Farm Focus: Fall Pruning

The fury of the harvest season is over but things have not
slowed down with field work in the orchard. Fall is the time
when we start preparing the trees for the next two year’s
growth and harvest. For the 2018 harvest we work to ensure
the fruit buds will be energized in the spring to blossom well
and set a good crop. Looking ahead to 2019, we want to
encourage more vigor and growth of the trees for a bountiful
harvest.
To encourage robust growth and a solid blossom set, our field
crew has begun pruning our pear trees, the first trees of the
fall to be thinned out. The crew cuts out branches to open up
the center of the trees so that the fruit buds and the leaves
surrounding them will receive maximum sunlight. The leaf
growth surrounding the fruit buds will manufacture the sugars
for next year’s harvest. Once the pears are all pruned, we will
move onto the apricots and then begin peach trees in January.
While one crew is pruning, another is going through every
block in the orchard clearing out broken branches and cutting
out suckers from the base of the trees. The suckers rob
energy from the fruit buds and branches. Just about every
tree produces suckers so you can imagine that removing all of
them is a long process with over 30,000 trees in our orchard.
The understory of the orchard is being weed wacked to lay
a thick bed of green mulch at the base of the trees. Once a
block of trees has been pruned, the wood is collected and
chipped to provide carbon for our compost which will, in turn,
be used to regenerate the soil this winter.
Fall is a beautiful time on the farm. It’s a time when we are
poised between harvest cycles and feel connected to the
circular nature of them. We give thanks for the harvest we’ve
just enjoyed and prepare the orchard for those to come.

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