Summer in the Orchard – The Thinning Process
A farmer’s work is never done. While we’re sipping our Ambrosia cocktails, Ambrosia farmers are busy thinning the trees to ensure only the best apples reach our table this Fall.
While Ambrosia apple trees thin themselves naturally, many times the tree still holds onto surplus fruit which results in small, sometimes misshapen apples. To get the largest, healthiest fruit from their Ambrosia apple trees, our farmers usually need to help Mother Nature out a little. The approach is tedious and methodical, but a very important step in the growing process.
Prior to manually thinning the apples, the orchardist will take a good look at each tree to see how much fruit it is bearing after the natural thinning process has occurred. They will also determine if the tree is yielding a large crop, which may mean that last year’s thinning process was too conservative, so they can adjust how aggressively this year’s thin should be.
Most of the thinning is done by hand, so that the farmer can use extreme care and keep the spur intact. Those Ambrosia apples that are malformed, diseased, or insect damaged are removed, as is any fruit that is too small. Two to six such fruits per cluster are thinned down to one large and healthy Ambrosia apple.
During the thinning process, farmers are also able inspect the trees, ensuring that any diseased or broken limbs, or signs of insect infestation, can be effectively treated. By thinning the trees, the weight of the apple crop on the branches is also reduced, which helps prevent potential breakage of the limbs.
In some cases, farmers have to make a hard decision, and remove some fruit that appears to be perfectly healthy: a noble sacrifice for the ultimate goal of big, plump, juicy, and crispy Ambrosia apples. Out of the two to six apples in each cluster, one perfect Ambrosia apple will remain to grow. In the Fall, these will be harvested, and be ready for distribution to your favourite grocer, and your table.
To see the Summer thinning process in action, CLICK HERE