Friday, November 5, 2010

2010 season has come to a close

Phew!!! What a season! Looking back now I am able to gain a bit of perspective on the season that just came and went (so quickly it seemed) and reflect on it as a whole. The highlights that come to mind include an excellent peach season. The trees bore heavy, the fruit were large and clean, and the flavor was out of this world. We salvaged a good strawberry season from what I thought in mid may was going to be very disappointing due to the severe freeze the region had on may 10 and 11. We ended up picking what I calculated to be about 80% of a full crop and the fruit was good quality. Thankfully the frost only affected the quantity. Raspberries had their best season ever and could have been better if it weren't for the extreme heat and humidity in mid july which greatly reduced our customer visits and resulted in losing some of the fruit to rot. Blueberries were only 2/3 of a full crop. I wish I knew why! I don't think the may freeze affected them and I also don't think I pruned them to hard which I have been known to do. So I am still working on that question. This was our first year of actually harvesting cherries because we invested in a bird netting system. Those like the peaches were a nice treat this past summer and any one who came to pick some I think really enjoyed the experience. The dry summer weather was perfect for growing cherries which resulted in very little fruit cracking (except for the Rainiers). The memories of this past cherry season are all positive so we will charge ahead and invest in more netting to cover our younger trees. We will see if the memories are just as good next season at this time, the cherries are the riskiest stock in our investment portfolio. Apples went very well this season. almost too well. The ideal marketing weather this fall (NO RAIN) coupled with the early season (we started picking jersey macs in JULY) led to The last apples off a tree being picked at 11am on the saturday of Columbus Day weekend (we ended up selling only drops for the remainder of that 3 day weekend). The season ended at least 2 if not 3 weeks early in my opinion. I would like to develop a PYO apple business where people can rely on Butternut Farm as a source of apples, cider, and pies up until halloween. I bet next year we will still be open the first week in november trying to sell the rest of our apples. Each season is so different.
In addition to the may freeze and the great weather for marketing most of our crops the only other big impact was the fairly extreme drought we had. We ran the irrigation well pumping 15 gallons/minute for 24 hrs a day 7 days a week for the entire month of july, august, and 3 weeks of september. Can somebody tell me how many gallons of water that is? Thank goodness we had irrigation. I don't want to know what our orchards would have looked like with out it. So to increase our irrigation capacity to accomodate the growing farm we hooked in another well to our irrigation system which will add 25gal/min to our capacity. The only problem is everytime we run that well our neighbors' well goes dry! (oops) We are going to have to find a solution to that problem!!
2010 was a great season! Actually our best yet as far as total farm sales. This site and this soil constitute the two key ingredients for a great place to grow fruit. I am looking forward to the 2011 season already! The challenges will surely be different than those of the 2010 season.