Orchard News: Harvest Time
A productive harvest begins long before the first Ambrosia apple is picked. Good pruning techniques earlier in the season are essential, so that only the best apples are left on the tree.
Next, the orchardist should ensure that the orchard floor is in prime condition for harvest by eliminating any groundhogs or rodents and filing in all burrows, removing any obstacles that could trip a worker, and cutting the grass. All orchard roads must be levelled so the picked fruit can be transported smoothly.
The grower determines the correct time to harvest based on the maturity of the fruit, which is not only important for quality, but also for successful storage.
Top quality pickers are essential to the harvest, and many of our Ambrosia farmers rely on migrant workers to get the job done. There have been a few logistical challenges in these times of restrictions and uncertainty, but Mother Nature waits for no one: the “Harvest Show” must go on, so many of the farmers have looked to their friends and family for support. Good training in the proper picking method is key.
One of the easiest picking techniques to teach is the “rolling method”. Using this technique, the apple is gently turned upside down on the spur. If the fruit is ready to pick it usually separates easily without disturbing other apples or the fruit spur. All of the Ambrosia apples are placed carefully in a picking container. Fruit hitting other fruit, or hitting the side of the container, causes bruising. Ambrosia apples must be handled like eggs; the process is labour-intensive, and all done by hand.
Most apple growers are aware of the present high marketing standards and can produce quality fruit, and Ambrosia apple growers maintain that quality throughout the harvesting and handling period, which is why their fruit is in such high demand.
Watch this video if you’d like to see an Ambrosia apple harvest “in action.”