Thursday, February 4, 2016

Still Sorting Apples, Cracking Pecans & Pruning Blackberries

   "What do you do all winter?" is a common question from customers.  This always makes me laugh, as there is far more work to be done in winter than I can get done.  I was asked this again the other day, by a woman who'd just bought 40 pounds of #1 apples.
   First I pointed to my apple sorting table in the sales building, and explained that I have to sort and clean all the apples we harvested last fall, which are stored in our coolers in large storage bins.  I pack them in trays that hold 20 pounds of #1 apples or #2 apples, and the #1 apples sell just about as fast as I sort them.  Since she'd just bought 20 pounds of #1 'Enterprise' apples and 20 pounds of #1 'GoldRush' apples, I had only one box left of #1 'Enterprise' apples and no boxes left of #1 'GoldRush' apples, until I got more sorted later that day.  I'd also delivered 140 pounds of #1 apples to schools two days earlier.
We have many 2nds 'Enterprise' apples, with small cracks, cork spots or other surface damage, in blue box at left.  These are great for baking or making applesauce or apple butter, and  buying 40 lbs. of 2nds apples saves $20.00 off the per-pound price of #1 apples. The #1 apples, such as this mixed box of  'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' apples in green box at right, sell just about as fast as I sort them.
   Next I pointed to the 24 rows of thornless blackberry and raspberry plants behind the sales building, and explained that we have to prune over 2000 blackberry plants plus 400 raspberry plants.  The floricanes that bore fruit last summer died to the ground soon after harvest, and have to be cut off at ground level, and the dead canes hauled to the burn pile and burned to prevent spread of cane diseases to the new canes.  The primocanes, which had only leaves last summer, become floricanes this spring and will bear fruit this next summer.  We need to cut back the side branches of these new canes, so fruit will have good size and the canes won't break under the weight of too many fruit.
We've already pruned these 'Natchez' thornless blackberry plants. We cut off at ground level the dead floricanes that bore fruit last summer, and cut back the side branches of the new canes that will bear fruit this next summer.
   Blackberry pruning is a big job that will take all winter.  Our workers help with this on Saturday afternoons when temperatures are above 50 F, so we had two workers help prune last Saturday and will hopefully have several workers help prune this Saturday.  When we finish blackberry pruning, we then need to prune the apple orchard and the pear orchard.  We usually prune the peach orchard during the workers' spring break from school in mid-March.  All of these are huge jobs.
This evening Bill burned the pile of blackberry prunings that our workers helped prune last Saturday.  The 8 rows of 'Triple Crown' blackberry plants at rear still need to be pruned.
   On weekdays when temperatures are above 50 F, I'm usually out pruning by myself, and can't always see or hear cars come in the driveway.  That's why we ask customers to phone 620-597-2450 a day ahead, and leave a message on the answering machine saying the day and about what time you're coming.  I do not need to call you back; I will get the message and meet you in the sales building when you come.  (The phone rings in the house, so if you wait to call until on your way here, I probably won't get the message before you come, unless it's very cold that day and I'm working inside on the computer.)
   When outdoor temperatures are between 30 and 50 F, and the temperature inside the sales building is 44 to 56 F, I'm usually sorting apples there.  When it's below 30 F outside, I work on the computer in the house.  Besides sending out e-mails, posting blogs, and posting on the Brendas Berries Facebook page, this winter I'm working on a 2nd edition of the college textbook I wrote, with Bill as second author, Fruit and Nut Production.  The 1st edition took 5 years to write and was published in 2007, and last fall the publisher wrote us that supplies are getting low, so we need to update the 600-page book for a 2nd edition.
The publisher's supplies of the college textbook we wrote are getting low, so when it's very cold I work on updating the 600-page book for a 2nd edition.
   My husband Bill is still cracking 'Kanza' pecans, as the bags of cracked pecans sell, since pecans store better in the cooler in-shell.  I keep the bags of cracked pecans in the freezer.  Bill cracks the pecans, blows off the loose shells, and then weighs the bags to 5 pounds.  So you get the equivalent of 6 pounds of in-shell pecans in each bag, and when you pick out the pecans, you get at least 3 pounds of nutmeats.
   We should have cracked 'Kanza' pecans and 'GoldRush' apples for sale until mid-May, and 'Enterprise' apples until late June.  Prices are detailed in the previous post.
   As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, "To everything is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

