Bear Swamp Orchard & Cidery

Certified Organic Hard Ciders and Apples

Already harvest season!

After a busy summer, the apple crop looks good. Growing conditions could not have been more different from last year, with plenty of rain and overall cool temperatures. Following last year's difficult season we were apprehensive, but the apples have done well. We have small amounts of fruit to harvest now - peaches, early apple varieties - but the bulk of our crop, including the pick your own varieties, will not be ready until the third week in September.

This time of year, we get a lot of calls from people expecting that our orchard has apples to pick. There is no arguing with ripening schedules, though, and most fruit picked too early never develops the flavors they could have. This is why eating a fresh picked, ripe piece of fruit is a totally different experience than eating most fruit found in the grocery store, and is what we want people to experience when they get fruit here. Our Liberty apples should be good by the time we open for picking. Meanwhile, we have picked all the Red Astrachan and Williams Pride apples. Williams Pride will be available for sale in our farmstand until they are gone. They are intensely flavored, sweet and juicy, with a deep red skin that tints the flesh. They store so much sugar that they often get what is known as hollow core - very ripe apples look waterlogged in the middle because there is too much sugar to stay inside the cells. This sugar gets reabsorbed by the apple if stored for a little while. We often have to pick the Williams Pride when some of our wildlife - deer or bears - discover them. They will spend every night eating all the apples they can reach until they are gone, and the foxes eat anything that hits the ground. It's an apple everyone loves.

We have sold most of the Reliance and Red Haven peaches, and have just picked the next variety, Contender, that we will be sorting for sale this weekend. This is the first year we have a significant crop from this variety, so they will be fun to try out.

Long wait for blossom

Due to cool temperatures, blossoms have taken an unprecedented length of time opening. Some varieties, like Williams Pride, golden russet, and the lower elevation Libertys had about half their blossoms open, but most of the trees will be at peak blossom this week. Luckily, this will coincide with ideal weather for pollinators - dry and warmer than it has been so we predict good fruit set this year. Certainly the trees have huge numbers of blossoms! We may have to spend a fair amount of time thinning…

We had snow this morning, but fruit trees can handle that kind of cold even with their blossoms open. The ample rain this spring is a welcome relief after the dry season last year.

A new season begins...

As farmers, hope springs eternal (if it doesn't, time to do something else!). So far this spring all signs point to a good year. Fruit buds are plentiful and healthy looking, no frost advisories on the horizon, so we remain hopeful for a good crop this year. We bought a new airblast sprayer, which should do a much better job than the pak tank with hand-spraying wand without crippling the operator. We are looking forward to producing high quality apples with this tool. Thanks goes to the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, for helping us with this investment. They have truly made a difference to our viability as a business with their generosity.

Blossom season is just beginning, with one variety of plum blooming today. Soon the peaches will blossom, followed by waves of apples as each variety unfurls their petals. Steve got the new sprayer going just in time to spray sulfur on our scab-susceptible trees, and will follow with entomopathogenic nematodes to combat borers, apple maggot fly, and perhaps codling moth. These nematodes parasitize pest species larvae that are in the ground under the trees, or on/in the trunk, thereby reducing pest pressure for this and future seasons. May they live long and prosper, eating our pests!
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