Saturday, October 15, 2016

A good 2016 apple harvest and a reprieve for an underachiever

2016 has been a good year for apples in our small orchard. We have seven trees altogether: three different sized Katy trees, one Bramley, one Sunset, a Cox’s Orange Pippin and a Red Windsor.

The first to be harvested are the Katy variety. They’re bred in Sweden where they are known as Katja. The books tell us the fruit should be ready for picking in the first week of September but ours are always ready earlier, between August 20th and 27th over the last eight years.

We had a bit of windy weather around then so had quite a few fallers. In addition to this, the birds started on them. They’re bright red when ripe and birds seem to be attracted to them, just as they eat red berried fruit in the garden before yellow, blue or black ones.

So having lost a fair number we got our act together and harvested the rest, whether fully ripe or not. Those that weren’t soon finished ripening in their crates which were left in the sunshine for a few days.

Altogether we had about 40lb of them. They’re good eaters, though they don’t store well, but they are also grown commercially for cider making. So having eaten an apple a day for a few weeks, the last few pounds were used to make cider in a demi-john.

Next up were the Bramleys. These ripened over a more extended period, starting in the mid- September, though some weren’t ready by the second week of October. However, by this time the birds were on to them and with more windy days, I stepped in and harvested all the apples that were left on October 8th. 

From the one 10ft tall tree we had a decent crop of 30lb. Quality was mixed but okay over all.

Sunset started ripening on the tree in late September but strong winds in early October brought quite a few down. And with the birds, again, starting to cause a problem, I picked the lot. They are still ripening in their crates on the patio.

It’s a medium-sized tree, about six-feet tall but more than 10-feet wide and always sets loads of fruit, so many that I need to thin them. Even then, it produces small apples but of very good quality and flavour. This year we had around 25lb.

Our Red Windsor, however, has never been a productive tree. It’s grown well – to about 15ft – and and it’s reasonably healthy. But we don’t get much blossom on it and in the six summers since I planted it, it has produced just three apples, of mediocre quality. And so, sadly, I decided it’s time was up.

Miraculously, by intentions seem to have got through to it and this summer we had, for the first time, what could be described as a crop of fruit. Admittedly, it wasn’t large for the size of the tree, but about 10lb of good quality fruit was a massive improvement and enough to earn it a reprieve for at last another year.

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