Friday, August 1, 2014

Honeycrisp Trees are in the Ground!

Small Updates First:  

We will be having We-Pick/U-Pick Blueberries this Saturday, 9am-4pm but Saturday may be the last day.  Possibly next Thursday thru Saturday we may be open depending on how the fruit looks.  But after that we say good-bye to blueberries for another year.

But the good news is that U-Pick apples are right around the corner.  We keep checking our Gravensteins.  Still a bit too green but will keep checking and I will post on here when they are ready. 

Farm Happenings:

Skid steer with auger = good!  Shovel = No good!
I am so thankful for advances in technology.   Using the auger to dig the tree holes was great.  We even had a smaller one for the post holes.  Of course, I AM thankful for shovels too because they do fill the holes in.
Doug digging holes
Digging apple tree holes with an auger.

trees before planted
Grandpa supervising the planting.
We strung a line to keep the row straight, then started planting.

graphed
If you look closely, you can see the tree is grafted.  I think I talked about this in a previous post a bit but a little recap.  It is impossible to get Honeycrisp trees right now ordered in so we took some cuttings and grafted them onto  Golden Delicious trees.  Eventually we will cut the Golden Delicious tree off as the Honeycrisp graft takes off. (And actually ALL apple trees are grafted....the bottom rootstock decides how big the tree will grow, and the top graft decides what kind of fruit the tree will bear.)
completed apple orchard
And there they be!  All planted and ready to grow.
Next things to check off are to get some sprinkler heads attached to the underground irrigation and plant some grass rows.  Oh and of course continue putting the posts up (working on that now) and stringing some wire to help train the trees to grow straight.

And something just for fun.....
We are hoping this keeps the birds from stealing our blueberries.
All Birds Do not Go Beyond This FenceBurma Shave style  :)
Hope you are all are surviving the heat!  I'm sure some of you LOVE it!  And others, like me, are just trying to survive it :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Opening for U-Pick/We-Pick Blueberries Thurs, July 17th

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We want to open our blueberry field up for you to enjoy!

7 Acres loaded with berries.

Bluecrop variety is nice and sweet.  Our favorite variety to eat!

 

Open 9am - 4pm Thursday thru Saturdays.

Starting July 17th thru mid August.




 U-Pick     $1.20/ lb
We-Pick $ 2.00/lb
(To order email us at BeilkeFF@gmail.com, or call 503-393-1077 (leaving a message) one day ahead and we can have them ready for pick up the next day between Thursday and Saturdays..
 
 Directions:
You can find us just a few blocks east of our U-Pick apple location.
The address is 5371 Brooklake Rd, Downtown Brooks OR 97305.

From I-5, Take exit 263 (Brooks).  Turn to the East off the exit ramp.  Continue east through the only traffic light in Brooks.  After several houses, our field is on the left.  The field is hard to miss because it is covered with tall netting.  Turn in the driveway BEFORE the netting, not after.
If you get lost but are familiar with our U-Pick apple location, come there and we can help you.
 
Field rules:
For food safety reasons, all who enter MUST wash their hands.
No animals please.
We have containers to pick into, but bring your own to take the berries home.

plain blueberries





bb row

Can't wait to see you!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Blueberry season begins!

It's blueberry time around here.  My son is enjoying the abundance :)  He says, "Mmm these are good."

Our blueberries are packed into clam shells and shipped all over the West Coast and Japan.  We grow 3 different varieties that are early, mid and late season ripening so we are busy from late June to mid August.  Some fields we have to pick two times and some with 4 pickings because each variety ripens differently.  Between each picking, we have to wait about 13 days.  Some fields we pick by hand and some by machine.  Keeps us on our toes.  Our oldest field we planted in 1995 and our latest in 2012.



