Winter at the Orchard

By March 1, 2022Pleasant Valley Orchard

People often ask, “what do you do in the winter?” A short vacation to a warmer place is usually planned but, other than that, the warmest place I go is sitting next to the woodstove in the apple shed.

Right now, in February and March, Sam, David and I are busy pruning the entire orchard. Why do we spend so much time at this every year? One of the keys to growing quality fruit is to increase light and air penetration into our trees.  We want sunlight to shine right into the middle of all our trees to ripen our fruit and we want open trees that let air circulate to dry the foliage and minimize disease. Every year we prune our nearly 4,000 trees to achieve these goals.  Just like the post office, “neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night will stay these pruners from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”.  (sorry for the paraphrase)

Winter is also for learning. Farmers go to meetings in the winter. We learn from each other; we learn from our partners at the University of Minnesota and from the businesses that provide us with equipment and materials to ply our trade. This year it’s been great to actually see people in person once in a while—in Minnesota growers support each other in their orchard businesses. We do like to operate like family when we can.

After all our winter preparation, we are looking forward to seeing all our customers with thoughts of a great crop in mind.

Jim Birkholz