick-your-own apple season, won't start until very late Sept., and the best pick-your-own time is the entire month of Oct.
   I harvest all the pears and Asian pears, since they're tricky to pick and we need ladders to reach them.  (We do not ever allow customers to use ladders to pick fruit.)  Our European pear crop was greatly hurt by the 6 frosts during bloom, so we'll have very few European pears for sale this year, only about 5% of a full crop. 
   The Asian pear crop survived the frosts pretty well.  I just started harvesting 'Shinko' Asian pears a couple days ago.  Asian pears stay firm and crunchy, are very sweet and juicy, and keep well in the fridge for 3 to 4 months.  I give taste samples of all our apple and pear varieties.
'Shinko' Asian pears will ripen over the next month.
  Small amounts of harvested Asian pears and apples cost $1.20 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of Asian pears or apples costs $23.15 + tax, which saves $1.00 off the per-pound price.  I harvest Asian pears and apples into two plastic bags per box, so you can get a mixed box of one bag of Asian pears and one bag of apples, and still get the 20-lb. discount.
   We also have some harvested 2nds Asian pears and many 2nds apples, great for baking or for making Asian pear preserves or apple butter.  Usually about 90% of the fruit is still usable, but they're 69% the cost at $0.83 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of 2nds Asian pears or 2nds apples costs just  $15.74 + tax ($0.79 per pound + tax), which saves $8.00 off a 20-lb. box of #1 Asian pears or #1 apples.  If you get 40 lbs. of 2nds apples, the price goes down to just $0.74 per pound + tax ($14.82 + tax per 20-lb. box).
   We have harvested apples and Asian pears for sale in late mornings and afternoons.  From Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, as the sidebar at left says, we're open our fall hours: Mon. to Sat. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. only.  We're open as usual on Labor Day.
   Most early mornings I'm still applying desperately-needed herbicides, and I can't see or hear cars come in the driveway while I'm spraying.  So if you want to come in early morning, please phone 620-597-2450 the day before you come and leave a message saying the day and time you'll come, so I can look for you. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pruning Peaches and Thornless Blackberries

   Harvest seasons for peaches and thornless blackberries have now ended, so there will be no more peaches or thornless blackberries in 2016.  We are now very busy pruning the peach trees and thornless blackberry plants, which are both very big jobs.
Our two college student workers, Brandon Ledford (left) and Ben Miller (right) are still pruning the peach trees through the end of this week. They've already pruned the row to the left, so the trees are much lower and less wide.
   Our two college student workers are still pruning the peach trees through the end of this week, then they go back to college.  Our four high school student workers started their senior year today, so from now until graduation they'll only work for us on Saturdays and school breaks.  When they finish pruning the peach trees, they'll help me prune the thornless blackberry plants.
I've been pruning the thornless blackberry plants in late mornings.  These 'Natchez' plants in the foreground have had their side branches pruned back, while plants in the background have not yet been pruned.
   The 2016 apple harvest will start next week with very small amounts of some very early apple varieties.  We have just one tree of 'Gala', two trees of 'Jonafree', and a few trees of 'Crimson Crisp' that were just planted 4 years ago, so they only have a few fruit this year.
This 'Crimson Crisp' tree has fruit ready to harvest in a few days. I just planted these trees 4 years ago, so they only have a few fruit this year.
   We also still have a few 'Enterprise' apples for sale.  These were picked in mid-late Nov. 2015, and are still crisp and juicy since they keep well in a cooler for 8 to 10 months.  The 2016 'Enterprise' apple harvest (and pick-your-own apple season) won't start until very late Sept., and the best pick-your-own time is the entire month of Oct.
Most of these 'Jonafree' apples are not ripe yet, but harvest will start next week.
   We have harvested apples for sale in late mornings and from 7 p.m. until dark, through Aug. 31.  Most early mornings I'm applying desperately-needed herbicides around the apple trees, and I can't see or hear cars come in the driveway while I'm spraying.  So if you want to come in early morning, please phone 620-597-2450 the day before you come and leave a message saying the day and time you'll come, so I can look for you.