Orchard Report Fourayes Farm: Spring 2014

We are just edging our way out of Spring. Our blossom has gone and the bees have returned home to Warwickshire after having some lovely sunshine to work in.

At the moment there appears to be an excellent bloom set, which could mean a good quality crop of nice shaped apples for our peeling machines. What a pleasant surprise after such an awful, wet winter.

We are just finishing the last of our pruning and we have grubbed our oldest orchard, 11¼ acres which was planted in 1984. Our oldest orchard has been cleared and ploughed, ready to mark out and put the stakes into place. The tree spacing will be 11ft by 3ft, however, it will be entirely stakes, unlike our wire and cane orchard which was planted in 2008.

The incredibly wet Winter has caused a problem with washing away our nutrients from the soil. We are addressing this problem by applying extra foliar nutrients through the leaf of the tree.

This season is much earlier than last years with full bloom being just after Easter. If this season carries on progressing at this fast rate, our harvest could return to starting at its normal time of the last week in August.

There is currently lots of wildlife on the farm. There are plenty of 4 to 5 week old rabbits running around; these are known in farming circles as ‘bolters’. The swallows and swifts have joined us for a few weeks, and the turtle doves are beginning to arrive. We have plenty of pheasants around and I have seen two pairs of English partridges. We will soon start to see the odd leveret (young hares) hiding under the trees.

Ian Witherden at Fourayes Farm