A year in the orchard

It has been a cold January; the coldest in decades.  I have been waking up each morning to check the temperature sensors scattered throughout the different blocks of my orchard, hoping that it would be warm enough to work.  Every day lost to the frigid weather is a Saturday or Sunday I’ll be working in March or April as I race to finish my winter pruning.

The cold weather broke last Sunday, and now we are enjoying some warm, wet weather coming up from the south.  This means we are pruning, speculating on time lines, and scheduling for the rest of the work we need to get done this winter.

I spent a couple weeks this November travelling, and when chatting with some of my non-farming friends, I would often hear how nice it must be that I get the winter off.  When I explained to them that in fact we were busy working all winter, they were surprised.  So, I thought I would take this opportunity to share an infographic to show you what we do throughout each year.

Of course, we have a multitude of smaller tasks we are also doing throughout this time, such as building trellises, pounding posts, spraying, mowing, stringing wire, training trees, fixing equipment, and probably the biggest job other than harvest – fixing irrigation.  I didn’t mention a single “job” for May, but that is possibly the busiest month of the year apart from harvest, simply because we are catching up and working on all the countless jobs we haven’t yet finished!  We are still busy planting, have trellises to repair, and sometimes we are even trying to finish our winter pruning!

So while it can be less stressful during the winter, I am certainly not taking the winters off! I also use this downtime to go to conferences and educational workshops to try and improve my horticultural skills, because to stay on top of farming, it’s always necessary to learn, too. Next time you take a bite of an apple, or snack on cherries, remember that a farmer cared all year for the tree it grew on to bring you the fruit you’re enjoying.

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About Joel Carter

Joel, son of founders Neal and Louisa, has seen Arctic apples evolve from an idea to a delicious fruit, and even helped plant the first orchard! Joel’s lifelong experience in the orchard and with Arctic apples makes him the perfect fit to head up field operations.