Saturday, 26 December 2009

On The Orchard Part Two - Apple Thinning

Most varieties of apples must be thinned when the fruitlets are still small, otherwise the apples will remain small, red apples won't colour well, and crowded apples will rub against each other and leave unsightly marks. Also leaving too many apples can cause branches to snap. Bunches are usually thinned from bunches of four or five down to singles or doubles, mainly depending on the crop load, but sometimes also depending on market fruit size requirements. The thinned apples are left on the ground to rot, as they are of no value. It seems like such a waste seeing so many apples on the ground, but it is neccesary in order to produce a crop of good sized, good quality apples.

Friday, 11 December 2009

On The Orchard Part One - Frost Fans

During early spring the trees blossom. It's quite a beautiful thing to see on an orchard, pink and white flowers everywhere. The problem is that this occurs quite early in the spring, or late winter. If, while a tree is in blossom, or in the early fruit setting stage, there is a frost, then the fruit crop can be damaged or completely destroyed. A frost event can only occur if the air is perfectly still, so one solution is the use of frost fans. When the temperature falls to a certain point, the fans are automatically started, and driven by large diesel engines, circulate air around the orchard, preventing frosty icecles from forming and damaging the tender flowers and fruitlets. When they are running, they are like helicopters that never land.....

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Back On The Farm

I've been back on the orchard in Shepparton for a couple of weeks. With harvest of the pear crop not due to begin until late january, I've been doing other things, including counting fruitlets for crop estimates, and thinning apples. The pear crop this year is a little light, while the peach, apricot and apple trees are absolutely loaded with fruit. I'm staying in my usual accomodation on farm, and as is usual for this time of year, the pickers quarters are all vacant. With the new contract labour hire arrangements they may remain so this season.