The Four Seasons
of Growing Apples
The winter months are relatively slow for apple growers. In January
the apple grower begins pruning, cutting and trimming branches
off trees. Pruning is important so that apple trees develop strong
framewoods to resist damage from windstorms and heavy snow, and
to bear the load of the fruit. Pruning also makes for easier spraying
and picking and allows sunlight to reach apples in the middle
of the tree in the coming summer.
In the spring, apple growers prepare to plant new trees. Apple
growers buy young apple trees from nurseries. Most trees planted
today are dwarf trees and don't grow very tall. Dwarf trees are
easier to care for and their height allows for much easier picking.
In the late spring, buds - the beginnings of leaves - begin to
swell. Grass is mowed so that it doesn't use up all of the water
and nutrients that the trees need. Apple growers monitor pests
in their orchards and begin spraying if necessary.
In late May and early
June, the fragrant apple blossoms come into bloom. The presence
of bees is crucial this time of year because they are responsible
for pollinating the blossoms. Bees gather pollen from one blossom
and carry it to another blossom. Ultimately, fertilization occurs.
A fertilized blossom will eventually become an apple. Bees are
so important in this stage that many apple growers rent hives
of bees to place in their orchards so they can be assured of having
During July and August, apple growers hope for rain to provide
the trees with lots of water. Apples need cool nights in August
to make them bright red in colour. Apple growers continue mowing,
spraying and pruning. Pests and diseases must be controlled so
that quality fruit is produced. Pesticides and fungicides are
sprayed on trees only when necessary to control certain insects
and diseases. Apple growers also use an Integrated Pest Management
(IPM) system to control insects. This means that growers take
advantage of natural predators that hunt pests to limit the number
of pests in their orchards.
Apple growers will
often do some thinning during the summer months. Thinning involves
removing some of the fruit from the tree to improve the size of
the remaining fruit. Since the amount of nutrients and growing
room available to maturing apples is limited, the greater the
number of apples, the smaller each apple will be. In addition,
thinning also lightens the load on branches so that they do not
split or break.
The fall is harvest time for Nova Scotia apples. As apples bruise
easily, they must be handpicked. Immediately after the apples
are picked they are transported to warehouses all over Nova Scotia,
where they are placed in large refrigerated rooms to stay fresh.
The apples are eaten fresh, exported to various countries, or
processed into juice, pies, sauce, and other apple products.
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