With Thanksgiving coming up fast, it`s apple season again. There will be crowds of people at the popular apple farms which cater to visitors and pick-your-own over the Thanksgiving Weekend, a favourite outing. And hundreds of migrant workers are already out in the fields, working their way through the harvest one variety after another.
When I first dropped in on one of the apple farms just two weeks ago, the harvest had barely started, with only a few apples on the shelves, and the trees looking unpicked.
The apple harvest will be quite good this year they say, but the apples quite a bit smaller than average, due to the summer drought. Fine with me; I find the monsters you buy in a grocery store just too big to eat.
We used to know three or four varieties of apples that we`d buy in the store (Macs, Delicious, Granny Smith), but now we know there are a lot of varieties, and we shop specifically for the varieties we like. I`d never think of an apple as just an apple anymore; it might be a Honey Crisp (my favourite), a Red Prince, Ambrosia, Russet (Mrs. F.G.`s favourite), or a dozen others. And we rarely buy apples at the store except in the dead of winter; we buy them at the farm. And we know that the varieties follow a sequence over the harvest season, so we switch varieties we buy as the season progresses.
The old orchards are rapidly being outpaced by the new high-density growing model. Small trees, planted close together, and espaliered to wires between the posts. Much easier and faster to pick. And I think that black line at the bottom is drip irrigation.
This is a Red Prince orchard, a new variety that is just coming on the market here in Ontario. Look at how close those rootstocks are!
And look at the production of apples along the top of the trees!
With an investment this large, the entire orchard is fenced with deer-proof fencing, and it`s huge. The apples taste just as good as those grown on the old-fashioned trees!