'Enterprise' & 'GoldRush' Apples & 'Kanza' Pecans Keep All Winter

   We still have many 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' apples for sale.  These apples taste much better than any sold in grocery stores, and are great for baking as well as fresh eating.  I give taste samples.
   'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' originated from an apple breeding program that began in 1945 at University of Illinois.  A cool, very wet spring had produced an epidemic of apple scab disease, which had defoliated every apple tree in the university's orchard.  Then-graduate student Fred Hough found a few trees in a genetic study, crosses of 'Rome Beauty' apple with the Siberian crabapple, Malus floribunda, that still had their leaves.  These trees were healthy because they had inherited a gene for high resistance (immunity) to apple scab disease from the Siberian crabapple parent.  These trees' fruit also took after the Siberian crabapple parent, so they were tiny.
   Dr. Hough began an apple breeding program that would continue for the rest of his life and beyond.  He began backcrossing one of the scab-immune selections with commercial apple cultivars, to increase fruit size in the progeny.  He involved a plant pathologist from Purdue University in the work, and when he graduated with his Ph.D. from University of Illinois and took a job at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Rutgers also joined this cooperative apple breeding program.
   Advanced selections from this cooperative breeding program were tested as Co-op 1,  Co-op 2, etc.  The first varieties released in the 1970's, 'Prima' and 'Priscilla', were given names beginning with PRI, for Purdue, Rutgers and Illinois.  'Enterprise', released in 1994, had the PRI in the middle of the name.  Starting with 'GoldRush', also released in 1994, breeders started giving cultivars descriptive names and dropped the PRI.
   'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' apples, released 49 years after the scab-immune apple breeding program began, are also known for their great taste and excellent keeping ability in cold storage.  'Enterprise' apples keep well in our cooler or a fridge for 6 to 7 months, and 'GoldRush' apples keep well in our cooler or a fridge for 8 to 10 months.  So we'll have these apples for sale until June.
We still have many 'Enterprise' apples (front box),  'GoldRush' apples (second box), and cracked 'Kanza' pecans (in bags at back) for sale.
   Small amounts of harvested apples cost $1.20 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of apples costs $23.15 + tax ($1.15 per pound + tax), which saves $1.00 off the per-pound price.  I pack apples into two plastic bags per box, so you can get a mixed box of 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' and still get the 20-lb. discount.
   We also have many harvested 2nds apples, with small cracks, cork spots or other surface damage.  These are great for baking such as apple-pecan bread and pies, or making applesauce or apple butter.  Usually 90% to 98% of the fruit is still usable, but they're 69% the cost at $0.83 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of 2nds apples costs $15.74 + tax ($0.79 per pound + tax) , which saves $1.00 off the per-pound price.
   If you buy 40 lbs. of 2nds apples, you save another $1.00 per box, for a total of $4.00 off the 2nds per-pound price, and a total of $20.00 off the per-pound price of #1 apples.  When you buy two boxes, each 20-lb. box of 2nds apples costs just $14.82 + tax, so that's $29.64 + tax ($0.74 per pound + tax) for 40 lbs. of 2nds apples.
   We also still have cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale, for $15.05 per 5-pound bag + tax.  My husband Bill cracks the pecans, blows off the loose shells, and then weighs the bags to 5 pounds.  So you get the equivalent of 6 pounds of in-shell pecans in each bag, and when you pick out the pecans, you get at least 3 pounds of nutmeats.  We should have cracked pecans for sale until mid-May.
   'Kanza' pecan is a USDA variety that was named by my husband Bill Reid, who is the director of Kansas State University's Pecan Experiment Field and the Extension Specialist on Pecans for the states of Kansas and Missouri.  All USDA pecan varieties are named after Native American tribes, because pecan is a native American crop.  Bill had tested this breeding selection, USDA 55-11-11, at Kansas State University's Pecan Experiment Field since 1981, and urged the USDA to release it and name it 'Kanza' after the Native American tribe for which the state of Kansas is named.  The USDA did so and released 'Kanza' in 1996.
   "'Kanza' pecan originated from a hand-pollinated cross between 'Major' and 'Shoshoni' made by Louis Romberg in 1955," Bill wrote on his blog, northernpecans.blogspot.com.  "Louis was the USDA's first pecan breeder hired way back in 1931.  The objective in making a cross between a northern cultivar ('Major') and a large, thin-shelled cultivar of southern origins ('Shoshoni') was to develop a new pecan cultivar with large nut size, thin shell and early ripening.  'Kanza' has characteristics from both parents. 'Kanza' inherited the tear-drop shape, thin shell and excellent shelling ability from its 'Shoshoni' parent.  From its 'Major' parent, 'Kanza' inherited scab resistance, a thick firm husk, early ripening, and great kernel flavor."
    "'Kanza' is among the best shelling pecans that can be grown.  After cracking, 'Kanza' nuts produce over 95% intact kernel halves, if the cracker is set properly.  The kernels are golden in color and very attractive (photo at left).  Get a customer to taste a 'Kanza' kernel, and you'll have them asking for the nut by name from now on." 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Still Many 'Enterprise' & 'GoldRush' Apples & Pecans for Sale

