Monday, January 21, 2013

Apple Pruning Has Begun

   We started the annual winter pruning of apple trees this past Sat. afternoon, when the weather was warm.  This is a big job that will continue for the next couple months.  Then we'll move on to pruning pear trees, then the peach orchard.
   First Bill uses the chain saw to cut off any big limbs that are broken, too low to the ground, too high in the tree, or competing with other limbs.  Then we prune back overly long limbs and side branches so the fruit won't touch the ground, and prune out or prune back one-year-old branches that are growing straight up.  On apple trees, these one-year-old branches are vegetative: they don't have fruit buds yet, as fruit buds are mostly born on spurs arising from older branches.
Bill (in back) uses the chain saw to cut off  big limbs, while our workers Brandon Ledford and Daniel Rennie cut back long one-year-old branches with pneumatic pruning loppers powered by an air compressor on the tractor. 
   We just invested in a couple of pneumatic pruning loppers to speed the process of cutting back so many one-year-old branches.  Our workers Brandon Ledford and Daniel Rennie got to try out these pruners this past Sat.  They allow us to avoid dragging ladders around to prune the trees.
This older tree has many long one-year-old branches that need pruning.
   We still have many 'Enterprise' & 'GoldRush' apples for sale, protected from freezes and kept in top condition in our sales building.  If you want to buy some, call 620-597-2450 and leave a message on the phone answering machine saying when you'll be coming.  Thanks.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Many Apples Still for Sale

   We still have many 'Enterprise' & 'GoldRush' apples for sale, protected from freezes and kept in top condition in our sales building.  I give taste samples; each apple has its own unique flavor.  They're both wonderful for cooking & baking as well as fresh eating. 'Enterprise' apples keep well for 6 months in the fridge, and 'GoldRush' apples keep well for 8 months in the fridge.

Many #1 'Enterprise' red apples & 'GoldRush' yellow apples are ready for sale in our sales building.
        Small amounts of harvested #1 apples still cost $1.16 per pound + tax, and 2nds apples cost $0.79 per pound + tax.  20 lbs. of harvested #1 apples cost $22.26 + $1.74 tax = $24.00 total (saves $1.00), and 20 lbs. of harvested #2 apples now cost $14.84 + $1.16 tax = $16.00 total (saves $1.00).  40 lbs. or more of harvested apples (#1's and/or #2's) get a further $1.00 off each 20-lb. box.  40 lbs. of harvested #2 apples, great for making pies, breads, applesauce, apple butter, etc., now cost just $27.83 + tax, instead of $29.68 + tax.  We just lowered the quantity price on #2's since most customers and schools have been buying #1's, and we need to sell more #2's so we can use the cooler space for #1's.
These #2 'Enterprise' & 'GoldRush' apples are great for making salads, sliced apples, pies, breads, applesauce, apple butter, etc. 40 lbs. harvested #2 apples (2 boxes) now cost just $27.83 + tax.
   We grow apple varieties immune to apple scab disease and practice biorational pest control, so our apples need half the sprays that grocery-store apples get.  Biorational pest control uses only materials that are extremely safe for people & the environment, and limits sprays to the least amount needed.  We do not apply any wax or post-harvest fungicides to our apples, as is done on grocery-store apples.
    Studies have shown that locally-produced fruits have up to 6 times the levels of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants as do fruits grown in the arid western U.S. and shipped halfway across the country.  Utilizing locally-produced fruit also saves fossil fuel energy, and they taste MUCH better!
   From Dec. 1 to May 31, we're open by appointment, so please phone a day or two before coming, and leave a message on the phone answering machine saying what day & about what time you'll be coming, so I can look for you.  If you haven't phoned ahead and are in the vicinity, you can drop by; I'll probably be working on the fruit plantings or sorting apples in the sales building most days, unless it's super cold or I'm delivering apples to schools.
   Last Wed. and Fri. while it was warm, I propagated more 'Triple Crown' thornless blackberries.  Our 'Triple Crown' planting had sections of another thornless blackberry variety, 'Navaho', mixed in.  'Navaho' was the first upright thornless blackberry variety released and tastes good, but the fruit are smaller, and many customers complained about that.  So last year we killed the 'Navaho' plants, and started replacing them with 'Triple Crown'.  Last week I carefully dug up the tip layers of 'Triple Crown', where the long side branches arch to the ground and send out roots, and transplanted them to the spots between the stubs of the removed 'Navaho' plants.
   During extreme cold spells I do computer work in the house, such as sending e-mails and filing taxes.  I just sent payments for 4th quarter sales tax and our workers' Social Security & Medicare taxes.  This Sat. it should be warm enough for our workers to start pruning apple trees.