Orchard Report Fourayes Farm: Autumn 2016

We are about a third of the way though our second pick of the Bramley. For the most part it has been a dry summer with almost no rain at all in August.

The Bramley size has been down so we have been picking below estimate. The orchard we are going to plant this winter has been grubbed, ploughed, marked out and staked. Our trees should arrive in December, ready for planting. We have just taken delivery of a new John Deere tractor to replace a tractor that we bought back in 2005, which has not lasted as well as we thought it would.

Peter, our farm worker, is taking great pleasure operating the new tractor.

This year’s harvest has been dry and some days were very hot. The hottest day fell in September with temperatures hitting 33 degrees. Our pickers found this impossible to cope with and had to retire early more than once.

The loss of an important chemical that we have known as Dursban or Chlorpyrifos has allowed things like Woolly Aphid to creep back into our orchards. For the coming season, next year, this is going to be a big problem. We will have to use more expensive products to combat this. On a lighter note, back in July, I was measuring apples when a buzzard almost knocked my hat off. It was being chased by 7 angry crows – they were that close.

Badgers and foxes are still increasing. The rabbits remain stable. Hares pop into view sometimes. Just a couple of days ago a stoat popped out of the hedge after a rabbit.

Ian Witherden at Fourayes Farm