So, What’s Happening In The Orchard? – July 2018

July in the orchard is a busy time of year. Even though it tends to be hot and dry during July everything continues to grow. If we are lucky enough to catch a rain, then everything really grows well including the weeds. Right now, we are concentrating on making sure that we have a quality apple crop available for all our guests to enjoy. This is the stretch of time when our earliest apples, Zestar followed by Galas, really begin to put on size and start to change color.

Several factors affect how large an apple fruit will get. The most important of these factors is genetics. Genetics ultimately determine whether the apple will be small or large. Crab apples are genetically small—they will never become as large as Honeycrisp or Jonathan apples. Cultural practices will also help determine fruit size. Apple trees produce an overabundance of flowers early in the year, and if all those flowers would become fruit there would be a lot of smaller sized fruit. Thinning the trees of excess fruit allows the energy in the tree to be concentrated toward a lesser number of fruit resulting in an increase in fruit size. The best time for fruit thinning is when the apples are approximately the size of a marble or slightly larger. Other cultural practices that effect fruit size include pruning, pollination, nutrition, and soil management.

Environmental factors also play a significant role in fruit sizing. Warm temperatures and good bright days early in the season stimulates cell division within the fruit itself increasing the size.  As the year progresses, cell division gives way to cell expansion meaning the cells themselves are getting larger, and thus the fruit is gaining in size. The most crucial time of the year that determines the overall size of the fruit is 5 weeks after bloom and pollination. The best-case scenario for fruit size is a warm bright early spring with periods of rain.

Some of the most common questions I had received are about planting and growing fruit trees.  In response to these questions, we are going to offer a workshop dealing with planting and raising fruit trees. Now is the time to start planning and getting ready, as preparation is the key to success. The first of the catalogs for next years orders will be arriving soon. The details are as follows:

  • When: Saturday, August 25th, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 2:00
  • Where: Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard (5995 G Rd - Nebraska City NE)
  • Cost: 35.00 – includes lunch & breaks

Pre-registration required. To register or questions contact Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard at 402-873-5293 - OR - Email

Once again, I would also like to take this opportunity to invite everyone out to visit Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard. We strive to make it a new experience each time you visit us. We guarantee that there is always something new to learn or see at Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard.

Vaughn Hammond –Orchard Operations and Education Team Leader

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