I’ll bet you thought spring would never come! This past weekend was just what everyone was waiting for! It is amazing what a few days with plentiful sunshine and temps in the low 80’s can do for everyone’s morale. Suddenly everything is motorcycles, lawn mowers and all things summer. I even saw more than a few Sea-Doo’s and boats go by on trailers! It seems everyone is happy to be outside! Over this past weekend’s warm spell our tree’s growth really exploded. It’s amazing to watch them put on 2-3 days normal growth in a single day.
Spring is a time for renewal. Time to freshen things up. Clean things up. Out with the old and in with the new. That rule applies here at the orchard too. We are finishing up on removing some older trees and planting new trees to replace them. I’m often asked “Why are you cutting those trees down? Aren’t they still growing apples?” The answer is “Yes, but we want to grow better apples!” Times change and so do people’s tastes in fruit. When the demand for an older variety lessens, it only makes sense to change our plantings around a bit. We will still grow those old favorites, just not as many of them as we used too. We need to make room for new favorites too! Planting systems change as well. Where we used to plant 120 trees per acre, we now are putting 1200 (more on that in a future blog)! So every year we remove a percentage of our older plantings and renew them with fresher ones.
Sometimes our renewals don’t go as planned. A few years ago we removed an older peach orchard and after giving the soil a year off to rebuild, we planted a fresh new orchard of Red Haven peach trees. In a couple of years the planting looked great! A beautiful young orchard just ready to bear fruit! But the first year we harvested a few peaches from the trees we became a bit suspicious. They just didn’t have the Red Haven flavor and texture and the pit would NOT come away from the peachy flesh! “Maybe it’s because they are so young yet and not settled into bearing,” we thought. “Maybe they will be better next year.” But the next season what we feared became obvious. These were not Red Haven trees. They weren’t even a very good peach. There had been a mix-up at the nursery that sold us the trees. So sadly we had to start over from scratch. This spring we removed all of those original trees and replanted. The nursery will replace the trees free-of-charge, but the time and opportunity loss will upset our plans. Dad used to say, “Better to have trouble in the barn than in the house.” And he was right. This isn’t a disaster, just a hiccup in our best laid plans!
So for a few years here our peach harvest won’t be quite what we had planned. But hopefully in a few more years we will have a new crop of “real” Red Haven peaches that will make your mouth water! And we will be planning more renewals….
Hope you have a fruitful week!