Monday, April 27, 2015

Springtime came fast!

Well somehow it is spring here!

We had to go into overdrive a little near the end of pruning our apples.  Because of the weather, everything is 3 weeks early so far this year so our winter seemed to go quickly!

We sometimes hire this machine to come top our trees.  We still have to do lots of hand pruning afterwards to do.  We like our trees pretty low so sometimes this machine doesn't quite cut low enough.  The person driving it is practically barricaded into a metal cab just in case one of the round cutter blades were to come off, but more so they don't get pelted with flying branches.

apple topper 2 apple topper

before topping
apple trees topped

small apples
Little apples starting to grow. About pinky finger size now and smaller.
even smaller
Different apple variety, a little farther behind.

We hung our bug pheromone sticky traps in the apples to keep watch for any codling moth.  (Codling moths are the bugs you can thank for worm holes in your apples.)  This year we also hung in each tree a mating disruptor for the codling moth.  It is a little ring you slide over a branch near the top of the tree.  It's pheromone (smell a bug can smell) confuses the codling moths so they can't find each other to mate.  Pretty cool because it is an organic method to repel codling moths.  We are excited to see how well it works.
mating disruptor
Can you see the orange circle band? That's the mating disruptor.
outside bug trap
inside bug trap
No codling moth in the trap! Just some flies and some other small bugs that I need to find out what they are.

sticks straightening apple trees
A row of our trees was starting to lean. So we had to straighten all the trees with these 2x4's and tighten the wire. Should help a bunch.

 Other Farm Happenings:


A majority of the blueberries are done blooming too.  Whew we made it through without a frost!  Each developmental stage the blueberry goes through has a different cold temperature it can withstand before it is ruined.  When the berry is in full blossom, it can withstand 28 degrees.  Right after the blossom falls off, where you have a tiny green berry, it can only stand 32 degrees.  This is actually where we are right now so we are at the most vulnerable stage.  Thankfully the forecast looks good.

Here is a good site to see pictures of this:

We are also walking our grass seed fields, hoeing out any grasses that are not Tall Fescue grass.  We already did a pass through in the fall and got the majority but now is the time to check again.  It is especially important to do a good job on the grass fields that were just planted in the fall.  If you start your field off clean, it will be much easier to manage as the years go by.  We keep our grass fields in for a minimum of 3 years, many times longer if the yield is still doing well.  You don't want any weed seeds, especially other grass seed types, in your field.  After harvest, our grass seed gets tested up at Oregon State.  There are 225,000 seeds in one pound of Tall Fescue grass seed.  If they find more than 1 weed seed (especially another type of grass seed), you may have to renegotiate with your grass seed buyer for a lower price, or the buyer can choose to reject your seed, since we signed a contract stating our grass seed would be clean up to their standards. So that's why when you see a whole line of people slowly walking a grass field in a line, that is what they are doing!

Well I am off to work (on what seems to be) too much paperwork for our upcoming annual Global Gap blueberry food safety audit in July.  If I don't get started now, I will never get it done! That is starting to be one of the hardest parts about Spring, having to be inside working on this when there are so many other important things to do. I'm not against the audit at all in theory but in reality it seems to take up so much of my time each year.  I did just finish all the paperwork for our Norpac Stewardship Food Alliance audit so that is one checked off the list!  I will keep plugging away...and at least I can have the door of the office open so I can get some fresh air!