So a week ago Friday, I was a student in the NCRS Pruning School, taught by Research Horticulturist Jacob Emling. Over the years I had watched the Horticulture staff do this, but had never been involved myself. But maybe it's time. I learned right away that pruning is kind of complicated. Plus there is lot's of counting as in the grapes here. You only want so many future fruiting buds per vine. So you are not just pruning to make them look nicer, you are preparing for next year's production.
Below we see students Renee, Jay and Tim B paying attention to Instructor Jake. Tim has done this for years and is at the head of the class. I hope that Spartan Renee and Wolverine Tim don't let tensions flare while handling sharp instruments.
Next it was on to the apple orchard. Again, you don't just start snipping. You want to build the future growth by controlling direction of limbs, and removing ones that are growing out into the middles. Now that some of the trees are taller than the top wire, we learned that it will be necessary to bend them around towards the ground. You don't really want to cut them off as that stimulates more high branching. I think.
Everyone took a turn under the teacher's watch. So why are we having school and training of the NCRS staff on such a cold day? Well it seems that this was Jake's last day. He has gotten a research grant at MSU that will enable him to work on his Ph.D. He will use what he started here as the research will focus on the Solid Set Canopy Delivery systems for pesticide application in orchards. But he leaves on good terms and will stop by from time to time and be available for questions about pruning and other stuff.
It seems like he just got here. Well he did. Here he is on August 19, 2014 talking about the orchard at the Research Field Days. He had just recently started and was talking about the small trees in the background that have just this year gotten quite tall and come into good production.