EVA Apples: Hi Karin, it´s good to see you again. First I wish you and your Family a good and prosperous new year. I hope you had some nice holidays and had a good start into the new year. How is everything going with your winter cut? Were you able to finish most of your work?
Karin: Yes, currently everything is looking good. Thank you for asking. As the last weeks we didn´t have any snow or rain and weather in general was nice, we were even able to cut the tree tops. Now we have to walk through the orchards and have to cut the bottom parts of the trees – so calles “scaffold branches”. But over all, there is an end in sight.
EVA-Apples: How do you see the changes in the recent weeks and years in regard of winters getting milder and milder? If you see the current pictures of upper Styria, what would you say is the ideal winter climate for growing trees? Is it better to have a strong winter with deep minus degrees and full of snowfall or are winters better, which are milder? Please also explain why?
Karin: The pictures we have seen are incredible. I can´t imagine how difficult it is for the people living there. In regard of fruit production a strong winter is better. The trees are then in winter rest an the wood can ripen better. With the mild winters the risk is very high that the trees start to sprout too early. In case of a sudden cold is coming it could happen, that the vascular tissues are getting damaged or in worst case that the trees completely die back. It´s also possible that in mild winters the sprout and because of that blossoming is starting earlier. This is increasing the risk of flower frost.
EVA-Apples: What other kind of risks might occur in mild winters, in regard of pests for example?
Karin: Well, on the one hand that many of those pests survive in mild winters. They can cause enormous damages during spring. On the other hand that new pests out of more southern countries are also coming to Austria and are settling down and also survive. This is then a new challenge for us as we, in these cases, don´t know how to control these new pests.
EVA-Apples: We suppose that winter is also a time which you need to use for other topics, such as accounting, paperwork preparation for the international food standards (like GlobalGap). What kind of those works do you have to do during winter?
Karin: Yes that´s right. Accounting is of special importance for me. I want to know if we did a good Job or if we a bad business in the previous year. That only works if I know the KPI´s of my own business. It of course helps me to plan expenses but it´s also interesting to know in which direction production costs are developing and how much they are rising from year to year! As we are certified according to the GlobalGap standard we also need to take care of this topic. Also here there are many documents and forms to fill in. The most intensive work is the business record book in which we need to record all pest agents´ usage, useful creature/pests, care work, fertilization, etc. That´s why it´s important to finalize a production year in time, to make sure everything is alright and set all preparations for the coming one.