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blueberry plants


This could be a whole another post (which it might be!), but we take lots of efforts to deter the birds from eating our blueberries!  When you work all year keeping the berries maintained and growing healthy, and the birds take the berries right when they are ready to harvest, it is painful to watch!!!  One deterrent is putting net over 12 of our 35 acres of berries.  The picture below is of us putting a net over 12 acres of our blueberries.  The net stays up year round, except we unroll the different sections in the spring.  It usually takes 2 weeks to put it up and 1 week to take it down.

putting up net, cart
We have also finished up thinning our apples.
Doug apple thinning
Now we are working on putting in 3 new rows of Honeycrisp.  That includes getting the ground worked up and smooth, a soil test to see if the soil needs amended.  Plus rows spaced and staked, trenching for the irrigation pipe, ordering and installation of the underground irrigation, digging of post and tree holes, and finally planting of the trees! And even with all that, I am sure I am forgetting something!
The trenching machine for underground irrigation. Better than a shovel!
Noe apple irrigation
Gluing the PVC pipe
Next week we are hoping to start planting the apple trees depending on the weather and how busy we are with blueberries.
On another subject, it has been rainy around here.  We were checking on our wheat and plenty has laid down.  It will make it harder to harvest because the wheat header has a harder time cutting it when it is down, but we'll make it.

Erin wheat
Checking out the wheat stand.
Hose reel stuck Sometimes it feels like nothing can be easy around here :)  This is the hose reel that waters our corn and it got stuck pretty bad!  We got it out though with 3 chains end to end and a big tractor.  The picture below is the sprinkler on the end of the big coiled up black hose on the hose reel.
hose reel gun
Hose reel sprinkler cart
You hook the sprinkler to the back of a small tractor and pull it out how far you want it in the field.  Once it is all set up, you start the hose reel and it slowly pulls the sprinkler cart in depending on the amount of water you want to put on the field.
radish wheellineOther crops we are growing are, radish seed (white flowers) and dwarf chinese cabbage (yellow flowers).  After bloom then we let them dry up before they are harvested.
Well I am off to go pick up a truckload of blueberry crates.  Have a great rest of the day!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Time to Thin Apples

photo 5
This picture shows what it looks like to have too many apples in one spot.  We have to go through certain rows and knock some off by hand.  If we just left the apples to grow like this,  we'd have a lot of apples but way too small, and possibly the tree limbs would break from the weight of them all.

photo 4
For the size of this tree, it has too many apples too, even though the apples aren't clustered together as much as the picture above.  On some varieties, if you leave too many on the tree one year, like Honeycrisp, the next year there will be no apples, or at least very little.
We don't have to thin every variety every year.  We just play it by ear and see what each variety looks like.
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Codling moth trap in apples
We also are paying attention to our bug traps in the apples!  Thankfully we don't have to worry about too many different kinds of pests bothering our apples.  But the ones we really care about are the Codling Moths!  Codling moths  can lay eggs on the apple and soon there will have a worm eating away.   The little red "eraser" looking thing in the trap in the picture above, has a pheromone on it that attracts the codling moths to it.   (Phermone is a yummy smell to the moths...think "cookies in the oven" smell to us!) So if there are moths present, we will know and take care of them!

Well, besides apples, we have other crops demanding our attention.

In the next week or two, we will be harvesting our early ripening blueberries!  That is when things really getting hopping around here!  Our busiest time here on the farm is July and August.
Other random things:
A fun side project!  We had a water leak so we had to dig down to the mainline and see what was going on.  We couldn't water our corn until this was fixed.  But all is fixed now so one more project checked off.
photo 1(1)

photo 3
Corn peeking up.
photo 2(1)
Tall fescue grass seed.
We usually start harvest for our grass seed around the 4th of July.  Getting closer!  Yikes where does the time go!
Hope you are all enjoying it being almost summer time!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Winter Time

 Just a peak at our apple orchard in the winter.  
The picture below looks pretty lovely for winter time. 

