Broad Valley Orchard

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A Tough time in the Orchards and Fields

Hello All,

Whew, what a year!  After a fairly cold and early start to winter, we were treated to three months of Spring floods.  Then the heat and humidity and hail came with a vengance, hosting a plethora of fruit tree diseases such as Cedar Apple Rust, Fire Blight, Powdery Mildew, and of course some Apple Scab.  All the old-time pests, the “Usual Suspects”  like aphids, Plum Curculios, and Codling Moths were out in force.  But then the “Yellow Peril” invaders, the Oriental Fruit Moth, and the Chinese Stink Bug (of whom we seem to be spared from – for the moment)

So, I’m beat!  I top-pruned the orchard to let in light and air, and I used some lime sulfur (which I don’t like to do in the summer = it roughens the skins of the fruit, and kills y valuable predatory insects).  So, it looks like we will have a greatly reduced tree fruit crop.  But on my walks with Jago our farm dog, along the roads through the big chemical orchards (who are spraying several days per week) I have noticed that their fairly light crop seems rather marked up, too.  Some orchards seem to be spraying up to four times a week.

At least we are having quite a nice berry crop.  The strawberries were OK, the cherries and peaches were a bit light, the black and red raspberries lived up to my expectations, and the blue berry crop is nice (we have started irrigating it), and we had a wonderful black currant harvest, and our first test-planting of  gooseberries is pleasing the heck out of us.  If it wasn’t for those nasty spines, I’d plant lots more.

Oh, I learned to trellis these ribe bushes  in a supporting structure of metal corner posts, connected by stainess steel wire.  This keeps the low hanging branches from drooping to the ground, and lets me spread them out for picking.  I found a severe early season top and bottom pruning brought in a lots more sun and air, and most of the bottom branch crop was not thriving anyway.  I look forward to trying my first batch of gooseberry wine = black currant wine is already among my favorites.

Thom Marti

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