Saturday, May 16, 2015

PYO Strawberry Harvest, Thinning Peaches

Our fresh strawberries on waffles, with a little real maple syrup, make a great breakfast.
   Strawberry harvest started on May 11, and will run to about June 6 this year.  Strawberries are sold pick-your-own only, by appointment only, for $2.55 per quart + tax.  We already have people scheduled to pick strawberries each day through May 31, and have openings in the first week of June.  Phone 620-597-2450 to set up a day and time to pick strawberries, and I'll return your call to confirm.

Cheyenne and Clayton Mayfield had a great time picking strawberries with their mom Melinda on May 14.  The smaller strawberry plants in the background were just planted last fall, so only the established planting in front is producing many berries this year.
    Asparagus harvest should go for the next 2 weeks or so.  These are nice thick spears and I snap them off where they break easily, instead of cutting them at ground level, so almost all of the spear is tender and usable.  Phone 620-597-2450 to order asparagus, which we sell harvested for $2.79 per pound + tax.
   We still have about 80 lbs. of harvested  #2 'GoldRush' apples for sale now and for the next 2 weeks or so.  #1 'GoldRush' apples are now sold out until next Nov.  Cracked 'Kanza' pecans are also sold out until next Nov.
Three of our workers and I thinned peaches today.  Left to right, Brandon Ledford, Ben Miller and Tim Epler are on ladders thinning peaches on upper branches.
   Hand thinning of peaches, described in the previous post, continues.  This is a very labor-intensive job that takes over 500 hours.  Now that our college-age workers are done with classes for the semester, and our high schoolers are almost done, each of our 5 workers and I will thin peaches 40 to 46 hours per week for the next 2 weeks.
   From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment.  We'll be very busy thinning fruit on our 160 peach trees all during May, and from the peach orchard I can't see the driveway or hear cars come in, if people just drop by.  Thanks.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thinning Peaches & Harvesting Asparagus


   Peach thinning began last Saturday.  This is a huge job each May when we have a peach crop, and will take over 500 hours to thin excess fruit on our 160 peach trees. With no thinning, limbs would break from excessive fruit loads, all the fruit would stay too small to sell, and fruit rots would spread quickly as fruit touch each other.  So we remove excess fruit, leaving peaches 6 to 8 inches apart so they don't touch, enabling peaches to develop good size and increased sweetness, and greatly reducing fruit rots.
I used a pneumatic limb shaker, powered by an air compressor on the tractor, to start the peach thinning process on our younger peach orchard on Monday May 4.  These smaller trees thin fairly quickly, but the older trees in the background take much longer.
   First we use pneumatic limb shakers to shake loose fruit from the trees.  We shake each limb of each tree, which takes about 40 hours for 160 peach trees.  Then we follow up with hand thinning, keeping the best and largest fruit and twisting off the rest.  This will take about 480 hours.
Before thinning, peach branches have far too many fruit, which would cause limb breakage and result in tiny peaches with much fruit rot if excess fruit weren't removed.


The same branches, after limb shaking and hand thinning, have a good number of fruit that will develop increased size and sweetness.
   With temperatures in the 80's, I'm also harvesting asparagus three times each day, so we have lots to sell. Asparagus harvest should go for the next 3 weeks or so.  These are nice thick spears and I snap them off where they break easily, instead of cutting them at ground level, so almost all of the spear is tender and usable.  Phone 620-597-2450 to order asparagus, which we sell harvested for $2.79 per pound + tax.

Asparagus grows so fast with temperatures in the 80's, that I have to harvest it three times each day, in between thinning the peach orchard in the background.
   We still have some harvested 'GoldRush' apples, both #1's and #2's, for sale now and for the next 2 to 3 weeks or so.  Harvested apples are kept in top condition in our cooler, which is now down to about 240 pounds of apples (about 80 pounds of #1's and 160 pounds of #2's).  #2 apple prices are still $1.00 less for each 20 lbs. than last fall.  Scroll down 4 posts for prices.
   We also still have 5-lb. bags of cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale, for $14.86 + tax per bag.  We now have 7 bags (35 pounds) of pecans left before we're sold out (until next Nov.)
'Ouachita' blackberries are heavy with blooms now.  We should have a great thornless blackberry crop this year, from mid-June to early August.
   Strawberry harvest will start next week, and will run from about May 12 to June 5 this year.  Strawberries are sold pick-your-own only, by appointment only, for $2.55 per quart + tax.  We already have people scheduled to pick strawberries from May 12 through May 19, and have openings from May 20 on.  Phone 620-597-2450 to set up a day and time to pick strawberries.
   From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment, so phone 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 for asparagus, apples and/or pecans.  We'll be very busy thinning peaches all during May, and can't see the driveway or hear cars come in from the peach orchard.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Strawberries, Raspberries & Early Blackberries Blooming