   Our workers and I are very busy pruning our 2 acres of thornless blackberries this week, since the workers are off from school and the weather is pretty warm for late Dec.  This is a big job that will take all winter, but we're making good progress.
Our workers and I are very busy pruning blackberries this week.
   We still have many 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' apples for sale, plus small amounts of 5 other apple selections.  These apples taste much better than any sold in stores, and are great for baking as well as fresh eating.  I give taste samples.
   Harvested apples are kept in top condition in our cooler, set at 34 F, ideal for apples.  'Enterprise' apples keep well in our cooler or a fridge for 6 to 7 months, and 'GoldRush' apples keep well in our cooler or a fridge for 8 to 10 months.  So we'll have apples for sale until late May or June.
   Small amounts of harvested apples cost $1.20 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of apples costs $23.15 + tax ($1.15 per pound + tax), which saves $1.00 off the per-pound price.  I harvest apples into two plastic bags per box, so you can get a mixed box of 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' and still get the 20-lb. discount.
I pack many mixed boxes of 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' apples , plus boxes of all 'Enterprise' and all 'GoldRush' apples.
   We also have many harvested 2nds apples, with small bird pecks, cracks or other surface damage.  These are great for economical holiday baking such as apple-pecan bread and pies, or making applesauce or apple butter.  Usually 90% to 95% of the fruit is still usable, but they're 60% the cost at $0.83 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of 2nds apples costs $15.74 + tax ($0.79 per pound + tax) , which saves $1.00 off the per-pound price.
   If you buy 40 lbs. of 2nds apples, you save another $1.00 per box, for a total of $4.00 off the per-pound price.  Each 20-lb. box of 2nds apples costs just $14.82 + tax, so that's $29.64 + tax ($0.74 per pound + tax) for 40 lbs. of 2nds apples.
   My husband Bill is still very busy harvesting, cleaning and cracking pecans for sale.  We still have cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale, for $15.05 per 5-pound bag + tax.  Bill cracks the pecans, blows off the loose shells, and then weighs the bags to 5 pounds.  So you get the equivalent of 6 pounds of in-shell pecans in each bag, and when you pick out the pecans, you get at least 3 pounds of nutmeats.  Pecan harvest will continue until late January or February, and we should have cracked pecans for sale until mid-May.
   Recipes using apples and pecans are posted as Notes on our Facebook page, Brendas Berries.  Each year I serve Healthy Apple Salad with our Christmas dinner, as our grown kids love it and it looks festive with apples, craisins and celery in Christmas colors.
Our grown kids love Healthy Apple Salad with our Christmas dinner.
   From Dec. 1 to May 31, we're open by appointment.  That means to phone 620-597-2450 a day ahead, and leave a message on the answering machine saying the day and about what time you're coming.  I do not need to call you back; I will get the message and meet you in the sales building when you come. The phone rings in the house, and I only come in to check for phone messages at noon and mid-afternoon, so if you wait to call until you're on your way, I probably won't get your message before you come.
   I am here every day, except Sunday morning when I'm at church, but can't always see the driveway when I'm pruning at the back of the blackberry planting.  So I appreciate a call a day ahead, saying the day and about what time you're coming, so I can look for you.
   Have a joyful Christmas!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Apples & Pecans Great for Holiday Baking

