Bramley apple orchard Fourayes

Ian's Orchard Reports

Jan 30, 2013

Summer / Autumn 2012

Strong winds, heavy rain (even hail!) plays havoc with the bees and pollination.

At the time of writing, we are just edging out of a night of strong winds and heavy rain. We are steadily harvesting our last 15 acres of Bramley and are currently well down on last years crop.

What a dreadful season we have had, starting with drought and then in April the heavens opened, just before the bees arrived from Warwickshire by land rover and trailer. Fifty hives were spread around our orchards in very wet, cold and windy conditions. This season I put on a bee suit myself and helped the keeper, however, the bees refused to come out of the hives and this carried on throughout the six weeks that the blossom lasted. This gave us very poor pollination.

Wet conditions persisted throughout the season with some sections also suffering minor hail damage. Another problem arose this summer in August and September when we had up to 300 rooks pecking our Bramley’s and during this period the shotgun and starting pistol were much in use to frighten the birds away!

In August I had the pleasure of being asked to be a judge, on a panel of two, for a “Best kept orchard” competition. Some 17 orchards were judged around north and east Kent that were owned by some very high profile companies.

Fourayes wildlife
Our wildlife on the farm seems to be holding on despite the awful breeding season. Our badger numbers are well up, a Barn Owl was seen recently over our yard and the Swallows and House Martins are grouping up to migrate.

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