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Apples on the vine - an innovative method to grow fruit trees
Growers are always looking for ways to ensure their fruit is as fresh and flavorful as possible. One apple grower in Washington is using an innovative method to grow their fruit. What looks like something you'll find in a vineyard is in fact a trellis system that the company have employed in what they believe is a better way to grow their fruit trees.
Ray Norwood, of Auvil Fruit, said the idea of the system began in Europe and Auvil adopted their own version over 40 years ago. Norwood explained the general design. "Originally a concept started in Europe, Auvil fruit Company began a modified version of the trellis system in our farms in 1976," he said. "It is a close planting system in which trees are trained to form a V shaped canopy. The trellis consists of end frames and wires that support the crop. Tree branches are then trained along the wires, providing a 'fruiting wall'".
Why grow apples on a vine?
There are three reasons why Auvil Fruit felt that growing their apples on a trellis will improve their fruit. Firstly, it cuts down on the amount of branches and natural supportive parts of the tree that are required, due to the fact that the trellis itself provides the support. Norwood said this enables the tree to direct more nutrients into the fruit, creating what they believe is tastier fruit. "Our trellis system drives growth into the fruit, not the tree," he explained. "Standard growth systems allow unnecessary limb growth, and our trellis system redirects it into the fruit, capturing the nutrients that create our unmatched flavor."
A second reason is to allow additional sunshine and air to hit the fruit, which the company says increases the flavor of the apples and allows them to grow faster than they otherwise would. "Perfect spacing and directional growth of tree limbs allow extra light and air circulation to flow around developing fruit," said Norwood.
Additionally, Norwood pointed out that the trellis system makes it easier to monitor and pick the fruit at the time when it reaches its ideal ripeness. He also said that, despite the apparent extra care of the trees, with pruning and shaping, the overall costs are less than for conventional methods. "Our apple trees are picked up to five times so that fruit can be left until it reaches ideal picking condition," he said. "The fruit is more readily reachable on the trellis and therefore we can manage when we choose to pick them. Many growers might feel it is expensive to maintain such a system, but on the contrary, the costs involved to maintain growth and pruning etc. are less."
Not just apples
Auvil Fruit currently grow their apples in the trellis system across more than 2000 acres of land and are looking to expand on that. They also grow Rainier and Dark Sweet cherries on the trellis. "We grow apples and cherries on 2300 acres currently, with growth planned in the next few years," Norwood continued. "Depending on the variety, we grow between 1600 and 2400 trees per acre. While most of our acreage is farmed using various versions of trellis systems, there are a few sections still using standard tree plantings. We use the trellis system for both cherries and apples, and will do so in all new plantings going forward."
At this time of year, all of Auvil's apple varieties are in season with the exception of Pink Lady, which will begin in early November. The Aurora Golden Gala, a yellow apple, is the company's own variety. "We grow Granny Smith, Fuji, Gala, Honey Crisp, Aurora and Pink Lady," Norwood said. "Pink Lady is the latest to be harvested, and is not available until the first week of November. All of the rest are available now including our Aurora Golden Gala which is our own variety. It is a beautiful apple with a smooth golden appearance, but with a surprisingly good crunch and flavor explosion unique to this apple."
Norwood said that Auvil's trellis system is part of the company's values to provide customers with flavorful apples. "Our statement 'Where passion meets flavor' is really what we are all about," he said. "Flavor is what bring customers back again and again. We seek to provide world class fruit with exceptional flavor and the trellis system is central to that. This is what has propelled our company forward since 1928, and is what continues to drive us today."
For more information:
Auvil Fruit Company
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