Spring in the orchard is a stressful time of year, there are many jobs to do, things to fix, and not a lot of time to get it all done. One of the biggest jobs is planting, which has just finished for the year, so I thought I would share my experience with you. I’ll briefly explain how we choose new trees, and why I just spent the last two weeks working up soil, building irrigation, and digging holes!
Our young trees start in two parts. The top half of the tree is a clipping of the adult we want to make more of; we then graft that clipping, or scion, onto a small root that has the growing characteristics we are looking for. We consider things like tree size and vigor, and how many apples it produces versus how “leafy” it tends to grow. We do this a year in advance, and plant these grafted trees in a nursery so they can grow in a controlled environment.
In spring, we dig up the young nursery trees while the ground is still cold, so the trees are still dormant from the winter, then we put them in a refrigerated room for two months. This gives the ground a chance to warm up while the trees themselves remain dormant. When the soil is warm, we work compost, manure, and peat into it to prevent disease carryover from the apple trees that were previously growing there. The final step is hand planting every single apple tree! My cousin, father, and myself planted all five thousand trees this year, which took us about a week of hard shoveling and raking.
Now that planting is finished, we can focus on harvesting our cherry orchards; there’s always work to be done on the farm! Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try my best to answer them. Keep following the Arctic® apple blog to find out why we replant part of our orchard every year.