   We've now harvested all apples, and have many 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' for sale, plus small amounts of  about 16 other apple varieties and selections.  We also still have some 'Shinko' Asian pears for sale, until they sell out.  I give taste samples of all our apple varieties and Asian pears, to those interested in buying them.
   Harvested apples and Asian pears are kept in top condition in our cooler, set at 34 F, ideal for apples and pears.  So you can come buy harvested apples and Asian pears even when it's raining.
We have many boxes of  'Enterprise' (right box), 'GoldRush' (left box), and 'Enterprise' + 'GoldRush' (middle box) apples for sale.
   'Enterprise' apples keep well in our cooler or a fridge for 6 to 7 months, and 'GoldRush' apples keep well in our cooler or a fridge for 8 to 10 months.  All winter I sort apples from the large storage bins into trays holding 20 pounds each.  We currently have about 1200 pounds of sorted and cleaned apples in these trays, ready to sell.
All winter I clean and sort apples from the large storage bins into trays holding 20 pounds each.  It's 45 to 52 F inside the sales building, so I need to dress warmly.
  Small amounts of harvested apples and Asian pears cost $1.20 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of apples or Asian pears costs $23.15 + tax, which saves $1.00 off the per-pound price.  I harvest apples and Asian pears into two plastic bags per box, so you can get a mixed box of two apple varieties, or one bag of Asian pears and one bag of apples, and still get the 20-lb. discount.
   We also have some harvested 2nds apples, with small bird pecks, cracks or other surface damage.  These are great for making apple butter, pies, breads, or other holiday baking.  Usually 90% to 95% of the fruit is still usable, but they're 60% the cost at $0.83 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of 2nds apples costs $15.74 + tax (that's $0.79 per pound + tax), which saves $1.00 off the per-pound price.
2nds apples are great for economical  holiday baking.  I made this apple crostata with caramelized pecan topping for dessert for Thanksgiving dinner.  The recipe is posted as a Note on our Facebook page, Brendas Berries.
   If you buy 40 lbs. of 2nds apples, you save another $1.00 per box, for a total of $4.00 off the per-pound price.  Each 20-lb. box of 2nds apples costs just $14.82 + tax, so that's $29.64 + tax ($0.74 per pound + tax) for 40 lbs. of 2nds apples.
   My husband Bill is now very busy cleaning and cracking pecans for sale.  Further pecan harvest will be delayed for a week due to all the rain.  We now have cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale, for $15.05 per 5-pound bag + tax.  Bill cracks the pecans, blows off the loose shells, and then weighs the bags to 5 pounds.  So you get the equivalent of 6 pounds of in-shell pecans in each bag, and when you pick out the pecans, you get at least 3 pounds of nutmeats.  Pecan harvest will continue until late January or February, and we should have cracked pecans for sale until late May to June.
   For payment, we accept cash or checks, but NO credit cards or debit cards.  Please bring your checkbook or enough cash to cover the amount of fruit and pecans you'll buy.
   Tomorrow, Nov. 30, is the last day of our fall hours: Mon. to Sat. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., & Sundays 1 to 6 p.m.  From Dec. 1 to May 31, we're open by appointment.  That means to phone 620-597-2450 a day ahead, and leave a message on the answering machine saying the day and about what time you're coming.  I will get the message and meet you in the sales building when you come.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

All Apples Harvested, Pecan Harvest Continues

"All is safely gathered in, 
before the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide 
for our wants to be supplied.
Come, ye thankful people, come,
Praise the God of harvest home."