    Strawberry plants are still blooming, and the berries which set earlier are growing.  Strawberry harvest will run from about May 12 to June 5 this year.  Strawberries are sold pick-your-own only, by appointment only, for $2.55 per quart + tax.  Phone 620-597-2450 to set up a day and time to pick strawberries.
Strawberry plants are still blooming.  Flowers with petals will ripen their berries about a month from now.  Berries which set earlier are growing and will start ripening about May 12.
   Strawberry harvest will be limited this year, as this is a replanting year.  We took out our 6-year-old strawberry planting after last year's harvest, then solarized the soil under black plastic over the summer to kill some weed seeds and disease organisms.  We just replanted that area this spring, so only the 3-year-old strawberry planting will produce fruit this year.
   Raspberry plants and the early-ripening thornless blackberry plants are also blooming now.  We should have large crops of both raspberries and blackberries this year.
'Natchez' thornless blackberry plants, our earliest-ripening blackberry variety, are blooming now.  They'll start ripening in mid-June.
   While apple trees bloomed a few weeks ago, I made more controlled crosses for my apple breeding program.  The flowers that I hand-pollinated are now developing as young fruits.  When they ripen, I'll save the seeds, stratify them over winter, and plant them in pots.  A few weeks ago I planted the seeds from last year's crosses in pots.  I'll grow them in the pots over the summer, and plant them in the field next fall.
Clusters of young apple fruits are now developing.  The center fruit in each cluster, with sepals and anthers removed, is one that I hand-pollinated.  When these fruit ripen, I'll save the seeds, grow them into trees, and evaluate the fruit for possible naming as a new variety.
   Bill recently grafted 7 selections from my apple breeding program, that I named last year, onto rootstocks in our main apple orchard.  They'll start bearing fruit identical to that variety in 3 or 4 years.
   Asparagus harvest is still going strong, and should go for the next 4 weeks or so.  These are nice thick spears and I snap them off where they break easily, instead of cutting them at ground level, so almost all of the spear is tender and usable.  Phone 620-597-2450 to order asparagus, which we sell harvested for $2.79 per pound + tax.
   We still have some harvested 'GoldRush' apples, both #1's and #2's, for sale now and for the next 3 to 4 weeks or so.  Harvested apples are kept in top condition in our cooler, which is now down to about 260 pounds of apples (about 100 pounds of #1's and 160 pounds of #2's).  #2 apple prices are still $1.00 less for each 20 lbs. than last fall.  Scroll down 3 posts for prices.
   We also still have 5-lb. bags of cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale, for $14.86 + tax per bag.  We now have 7 bags (35 pounds) of pecans left before we're sold out (until next Nov.)
   From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment, so phone 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 (or if I'm on the tractor and can't hear the bell, track me down).  We'll be very busy thinning fruit on our 160 peach trees all during May, and can't see the driveway or hear cars come in from the peach orchard.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Asparagus Yielding Heavily, Strawberries Blooming

   Asparagus is yielding heavily now, and harvest should go for the next 6 weeks or so.  These are nice thick spears and I snap them off where they break easily instead of cutting them at ground level, so almost all of the harvested spear is tender and usable.  Phone 620-597-2450 to order asparagus, which we sell harvested for $2.79 per pound + tax.
We grow 'Jersey Knight' asparagus, an all-male variety that produces nice thick spears, and I snap them off where they break easily, so almost all of the harvested spear is tender and usable.
   We still have many harvested 'GoldRush' apples, both #1's and #2's, for sale now and for the next 6 weeks or so.  Harvested apples are kept in top condition in our cooler, which is now down to about 500 pounds of apples (about 200 pounds of #1's and 300 pounds of #2's).  #2 apple prices are still $1.00 less for each 20 lbs. than last fall.  Scroll down 2 posts for prices.
   We also still have 5-lb. bags of cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale, for $14.86 + tax per bag.  We have about 16 bags (80 pounds) of pecans left before we're sold out (until next Nov.)
Strawberries are blooming now in our 3-year-old strawberry planting.  Strawberries are sold pick-your-own only, by appointment only.
   Strawberry harvest will be very limited this year, as this is a replanting year.  We took out our 6-year-old strawberry planting last summer and just replanted it this spring, so only the 3-year-old strawberry planting will produce fruit this year.  Strawberry harvest will run from about May 12 to June 5 this year.  Strawberries are sold pick-your-own only, by appointment only, for $2.55 per quart + tax.  Phone 620-597-2450 to set up a day and time to pick strawberries.
   From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment, so phone 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.  Thanks.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Asparagus, 'GoldRush' Apples & 'Kanza' Pecans for Sale

   Asparagus harvest started a couple days ago, and should go for the next 6 weeks or so.  These are nice thick spears and I snap them off where they break easily instead of cutting them at ground level, so almost all of the harvested spear is tender and usable.  Phone 620-597-2450 to order asparagus, which we sell harvested for $2.79 per pound + tax.
Our asparagus row is sending up many new spears each day, and will keep doing so for the next 6 weeks or so.
   We still have many harvested 'GoldRush' apples, both #1's and #2's, for sale now and for the next 6 weeks or so.  Prices are listed in the previous post.  Harvested apples are kept in top condition in our cooler, which is now down to about 700 pounds of apples.
Our apple orchard is in bloom with the start of next fall's apple crop, as redbud trees bloom along the driveway in the background.
   We also 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.  They keep for 3 years in the freezer in great condition.  We have about 20 bags (100 pounds) of pecans left before we're sold out.
   Strawberry harvest will be very limited this year, as we took out our older strawberry planting last summer and just replanted this spring.  Strawberry harvest will run from about May 12 to June 5 this year.  Strawberries are sold pick-your-own only, by appointment only, for $2.55 per quart + tax.  Phone 620-597-2450 to set up a day and time to pick strawberries.
   From Dec. 1 to May 31 we're open by appointment, so e-mail a few days ahead or phone a day 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.