It's Apricot Orchard Pruning Time!
It's pruning time! While the Blenheim apricot harvest season may be short, it takes preparation all year long to yield a bountiful orchard. Four generations of apricot farming have taught us when and how to prune to best care for the orchard and maximize delicious fruit growth. During an early morning pruning session, Jim and Brian shared the ins and outs of how we prune here at B & R Farms.
Why We're Pruning Now (September)
Traditionally, orchard pruning takes place when the trees have lost their leaves in October or November. Without leaves, the job is easier, but the wet weather leaves the trees susceptible to disease. So instead, we prune in late August to help protect the health of the orchard. When you remove a branch, the tree naturally heals by shooting sap and sealing the cut. By pruning in late summer, we're allowing at least six weeks for the wound to heal before the wet weather sets in. Healthier trees, ensure healthier apricots, and healthier, delicious apricots are what we're all about!
Our Pruning Methods: Open Vase System vs. Hex V
Most orchards at B & R Farms have been pruned according to the Vase System (also known as the Open Center method), pictured above. This pruning method leaves the inner center of a tree open, so that air and sunlight circulate throughout the tree. This year, in our newest orchards, we're trying something new: The Hex V method! The Hex V method is often utilized on peach trees, and as the name implies, it involves pruning and tying the tree limbs into the shape of a "v." This method promotes fruit growth on the outside of the tree only, maximizing sunlight for larger, sweeter fruit and making for an easier harvest. It also has the added benefit of allowing for more trees per acre, meaning we can bring you even more apricot goodness each harvest.
Pruning Pro Tip: How To Protect Against Frost
Another best practice here at B & R farms is to leave more wood on the tree than you might typically find in other orchards. We've experienced that this helps to protect the crop from frost, ensuring our apricots make it through the cold mornings and nights.
Whether you have acres of orchards or a single fruit tree in your backyard, we wish you happy pruning!