An Appleyear | Edition 6 – June & July 2019

EVA-Apples: Hi Karin, how time flies. Now it´s summer, we have 30° and above and we are in your EVELINA orchard. Your main task in June and July is the thinning. Please explain us, what exactly you are doing?

Karin: Hi, I´m very happy you are joining us today in our orchard. Today you can watch me and my staff at one of the most important tasks during the year. As spoken we are currently thinning the trees manually. Our focus is to pick those apples wich are too much on the tree, which are damaged or misshapen.

EVA-Apples: What exactly is the advantage/outcome of this intense manual work? What is the advantage for the consumer?

Karin: Well, of course there are the EU regulations and standards which we need to obey on the other hand we have the requirements of our retail partners. It is my aim to produce only best fruit which is flawless, without any mistakes and in a certain size. Everything else out of this category is not sellable. That´s why it´s so important to make sure that we leave only a certain number of apples on the tree. This gives the tree the chance to relive and spend open the possibility to give the remaining fruits more nutrients so these apples can grow better, and also develop better inner qualities and taste.

EVA-Apples: Looking at the orchards this must be an enormous time investment?

Karin: That is true. But we should not forget the June drop which can be supported by various measurements. Is the June drop not good, we of course need some more time. For out orchards it takes some hundred, well I even think some thousand hours.

EVA-Apples: Your staff is currently working in the orchards. You are saying you have two squads. What are the individual tasks of each squad?

Karin: Yes, that´s right. We are currently in an orchard, where my workers are on an automatic driving hydraulic lift to work on the top of the trees. So, this ist the area you can´t reach from the bottom. The other workers are walking through the orchards take care of the bottom parts of the trees.

EVA-Apples: As I can see the innovation and investment in new technology is very important for you. You were talking about your automatic driving hydraulic lift, which is very fancy. How is working?

Karin: This hydraulic lift is some kind of luxury for us, but has an enormous importance for us. No way I would get rid of it. It´s an electric engine. So, we hardly have any noise development and we have variable speed control. Beside that it´s steering automatically by scanning the surrounding with ultrasonic sensors. Also it keeps the platform automatically in balance even if we are working on slopes. The main advantage is that it´s easy to control and we can use it any time, even on steep slopes wihtout putting anybody in danger compared to working with a tractor. And we have one additional workforce as we don´t need a driver for the tractor.

EVA-Apples: It is incredibly hot below the hail nets. Do you know how many degrees it´s below the nets and what are your working times with these current temperatures?

Karin: That is difficult to say how many degrees we are having. It is definitely way hotter than outside of the hail nets. The air below the nets is real stifling wihtout hardly any wind movements. Because of that we are starting very early morning, because by that time it´s little cooler and more pleasant.  We leave it in the hands of the workers, at what time they would like to take their lunch break and how long they are taking their brake. They can decide themselves at what time they can levae back to work. At this time, we are very flexible when it comes to working times.

EVA-Apples: What influence do the hail nets have on the development of the apples?

Karin: Coloring is of course a little weaker below the hail nets. But when it comes to these temperature this is also an advantage as they are protected from direct sunlight and can´t get sunburn. Apples with sunburn are damaged and can´t be used for sale.

EVA Apples: What other additional works you need to do during summer?

Karin: Mulching is a task we need to carry out all year long. Another work is the summer cut where we are cutting longer sprouts in order to get more light into the orchards and make sure the apples are getting a better and more intense coloring. And of course, we need to make inspection routes and see if the trees are having any potential diseases or pests. This way we could react immediately in case of any potential threat.

EVA-Apples: This has been a year… First the mild winter, the early blossoming then an rainy cold March and then in May and June the extreme high temperatures. Can you tell us, how are the trees really effected by this climate change?

Karin: We consider this as a difficult year. But maybe we just have to accept it and adapt to the climatic changes. Some varieties are getting russeting or stay smaller because of colder temperatures. Those extreme temperature variations do have effects on the trees. The trees adapt to the new challenges and apples just cannot grow anymore. Also, the draught is a real challenge. But let´s wait and see how the crop at the end will look like. All fruit and vegetables producers have to face this challenges. We are all in the same boat.

EVA-Apples: You have your own pond and you can use the water to irrigate the trees. Are there any addititonal positive effects your water system is having? Especially when it´s this hot?

Karin: We are very privileged and lucky that we are having a water system. Especially if the weather is draught like now we can water all trees with our irrigation system through small channels going through our orchards. In additional, we are switching on the overhead sprinklers (the ones we are using for anitfreeze irrigation in winter) in summer. This helps to cool down the temperatures in shortest time within our orchards. This has positive short term, but no negative long term effects on the trees.

EVA-Apples: It is really incredible which expenses you have to take in order that we all get those wonderful apples. Karin, thank you very much for your time. It’s hot and I’m leaving, but not without you asking your question to us.

Karin: Thank you for visiting us and your interest in our work. I would like to know if you get any responses to our blog and if you know how people like it.

EVA-Apples: To be honest we not received direct response form any individuals. But it was not our goal to aim for feedback or likes. We want to provide a platform which is long-term orientated and where interested people can get some solid basis information about fruit production and what expenses it takes to produce first quality apples. Still looking at access statistics on our website and on our facebook site I can see that there are many clicks on the various articles and there is a certain interest in this topic. Also, we have been in interaction various journals who were following our blog activities.