Friday, October 30, 2015

Why cull? (revisited) 2015

Now that the apple harvest is complete, we can revisit what worked, what didn't, where we were successful, where we could have done better.  With a little less than 100 trees, we have the 'luxury' of examining each tree and identify its strengths and weaknesses.  Some trees produced a lot of large healthy fruit.  Some trees were not as prolific.  Some trees, although culled heavily in Spring, should have had a second culling later in the Summer.  How can we tell?  Why cull at all?
Culling or removing smaller fruitlets at an early stage of development, allows the tree to focus it energy on developing fewer, yet stronger, healthier fruits.  Having too many fruits can also cause stress on a tree which can make it more prone to sickness, difficulty in surviving the winter cold, or even prevent it from fruiting the following year.  How many times have we heard people say: 'My tree produced 100s of apples last year, but this year we were lucky to get a handful!'
As an experiment, last Spring we left a few fruit clusters to develop as they would normally, then compared the results to branches that had been gleaned.   In the above photo you can clearly see the results: the unculled fruit clusters were significantly smaller and frequently misshapen.  The taste was fine however unattractive in appearance.
Some people are put off by fruits that don't look like something out of a picture book.  There are also those folks that will only eat one variety of apple.  Those conversations usually begin with, 'we only eat...'  This is very unfortunate for all of them because they miss out on all the variety and flavors available. 
To broaden your experience, next time you're at the market try this: purchase one of each of a variety of different apples: Jonathan, Empire, Granny Smith, and Fuji is a good selection to start with.  Also select a mild cheese such as Monterey Jack or mozzarella to nibble on between tastes of each slice of apple.  Remember: the purpose is to taste and think about the flavors.  A sweet apple may be good to eat out of the hand, but a slightly tart apple may be better in salads.  There are hundreds of varieties with only a handful available at your local market.  Once you've tasted the first four, select a new grouping and repeat the taste test.  Try not to do more than four, otherwise your taste buds may get a little overwhelmed.  Who knows?  You may discover some new favorites!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Apple Harvest, next round

You want to taste something amazing?  This morning we harvested our Jonagold apples.  The Jonagold is a cross between the Golden Delicious and the Jonathan apples.  This red apple has the crisp, sweet yet slightly tart flavor that is terrific to eat out of the hand or for caramel apples

For those that like the Honey Crisp but don't like the sky high prices that are usually associated with this specialty apple, the Jonagold may be just the right apple for you!  Try some today!  You may discover a new favorite.