Harvesting fruit trees story of seasons

Harvesting fruit trees story of seasons


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Harvesting fruit trees story of seasons

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2014 at 08:24 PM.

As you pick fruit from the orchard you are also reaping a series of rewards.

A good harvest means good financials for owners of orchards, orchards that are not producing well might need to be replanted.

The season has not just ended in the orchard, but also with an opportunity to learn more about the fruit and a lesson in biology that will help in the future.

"The fruit has a real short season and we go through it in a hurry," said Richard Taylor, owner of Taylor Orchards in Clayton.

The trees, in the orchard are planted so that the season begins in late March or early April. The trees will produce the next crop, Taylor said, even if there is no rain or snow on the ground. Trees get fertilized every four to five years and each tree will produce another crop of fruit.

"The good seasons you are seeing are the end of a three- or four-year cycle," Taylor said.

So what are those two seasons you are seeing?

The first one is from spring or early- to mid-April, when the crop of fruit is starting to be produced. During the first month of April the fruit on the trees have not ripened and many of the varieties on the trees have a green color.

At this point, the trees do not have much more potential than the first crop that is produced in October, Taylor said.

The second season is from April to June. This is the time when trees have matured and produce a larger crop, which can produce many more pieces of fruit. This is when fruit is harvested from the trees, Taylor said.

This is when the fruit on the trees is really good quality, and it does not matter if there was a big rainstorm that day.

"We're talking about getting in a truck and driving to a grocery store to get it fresh, not canned fruit," Taylor said.

Many consumers want fresh fruit, and the time period from spring to mid-summer makes it easy to enjoy some of the finest fruits in the world, Taylor said. He said apples have a peak season in the summer, peaches in the summer and cherries and berries in the fall.

The University of California has a website on the production of fresh fruit and vegetables, and in some cases has fruit ready for sale, but Taylor said that is very limited.

Many farmers who do have fresh fruit for sale are not able to offer it, so fresh fruit is available for a short time at farmers' markets and a few other places.

"That's a lot of the reason why people enjoy fresh fruit," Taylor said.

At Taylor's farm, he is able to offer strawberries and blueberries, two of the fruit items that are ready for harvest, at farmers' markets. But consumers should always try to buy fresh fruit from a local farmer to assure the quality and freshness.

"You get a really good sense of flavor," he said. "It's the first quality you get with fresh fruit."

Taylor also said it is important to talk with farmers to find out when the trees are ready to pick and what time the picking should occur.

A good rule of thumb is to check with farmers in the area to find out when the trees are ready, Taylor said. When the farmers are in the early picking stage, he said it is not uncommon to find the trees picked by early afternoon.

Taylor said it also is important to make sure the farmers are not over-picking their trees. He said he does not recommend that customers eat a specific amount of fresh fruit in order to see if there is enough fruit to sell.

"The farmer wants to get the maximum amount out of the tree," he said.

Consumers should take their time when they visit a farmers' market to find out which fruit is ready to pick.

"Don't walk through and try to find the fruit," Taylor said. "Instead, walk around and observe. When you see fruits that are picked but not ripe, don't buy them because you will not get much benefit. You will not get the flavor you want and the fruit will only get sweeter as it gets overripe."

It is important to try to visit the farmers' market every day to find out when the fruits are ready, he said.

Fruits that are ready to pick are usually soft and fragrant, while those that are ripe but not ready are firm and firm-ripe.

Once the farmers market is open, Taylor said it is important to pick the fruit before the market closes to ensure they have the opportunity to sell them.

Taylor said the markets in the Upper Shenandoah Valley are some of the best in the state, especially the Berryville and Rockfish markets.

But Taylor has some advice for anyone who wants to become a farmers' market "shopper" and find the freshest fruits available.

"Go to the farmers' market as a vendor and take pictures," he said. "In fact, I usually make my vendors take pictures of what they are growing and showing off. That way, people can tell what is in season, what they want to grow and what they can go buy."

He also suggested using a GPS unit to navigate to the farms and markets instead of relying on the paper maps of the area to plan your visits.

For those who want to go out for a day or more and harvest fruit in the country, Taylor said there is a chance that they will find people selling fruits that are not ripe.

"Some of the places will grow them with a purpose to sell them," he said. "Be aware that fruits that are picked and sold are not in season, and you might end up with a few surprises if you buy them."

Taylor said there are three key things to look for when buying fruits.

First, look at the color and make sure the fruit is not too green or moldy.

Secondly, make sure the fruits are firm.

Finally, look for the best quality.

Taylor said if you buy the best fruit, you can enjoy it with as little or as much processing as you like.

"Processing can be an art form, and some people don't want to do it, and some people love doing it. You should try what you like," he said. "You can always add to processing later."



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