Puppies and Apple Trees

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New puppy Maizy, a 7 week old golden retriever!


We got a new puppy last weekend. It’s been 9 months since we last had a dog, and it was time. But it’s been a long time since we had a new puppy and we forgot how much work it is. Lots of “NO”s and training and encouraging when things go well. Kind of like raising children I guess. But we have done this before, and over time the puppy becomes a well behaved dog (knock on wood).

Growing apple trees isn’t all that different. When we plant a new tree, we know what we want it to look like when it is mature. But a tree doesn’t just grow that way naturally. The first years are critical in developing the final producing tree. We do a lot of tying and trimming and training the branches to shape the tree for strength and maximum production. And we repeat the process over and over as each tree must be treated individually.

During the winter we prune our bearing orchards to prepare for the coming year’s crop. But newly planted trees also get our attention throughout the spring and summer for the first 3-4 years as they “grow up”. Here is a short clip of Travis working on a block of trees that we planted last spring. He is trimming each tree by hand (over 4000 in this planting). By cutting the branches back now, we can force the tree to grow taller early on. Our goal is to have the tree to the top wire at 9 feet by the end of the second summer.  Then the third summer we hope to leave some fruit on for harvest. Time consuming, yes, but the training now will result in a beautiful orchard in a few years.

So whether it’s puppies or young apple trees, they both benefit from patient training to become what we want them to be. The difference is, puppies can love you back!

Hoping you have a fruitful week!

Tom Moelker





Spring is in the air!

IMG_2053Welcome to the new Moelker Orchards blog! Each week throughout the year we hope to interest you with thoughts, insights and news from the farm. We hope you will enjoy and share it! Feel free to comment or ask questions.

According to the calendar, spring is here! Looking outside I might beg to differ! While most folks can’t wait for warmer weather to show up, we in the fruit growing business actually like a cool late spring. A later spring means slower growth of our apple blossoms, and delays bloom until the chances of a killing frost are minimal. Remember 2012? It was in the 80’s in March and everything sprouted and bloomed a month earlier than normal. Remember no apple crop that year? We sure do. Fortunately, this year does not look like a repeat of that.

Here on the farm we are finishing up our apple tree pruning and getting the orchards cleaned up for the upcoming growing season (spring cleaning?). We are removing some older trees and will work this summer to build the soil up to prepare for next year’s planting. When I look at my winter “to do” list I’m always surprised at how many items didn’t get checked off! Where did the time go? Now it’s rush rush rush to get things repaired (how did I forget THAT!?)  But ready or not we will soon be in full swing!

So while you golfers are cleaning up your clubs (again!) and you moms wish you could put away the winter coats and boots, just remember—spring will get here. When it does, we will forget all the waiting and enjoy it! And then we will wish it was summer…..

Hoping you have a fruitful day!

Tom Moelker