Category: Orcharding

Spring Orchard Work and then Ice Cream

Delton Curtis grafting at the Seed Swap and Scion Exchange. English photo By John Bunker Springtime in central Maine was designed for orchard activity. The long days and the warming sun lure me out the door like the Pied Piper’s flute. Get up early and cook up a saucepan of apples from the last bushel

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Mixed Orchard Crops

Jesse Stevens of Sy’s Trees in Sweden, Maine, grows a “hyper-diversified” orchard of more than 1,000 varieties of woody plants. Photo courtesy of Jesse Stevens Honeyberry, Lonicera coerulea, is an underutilized species that Stevens believes is well suited to organic culture in Maine. Photo by Opioła Jerzy, from Wikimedia. By Jean English Farmers from Sy’s

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Biological Control of Fire Blight Bacteria

Early symptoms of fire blight in a Liberty apple tree. The branch is just starting to make the shepherd’s crook and blacken. Photo by C.J. Walke By C.J. Walke Managing disease is often a challenging task in organic farming and gardening because pathogens can be very aggressive, additional hosts often exist outside farm boundaries, and most materials

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What Apple Is This Identifying Apples in 2020

Illustration by John Bunker By John Bunker “A further knowledge of the facts is necessary before I would venture to give a final and definite opinion.” Sherlock Holmes, “His Last Bow” Although we usually begin to identify apples each year in August and early September, the Common Ground Country Fair weekend is the official kickoff

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Rapid Apple Decline

An apple tree showing signs of stress – possibly Rapid Apple Decline. English photo By C.J. Walke In March of this year, numerous reports of apple tree die-off populated the news with titles such as “Across America, Apple Trees are Dying, and Scientists Don’t Know Why” and “Something is Killing Our Apple Trees, and No One Knows

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Spotted Lanternfly

Spotted lanternfly, screenshot of photo by Henripekka Kallio from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Perho.jpg, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license Tree-of-heaven, seed-bearing female plant, photo by Luis Fernández García from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=139593, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.1 Spain license. By C.J. Walke As winter rolls into spring, work in the orchard transitions from pruning and

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Passing the Baton

Whip and tongue graft. Illustration by John Bunker Bark graft. Illustration by John Bunker Delton Curtis grafting at the Seed Swap and Scion Exchange. English photo By John Bunker Not everyone knows that when you start an apple tree from a seed, it will never come true to type. If you plant a ‘McIntosh’ seed and wait about

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Who’s Stealing My Fruit

By C.J. Walke This season was the first in my 10 years of working with fruit tree growers that I heard numerous reports of apples and peaches vanishing from trees in just a few days or even overnight. In early August, emails starting popping up in my inbox with subject lines reading “Vanishing apples” and

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Fall Reminders

By C.J. Walke It is now almost fall in the orchard and time to think about harvest, cleanup (orchard sanitation) and preparations for winter. Managing fungal diseases can challenge organic tree fruit growers all season, but we can decrease overwintering fungal pressures by putting in a little effort now. Apple scab overwinters on infected leaf

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Orchard Materials

Thinking of using grafting wax or compounds on organic fruit trees? Know the NOP rules and, if in doubt, check with your certifier first. English photo By C.J. Walke Over the winter I have been talking with MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) about materials used in organic orchards and fruit tree propagation. As more farmers and

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