Jun/16/2014 09:16 AM Filed in: orchard
Hand thinning is one of the aspects of organic orcharding that is undoubtedly more work than conventional systems, where something is sprayed on the trees that causes them to drop some, but not all of their fruit. For us, hand thinning is part of our pest management, since we remove pest-damaged apples and put them in buckets, where they sit until the pests crawl out and die, unable to find soil to pupate in. It forces us to give each tree an up-close inspection, so we assess disease damage, insect pressure, and fruit set. Given the time this takes, we only do this for the pick-your-own varieties. So far the fruit load seems to be about the same as last year, except for our biennial trees (especially Golden Delicious) which were having their off year last year, and are weighted down with fruit this year. We have begun mowing our new/old orchard, so some of the trees there will be accessible for picking this fall (we will be picking there, that is - these are giant standard trees, not suitable for U-pick).