Sunday, June 6, 2021

Orchard Update


Orchard in bloom. Photo courtesy Jay Styles.
Spring will soon be turning into Summer, and that means it’s time for an orchard update. The blossom season was spectacular this year. Our lone apricot tree was first to bloom, followed in quick succession by the plums, then pears, and finally the apples. Weather for the pear bloom was perfect, and now the trees are overloaded with young fruit. The week the apples were in peak bloom was rainy, and I was concerned the bees could not fly and pollinate the crop. 

Honeybee. Photo Jay Styles.

While a few of the apple trees are taking the year off to rest, the majority are doing fine, and there should be an abundant crop in the Fall.

Open house.

We scheduled an orchard open house and tour during the peak blossom time, and I believe everyone enjoyed hearing stories about the history of the orchard property and some of the characters who lived there in the past. We then took a walk through the orchard and talked about our future plans for enhancing it’s value as a resource for the Alberton community and beyond. The day after the open house, the Alberton graduating high school class came to have lunch at the orchard. It was a fun time, and something we hope to make an annual event.

Senior luncheon.
I’ve finally completed an inventory of all the fruit trees on our property. Most of the trees are in the orchard proper, but we have a few trees that exist outside the orchard, including three apples and one crabapple that are “wild” or volunteer trees that started on their own, probably due to animals spreading the seeds. In all, we have 76 fruit trees. The majority of the trees were planted in about 1982. There are trees that were planted later than that, and some trees that were planted just this year. Here is how they break out by type.

Apples – 52

Pears – 11

Plums – 7

Crabapples – 4

Apricots – 1

Sweet cherries – 1

A clear goal is to plant more apricots and cherries! We’re often asked what varieties of apples we have, and the answer is, mostly we don’t know. That’s because records were not kept when the orchard was planted back in the 1980s. We can identify a few of the apples, pears, and plums, and of course we know the new ones we’ve recently planted. We hope to consult with fruit experts to identify some of the others.

Apple to crabapple graft.
Operating an orchard is a lot of work, and there is quite a bit of technical knowledge involved. One technique that can be quite useful is grafting. Grafting basically involves taking a twig, or scion, from one tree, and making it grow onto the stem or branch of another tree, called the rootstock. Anytime you buy a fruit tree at a store or nursery, you can be sure it has been grafted. This allows combining the best fruit growing limbs from one tree with the hardiest and most disease resistant roots from another tree. My first attempt at grafting in 2020 

Plum to plum graft.
was a complete failure. So, I studied harder and figured out some things to do differently this year. I’m happy to say that of four attempts to graft regular apples onto crabapple trees with the whip and tongue method, all four have succeeded. Of eight attempts to graft plum scions onto different plum trees using the bark grafting method, five have succeeded and I haven’t given up on the other three quite yet. Learning new things and trying neat stuff like grafting is one of the joys of working in an orchard.

If you’d like to learn more about fruit trees, or just get out for some exercise in the fresh air, we’re always looking for volunteers at Brovold Orchard. Stop by sometime and we can talk about how you can get involved.


Popular Blog Posts