Winter at Prospect Hill Orchard

Orchard Pruning_Resized.jpgThe winter months at the orchard are busy ones.  We began pruning our roughly 3000 apples trees in the first week of January and will continue through the end of March.  It can be a daunting task but is a very satisfying one.  There is something gratifying about approaching a tree that has grown vigorously throughout the last season and carefully shaping and cutting the branches with the thought of the good fruit that is to come from your efforts.

Annual pruning is one of the most important cultural practices in apple growing for many reasons.   Probably the most obvious reason is to reduce tree size for its allotted space in the orchard. It is important to keep the aisles open for orchard equipment and easier harvesting.  We remove any large limbs first with a chainsaw.  Pruning is also used to form a strong framework that will support a heavy fruit load.  Broken, dead or diseased branches should always be removed, but the most important reason for pruning is thinning the branches so light penetrates throughout the tree.  Sunlight helps produce high quality fruit and the buds the fruit are grown from.

We have been very fortunate to have a few dedicated volunteers helping us prune.  These folks range from people who have a small orchard on their property to apples enthusiast and those who just enjoy working outdoors and wanted to learn a new skill.   If you are interested in helping us prune, we will be hosting an open volunteer day on Saturday, February  25th from 9am-12.  No experience is necessary but you will need to bring your own saw and loppers.  Click here for more information!

Read the rest of the February Sprout!

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