We’ve had a break in the heavy rain, and that’s ok! The sun and light winds have dried the mud in the orchards enough so the tree team can finish pruning the plums and pluots. Thinning the apricot orchard is next on their list. It’s a big job. We have 44 acres of apricots, with 200 trees per acre. That means 8,800 apricot trees need our love and attention.
The difference between pruning and thinning
When you prune a tree, you remove dead wood, ventilate the tree, and focus the tree’s energy to help it produce better fruit.
When you thin a tree, you remove crop growth. Like pruning, the goal is to focus the tree’s energy on producing better fruit. To thin the trees, the team looks for fruit that’s dime-sized or smaller. They also look for fruit that is the size of a quarter. If they see a dime-sized fruit next to quarter-sized fruit, they retain the larger fruit and thin out the smaller fruit.
“The larger fruit has a better source of nutrients from the branch,” Farmer Al says. “Or, it could be larger because of the timing of pollination. When it’s time to harvest, you want all the fruit to be the same size and ripeness.”
Sometimes the tree team waits a few days to let the smaller fruits fall off themselves. Those fruits tend not to be well-attached to the branch.
Labor of love
Imagine thinning the fruit from 8,800 trees! It takes time and patience. The size of the job depends on the size of the crop. Farmer Al has a formula – he knows that one team member should be able to thin two trees in an hour. That means it will take our 38-member Tree Team working eight hours a day a total of two weeks to thin 44 acres of apricots.
It’s a big job, and that’s just one crop!
Uniformity is the key
We love uniformity at the farm. Fruit that is all about the same size is easier to harvest and pack. Our customers love uniformity too. They want apricots that are consistently delicious, big, and juicy.
From thinning to compost placement, we do everything we can to deliver the delicious, juicy, nutritious fruit that everyone loves. We’re counting on some uniform sunny days to help us get the work done.