 We just got done with pruning the trees a few days ago. It has turned into a bigger job the last few years because we prune it all by hand now.  For several years there, we had a machine with round spinning blades come in that buzzed the new growth off the top and lightly pruned the sides.  Then all we would have left was to prune the branches on the inside and fine tune the outside.  
It cost us about $5000 to prune last year!

Why do we need to prune our trees anyway?
Well, not everyone prunes like us.  Since our trees our u-pick, we like to keep the trees really short so you don't have to use ladders.  Every year we cut off the tops of the trees in the same spot.  Instead of growing the trees taller, we like the trees to grow out parallel towards each other...more like a trellis.  The goal is minimal wasted space between the trees eventually. 
 Another important step to reduce pruning is the tree you choose to plant to begin with.  Trees come with different roots (rootstock)....we like the rootstock that keep the trees smaller.  (Most apple trees are grafted so you can choose the rootstock size and the type of apple on top).
When you are out in our orchard this next summer, take a look at our Granny Smith tree rows compared to many of the other rows.  The Granny Smith rows have a bigger rootstock on the bottom so they are a much larger tree.  In fact, it is no fun driving a gator or tractor down those rows because you get smacked in the head with the branches too often!

There are several other reasons we prune too. 
The more branches we leave, the less light that will penetrate the tree's middle.  Less light, means apples won't turn their pretty color we all like to see.  Have you ever noticed when you pick certain apples, that one side is the pretty coloring we are use to and the other side is just plain green?  The green side didn't get the sunlight, and the other side did.
Also pruning in the winter helps create less work in the springtime.  The more branches we leave on, the more apples we have to thin (remove).  If we left all the apples that the trees produce, the apples would all be very small. (We do this when they are about thumb size) Each year we have to remove tons of apples, so the ones left on the tree have enough room and nutrients to grow!

And thirdly, pruning makes picking easier for you guys!


After we prune, then we rake the branches out into the grass row to mow them up....getting many flat tires in the process :)

Next project: we need to spend time replacing posts that are rotted and broken, move some of the wire trellis to better support the trees and tie trees to the wire to keep them growing straight, instead of leaning over from the wind and weight of apples.





So these trees are 50+ years old!  We experimented (which happens frequently on our farm!), cut the old tops of the tree off severely and tried grafting Honeycrisp branches on top.  Well, it worked, even on these old trees.  The little branches you see growing straight up now will bear Honeycrisp apples!




And this is just a fun picture of when it snowed here back in February!  My dad had fun and toured around on his snowmobile! 

Has everyone used up their apples by now?!  
I finally had to buy my first apple at the grocery store the other day.  It was a hard thing for me to do!  :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Orchard Closed.

The orchard will be closing at 12pm today, for the season.

Thank you so much for all your business this year!  

We so enjoyed seeing and visiting with you all.  
I hope you have eaten apples to your hearts content.

Now to wait patiently for next season!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ice Apples

 You've heard about them, you've seen them advertised in the newspaper, well.... they are here!!!

Ice Apples!

If you've never heard of them, the blog, my northwestexperience.blogspot.com has this to say about them: 

"Technically they are your basic Fuji apple, very sweet with good crunch. What makes these different is they are picked during the last days of October - the last of the season - and leaving them on the tree a little longer, allowing the center of the apples to crystallize a bit, leaving a pocket of juiciness in the center. This makes the entire apple just a bit sweeter.
Check out this You Tube video and article about ice apples if you' ve never heard about them!



Come try them and see what you think!


To find them in the orchard, look for the 3 rows labeled Fuji, and walk 3/4 of the way down to the far end.  The trees are loaded down at the end!

We also have:

Pink Lady
Braeburn
Gold Rush
Granny Smith

Still all nice and crisp!

There are also some Golden Delicious and Red Delicious out there but getting on the softer side.  
Golden Delicious would still be fine for cooking though.

Remember this is our last weekend officially open!  After this weekend, it will be self-serve until I post otherwise.  Just pay at the office when you leave.

Thanks!