Orchard Report Fourayes Farm: Winter 2014

Our harvest is almost complete, we are on the last full day of the Bramley pick and have one more pick of the Gala to finish, with just a few pollinators.

The start of this year’s harvest was predicted correctly on the 26th August, meant an early start to the season.

I cannot believe the good luck we have had with the weather this year. The first day of the pick was awful as it rained almost all day but since then it has been dry for almost all of the time. This year has been the driest harvest I have ever witnessed, and I have witnessed numerous harvests.

This year we have had some very nice shaped, good quality Bramleys and the same for our Gala, which was picked in good summer conditions. Last year, the Gala was picked in winter conditions where you could see your breath and had frozen fingers.

The long dry summer has been very good for butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, crane flies and a whole variety of other insects. The number of badgers seen has increased. Our rabbits are having a bout of myxomatosis so the numbers have slightly decreased. On the bird front, our buzzards are increasing and for the first time we have seen grey wagtails. There has also been an increased amount of green woodpeckers and goldfinches. I recently saw a stoat hunting and our hares are very much visible.

Fourayes has held three training seminars this year, two of them being held during the harvest season. Some of the guests even found themselves apple picking. Take this as a warning, if you are lucky enough to take part in a seminar at Fourayes, then you may find yourselves giving apple picking a go! On a serious note, our guests had some fun and found the experience highly educational.

Our new orchard has most of its stakes in place; the rows have been sprayed with herbicide to aid planting which is scheduled to take place this winter.

Ian Witherden at Fourayes Farm