Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tree Time

 If you're looking for Research Horticulturalist Jacob these days, head out to the orchard.  There are over a thousand trees in the high density orchard  that need pruning before spring growth begins.  It is not a job for amateurs as the cuts need to be done correctly to get proper growth.  

He is first taking care of the crabapples that are the pollinators.  The crabapples also serve as markers of the plots with ten apple trees in between that receive the different nutrient applications of the research plots.  First he cuts the larger lower branches.  Any branch that is over 50% of the diameter of the trunk gets snipped.  But it is a Dutch cut, that is at an angle preserving the bud at the base that will grow into a new branch.  You just want to keep the main stem as the main stem and not get big limbs taking over.  Next he makes header cuts that trim back the upper branches.  Notice his pruning equipment.  Imagine pruning branches on over a thousand trees, well your hand would get pretty tired.  But these are electronic that mechanically make the cut.  A nice tool to have indeed.  If I were doing it, I'd be afraid of daydreaming and get a new nickname of "Lefty" or maybe "Stumpy".  Better leave this to the expert. 
Here is the finished tree.  He will then move on to the Gala and Honeycrisp apples that make up the orchard plus the extra varieties that are in the border rows for some variation.
We are accepting donations for a second bionic pruner.  I mean the other hand is just along for the ride.  May as well put them both to work.  There is a lot to do.