   We praise God that yesterday afternoon, Sat. Nov. 21, we finished harvesting all remaining 'GoldRush' apples plus a few 'Enterprise' apples that were left on the trees.  Our 6 workers, my husband Bill and I harvested over 2000 pounds of apples in 4 hours, despite a temperature of 37 F all afternoon.  We got the apples in before the 23 F freeze that occurred this morning.
Brandon Ledford (left) and Luke Laws (right) added 'GoldRush' apples they harvested to the large storage bins in the trailer, while Ben Miller (far right) and our other workers Tim Epler, Skyler England and Tanner Mix all picked apples.
   We now have over 9000 pounds of apples in our two coolers.  The second cooler was just installed 2 weeks ago.  So we will have top-quality 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' apples for sale until late May or June.
   'Enterprise' apples keep well in our cooler or a fridge for 6 to 7 months, and 'GoldRush' apples keep well in our cooler or a fridge for 8 to 10 months.  All winter I sort apples from the large storage bins into trays holding 20 pounds each.  We currently have about 1000 pounds of sorted and cleaned apples in these trays, ready to sell.
   Besides plenty of 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush', we have small amounts of about 16 other apple varieties and selections for sale.  We also still have many 'Shinko' Asian pears for sale for about 2 more weeks, until they sell out.  I give taste samples of all our apple varieties and Asian pears, to those interested in buying them.
   Small amounts of harvested apples and Asian pears cost $1.20 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of apples or Asian pears costs $23.15 + tax, which saves $1.00 off the per-pound price.  I harvest apples and Asian pears into two plastic bags per box, so you can get a mixed box of two apple varieties, or one bag of Asian pears and one bag of apples, and still get the 20-lb. discount.
   We also have some harvested 2nds apples, with small bird pecks, cracks or other surface damage.  These are great for making apple butter, pies, breads, or other holiday baking.  Usually 90% to 95% of the fruit is still usable, but they're 60% the cost at $0.83 per pound + tax.  A 20-lb. box of 2nds apples costs $15.74 + tax, which saves $1.00 off the per-pound price
I made this apple pecan bread last night, for the Bread Breakfast we have each year at Center Christian Church on the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving.  The recipe is posted as a Note on our Facebook page, Brendas Berries, along with many other recipes using apples and pecans.
   Pecan harvest resumed late last week after the ground dried from the 3.35 inches of rain we got early last week.  My husband Bill is now very busy harvesting, cleaning and cracking the pecans for sale.  We now have cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale, for $15.05 per 5-pound bag + tax.
   Bill cracks the pecans, blows off the loose shells, and then weighs the bags to 5 pounds.  So you get the equivalent of 6 pounds of in-shell pecans in each bag, and when you pick out the pecans, you get at least 3 pounds of nutmeats.  Pecan harvest will continue until January or February, and we should have cracked pecans for sale until mid-May.
We now have cracked 'Kanza' pecans for sale, for $15.05 per 5-pound bag + tax. 
   For payment, we accept cash or checks, but NO credit cards or debit cards.  Please bring your checkbook or enough cash to cover the amount of fruit and pecans you'll buy.
   Until Nov. 30, we're still open our fall hours: Mon. to Sat. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., & Sundays 1 to 6 p.m.  From Dec. 1 to May 31, we're open by appointment.  That means to phone 620-597-2450 a day ahead, and leave a message on the answering machine saying the day and about what time you're coming.  I will get the message and meet you in the sales building when you come.