Bear Swamp Orchard & Cidery


Certified Organic Hard Ciders and Apples

thinning

As we started thinning apples, we realized that plum curculio were still active so we had to spray clay once more at the end of June. We have never had to spray clay after the 15th of June, but it has been so rainy and cool I guess the little buggers have been delayed. Thinning with fresh clay on the trees is difficult and unpleasant, as the clay makes the apples hard to see, and of course it rubs off on you as you move through the tree. So, we have taken a short break from thinning. It rained a bit last night, so I will start thinning once again over the next few days. The crop on the Freedoms is certainly thin, but the Libertys look ok (not much hand thinning to do though Happy, and the Northern Spys look great. Interestingly, the scab-immune varieties seem more attractive to plum curculio - some of the Freedoms and Libertys are really covered with PC-scars and need to be thinned off, but the older varieties - Northern Spys, Golden Delicious - have much less PC damage. I guess there is always a tradeoff; if an apple was immune to scab and unattractive to all insect pests, it would probably taste terrible and have no nutrients.
Soon we will be hanging traps to monitor apple maggot flies. This is mostly to give us an idea of the pressure in the orchard, since we don’t have any way to deal with AMF at this point in the season. We can only hope our orchard sanitation last year was good enough that we don’t have to deal with this pest. Still, it’s satisfying to see those little flies stuck to the traps - each one is one fewer to damage the apples.
Our little ram lamb Gimble is growing incredibly fast. He is fat, fat, fat, despite not having started eating anything yet. His little horns are growing, and we have had to work on keeping him from butting us - not a good habit for him to develop. We are making every effort to keep him tame, unlike the rest of our sheep, so he enjoys lots of petting and getting picked up. We will try him on a halter soon, he is almost big enough for one to stay on I think. I have never seen a Shetland sheep who is well halter trained, even the ones people show tend to lay on their backs when they are led on a halter. Worth a try though.
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