Superfresh Growers' January Orchard Update with Dave Gleason
- by Kayla Webb
YAKIMA, WA – With spring on its way, Domex Superfresh Growers is gearing up for a beautiful, bountiful apple season. Here with another Orchard Update, Chief Horticulturist Dave Gleason walks us through the pre-season prep process Domex takes to prepare for as many as 400 apples per tree across its acreage for its 2018 season.
“So much of the orchards are about details. Right now, we’re pruning and shaping the trees, and selecting the areas we want the fruit to grow,” Gleason says. “But if we had a thousand acres, and we had a thousand trees on each acre, that’s a million trees we’d have to get done between the middle of November until the first of March. We have that limited of time to go through and make all the cuts we need to make on the trees. So, for example, we might make 50-60 cuts per tree. And on each of those trees we might want around 100-150 apples, some bigger trees might have 350-400 apples. Each of those comes from one of the buds on the trees that we’ve left on the tree in the perfect place. It’s a big deal.”
One strategy the company has in meeting its orchard needs is using platforms. In the past, Superfresh used ladders, but there were a limited number of people who had the ladder skills to do the work safely. With platforms, however, conditions are safer, and since the platforms move through the trees, the workers are able to focus on the details and make more helpful cuts along the way.
And with modern technology aiding the process, Superfresh has also had to adjust its process to control yield.
“Ultimately, we could have way more apples then we need. So, the first thing that we’re doing each year after apples are picked is going back into that process of adjusting the crop load and selecting where we want those apples to stay. It just gets mind boggling as you look through the trees and you think about all the potential there. I like to think about the potential and all the flowers that are going to be there in three month’s time. It’s going to be beautiful,” Gleason finishes.
Despite the cold Washington winter now, Dave Gleason and the Domex Superfresh Growers’ team are looking forward to a great season.
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