Organic Fruit Growers Farm Tours

Before I delay any further I’ll post these pictures to all of you. Then follow up with my field notes in a few days… hopefully.

About a month ago I attended a farm tour day in southern Wisconsin put on by the Organic Fruit Growers Association. Starting off at Atoms to Apples farm in Mount Horeb for the first half of the day, and then moving to Two Onion Farm in Belmont after lunch gave a great opportunity to see firsthand a couple well managed orchards.

The beginnings of a high-density dwarf apple orchard at Atoms to Apples farm. 16 foot cedar posts were used at the ends of the rows to support the wire trellis to train the tree up to. Dwarf fruit trees need more support and training than standard trees.
The beginnings of a high-density dwarf apple orchard at Atoms to Apples farm. 16 foot cedar posts were used at the ends of the rows to support the wire trellis to train the tree up to. Dwarf fruit trees need more support and training than standard trees.

 

The bottom 3 feet of the trees is protected from rodents by plastic tree wrap. It can expand a fair amount as the tree grows.
The bottom 3 feet of the trees is protected from rodents by plastic tree wrap. It can expand a fair amount as the tree grows.

 

Simple "weather station".
Simple “weather station”.

 

Drip irrigation is installed down each row.
Drip irrigation is installed down each row.

 

A view from half way up the hill. This was formerly run down pasture before they bought the place and started making improvements for fruit trees. It's hard to image cows grazing on this steep of a hillside and not having any damage.
A view from half way up the hill. This was formerly run down pasture before they bought the place and started making improvements for fruit trees. It’s hard to image cows grazing on this steep of a hillside and not having any damage.

 

I'm standing at the end of a row of grapes. Raspberries are off to the left and blackberries and strawberries are off to the right.
I’m standing at the end of a row of grapes. Raspberries are off to the left and blackberries and strawberries are off to the right.

 

A couple long rows of raspberries. They try to train the plants to be as "flat" as possible, rather than bushing out all over the place, so that picking berries and air circulation are made as easy as possible.
A couple long rows of raspberries. They try to train the plants to be as “flat” as possible, rather than bushing out all over the place, so that picking berries and air circulation are made as easy as possible.

 

Rami demonstrates an EZ Lift device. This helps to support any load that you have to carry out in front of you for an extended time, like a pruning saw. I will definitely have to get one of these!
Rami demonstrates an EZ Lift device. This helps to support any load that you have to carry out in front of you for an extended time, like a pruning saw. I will definitely have to get one of these!

 

apple trees
Now at Two Onions Farm. They’ve used individual stakes for each tree (10-footers I believe) as well as 3 horizontal wires. I believe these are 5 year old trees.

 

A first year tree, starting off with a lot of support.
A first year tree, starting off with a lot of support.

 

They've used tree tubes for rodent protection on the bottom 2 feet. Heavy mulching with shredded bark and twigs (ie. ramial wood chips).
They’ve used tree tubes for rodent protection on the bottom 2 feet. Heavy mulching with shredded bark and twigs (ie. ramial wood chips).

 

Note the clothes pins used to gently train the branches into more horizontal growth (makes for stronger branches later in life).
Note the clothes pins used to gently train the branches into more horizontal growth (makes for stronger branches later in life).

 

An orchard ladder - very wide at the base for stability.
An orchard ladder – very wide at the base for stability.

 

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