Planting Then and Now
Back in the early days, Norfolk County's farmers maintained relatively small-acreage orchards, growing a wide variety of apples on large trees. Through the years, apple production has been refined considerably. Today's orchards are larger, the varieties are fewer and the trees are decidedly smaller. The biggest difference between then and now, however, is that today's yield is much greater and this is due to a host of advancements in our Association's industry.
The very way we "plant" trees today has changed. Dwarfing-type rootstock trees are budded-mainly to Empire, McIntosh, Red Delicious, Northern Spy, Honeycrisp, Gala and Ambrosia. High-density plantings are initiated and new cultivars are seriously considered with some trial plantings. Our total tree population exceeds 286,000, of which 95% are budded to dwarf-type rootstock. Our member-growers continually strive to update and increase their production through the removal of inefficient trees and obsolete varieties.
Orchard Visits and Field Studies
The Association's quality-control staff visits the orchards throughout the growing season to monitor crop development. Summer scouts are collectively hired each year to provide information for growers to implement their IPM programs on their farms. This allows the targeted application of crop protection materials in the most efficient and judicial manner.
Fruit Monitoring and Testing
Prior to picking, the fruit is tested for its internal ethylene (ethylene gas is the plant hormone that causes fruits to ripen) concentration to determine the optimum time to harvest. Ethylene is an indicator of fruit maturity and is used to initiate monitoring of the apples.
Once picked, the fruit is monitored for internal ethylene, pressure, sugar/starch ratio and soluble solids to evaluate the proper storage time, thus enabling the Association to market its members' fruit effectively-and to ensure that its customers enjoy quality apples throughout the growing season.
After the apples are transferred from storage to the packing facility, they are again continually monitored as they are packed for the consumer market. Shelf-life analysis is performed to make sure that the fruit going to market is of premium quality.
Accountability to our Growers
Individual blocks of fruit are tracked - from orchard to market - so that our growers can be informed as to how their fruit has performed and how they may alter their individual production systems to better meet the market's needs.
Contact us to learn more about our apples.