Cutting Edge Growers
The Art of Growing has evolved in the past several years. When early settlers first landed in the Pacific Northwest and discovered the incredible potential to grow apples in this region, they planted low density apple orchards of about 150-180 trees per acre. Today, in the Pacific Northwest, a high density apple orchard is defined as 2,000-2,700 trees per acre. In a high density apple orchard, trees are planted close together with a dwarfing rootstock. Rootstocks vary dramatically and should be assessed by orchard location, variety, soil and planting style.
The ultimate goal of a high density orchard is to allow the grower the opportunity for his farm to be in production 2-5 years; which is important to the Grower’s return on investment. Early production is a necessity for farmers to be competitive in a very challenging industry. Here are a few other reasons high density apple orchards are more desirable to the Pacific Northwest commercial apple grower:
- Labor is more efficiently used in pruning and harvesting trees due to higher accessibility.
- Light interception. Light is a key component to bud health and longevity of the orchard which directly influences the quality of the fruit. Old systems would create an “umbrella effect” in the tree and shade many of the buds causing unhealthy or poor fruit. The idea of a high density orchard is to grow a “limb” and not a tree, to allow for better light interception. These orchards typically create the best color and size which makes these apples more desirable in the marketplace.
- Trees are more efficiently cared for because all limbs are exposed for day-to-day maintenance purposes.
As you can see, growing fruit is an art. Growers need to read the land, trees and the environment to allow the creation of something wonderful that we can all enjoy. Growers need to stay competitive and use sustainable practices to continue to develop a system that can efficiently produce the highest quality of fruit. Sage Fruit growers are on the cutting edge of growing practices and are constantly looking for ways to meet the wishes of our retailers and consumers while maintaining a profitable existence. When all of these elements come together, it truly creates “An Exceptional Eating Experience”.Fun Facts:
- The apple tree originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Sea.
- More than half of all apples grown in the United States for fresh eating come from orchards in Washington State.