Apple Time!

Today we had the opportunity to visit a local farm that produces exceptional apples and apple products. Brantview Farm has been in the Howell family since 1820 and the 7th generation is now farming the land. I learned a lot from a very passionate apple farmer. He explained the different jobs that have to be done during each season of the apple farm. I learned that there is no ‘down time’ in the winter as every single tree on 39 acres needs a “haircut”. This year has proven to be a difficult year for the apple farmers due to some seriously wonky weather in southern Ontario. We had a warm winter, which meant that the trees did not completely go dormant; Mr Howell explained that it was like they were ‘napping’ as opposed to ‘sleeping’ as they normally would during a cold winter. We had an early, warm spring which caused the ‘napping’ trees to begin their growing season which was disastrous during a very frosty April. Nippy nippy nip… the blossoms died on the trees. Brantview had anticipated a crop of 10% compared to other years, however, they have discovered that they are up to 25% of previous yields, not bad considering the other weather factor which was a very dry summer. In fact, the dry summer meant that the trees did not put out as many buds as they may have normally, which means that next summer’s yield will be less as well! Who knew that apple trees have already decided on their yields for next summer?!? (I, obviously, did not)  I was impressed to learn about their integrated pest management system (IPM) that has been active on their farm since 1947. It enables them to grow their apples with less need for chemicals and pesticides. They have their apples tested every year by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, and consistently score in the top 5 farms in the province for the least amount of chemicals. In fact, Mr Howell believes that his apples are pretty much on par with organic apples… not that they are accredited as an organic orchard. I was happy to learn that when I eat Brantview apples, I am not consuming pesticides and sprays that are often found on apples. After the informative talk, we had a wagon ride, visited the corn maze, and picked our own Golden Delicious apples. All in all a great outing!

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