Orchard Report Fourayes Farm: Autumn 2018

At the time of writing we are nearly half way through the first pick of the Bramley.

The end of spring brought us a hail storm which hit half the farm while the other half was unaffected and if that was not enough, on the 29th of May, in a four hour period about middle of the day, it went very dark like night and the heavens opened. We had 111mm of rain. Our orchards were flooded. The roads were like rivers. You could have gone white water rafting in some of our orchards and several local houses were flooded. All of this was followed by about 8 weeks of drought as recorded by our weather station. In spite of that we have got a fairly average, if a little on the small side, crop.

Our pheromone spoiler experiment is in its second year and has been very good this year again. We have not had to spray for codling or tortrix moths in these orchards.

We have had a lot of instances of fly tipping this spring and summer in our lanes, sometimes blocking them for up to three weeks before our council clears it up. We had one large load that we had to clean from our crossroads orchard at great expense.

Our rabbits on the farm have not increased as I thought they would so rabbit control has not been needed, although I am still controlling rabbits in a neighbouring farm. Buzzards are increasing every year! I see three every morning on my drive to work in the Land Rover and we see them, or hear them, all day at work. Kestrels and sparrow hawks seem to be on the increase as do our badgers and, just before writing this, I saw about 15 Goldfinches.

Ian Witherden at Fourayes Farm.