Broad Valley Orchard

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Ah, Autumn Is In The Air

Hello All,
Wow, it has been a long time since i have been able to sit down to write to you. Sorry, but I have this terminal condition, called “Farming”.
This affliction has just taken the last four wet, and then muggy, months of my life, and turned it into the past.
But, now we are getting lovely clear and cool nights, and the fall harvests prospects are improving. I stopped at my “Cashtown Cider Orchard”, and even though the small apple crop did not look good, I got 6 bushels of Asian Pears from one tree.
If you aren’t familiar with this novel fruit: it only started coming in to US orchards in the 1950’s. Back then it was called the “apple pear”. This bronze-skinned fruit is indeed shaped like an apple, but with a lovely crisp “different” pear taste. They store quite well, and are so sweet that they make a dry fruit that is sooo sweet! Friends tell us that their children prefer these dainties over candy. It is also resistant to most pome diseases and insects.
The fall apple crop is coming along. It was not as severely damaged by the county-wide “soft hail” that was part of this spring’s monsoon rains. That hail really messed up my summer Ginger Gold and fall Jonagold crops. Fifteen years ago we were getting nice harvests on our Ginger Gold (plus Empire, Granny Smith, Cameo, and even Gala) trees. Unfortunately, since climate-change is really heating up our area, I have given up trying to grow these varieties. But, they did make perfectly good firewood!
I got the orchard mowed yestre and am ready to pick Jonathan apples. We also got a surprise with this relatively ‘disease resistant’ variety that has been a strong annual producer. With the help of Penn State’s organic fruit specialist, we identified cedar-apple rust on the leaves of them and on our Gold Rush trees. I was able to stop this infwestation with a lime-sulfur spray one cool and rainy July evening. Use extreme care, though with this spray in summer – if sprayed on leaves on a hot and sunny day, it will defoliate the tree. Also, the co-host of this weird disease is cedar and juniper trees. Don’t plant them within a 1/4 mile (1/8 KM) of your orchard. Unfortunately many of the new suburban homes in the apple belt are being landscaped with cedars.
But, even though the apple crop is lighter than usual, we have had our very best berry season ever, and the North Star cherries, and the pears have been quite nice. If you are thinking about growing fruit, I urge you do “diversify, diversify, diversify”.
I’ll try to get back to this keyboard in a more timely manner.
thom marti

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