A second consecutive dry Autumn is almost behind us. The damaging rains of the early  weeks of August have been long  forgotten by many already. The dry land which featured until late May, hopefully won’t be repeated for a few years.

We are romping through the apple varieties as, from before picking ripening has accelerated much faster than we have ever known, (…and that is a few years!) .

The hot dry summer of 1976 was characterised by the complete  lack of rainfall until late September. 2017 has been an example of how abundant rainfall associated with hot days during June and July, in particular, aided the rapid intial  cell division within the fruitlet and later caused any cell to expand rapidly. Unfortuneately this does not benefit  the long term quality of the fruit.

While the apples were growing so were the trees. Some cautious pruning will be required this winter to retain a balanced tree.

Why does this man need rain now?

For optimum results at flowering time, when we hope the bees oblige, an abundant availability of moisture for the tree’s root system is essential  – an essentiality which was lacking during April and May 2017.  The land is like a savings account – it needs a regular  top up !

Don’t forget Medlars – some are nicely bletted already! Plenty of hard ones left for sending out still.

 

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Like all of our fruit this season , the Medlars are being picked much earlier than usual.

They are showing the tell tale signs of the the early stages of bletting.

As they become soft, through the bletting process, it is not practical for sending them afar otherwise a squishy boxfull will result .

I f you are hoping for Medlars this season please be in touch in good time.

The anticipated picking dates mentioned in  previous posts have rather ‘gone out of the window’ during September as the earlier vagaries of  week to week growing conditions have all combined to accelerate the ripening of fruit.

Back in 1976 we had scorched apples that were small and hard as no rain fell here for many weeks. Forward to 2017 and another very hot June but the difference being that much rainfall followed. Some scorched apples, yes. Small fruit , no. The considerable rainfall during August , far beyond our usual here in Essex has had  an effect on some varieties.

The first week of October will see almost the end of apple picking here except for a few D’arcy Spice and Sturmer Pippin. Even these will have been challenged and their usual long keeping very unlikely.

We will have our annual display of apples here on Saturday 21st and again Saturday 28th October. Should you have any apples to identify, then bring them along for an opinion! An intact stalk is particularly important.

See you then!

A plan has now been made on the basis of the Ribston Pippin having been gathered on 7th September – just one week ahead of  the long term average date here.

To follow, now are Sunset and Red Ellison, then Cox, Egremont Russet, Michaelmas Red and Lobo. Our Kidd’s Orange Red will need picking about 26th September. These, in particular, have a habit of not holding to the tree. When the day arrives, all hands focus on making sure of them!

We are short of the smaller sized fruits this season.The Laxton’s Fortune have been a handful each, with the Red Ellison also fairly mighty.

Some apples are sporting a toasted appearance, usually a speckling of dots on the more exposed skin. These are the damaged lenticels (breathing holes) . To begin with this just affects the peel. With some varieties, in time more deterioration occurs, whilst those with a thicker peel are more resilient.

Those of you in the vicinity of Flatford Mill on 24th September might enjoy a visit to the Wildlife Garden, where two local fruit growers will be present. I shall be attempting the identification of apples.

Another event at which I will be present in the same capacity is at Copped Hall near Epping on 8th October.

If you are bringing apples to be identified, try to ensure that the stalks are present.

There is growing concern about the future of imported vegetable, salad, and fruit crops, let alone how the home grown crops will be grown, harvested and processed. Several spaces to be watched during the next few years!

Usually the weather has the last word on matters such as these

After the ups and downs since the beginning of Spring, it is good to start planning into mid Autumn.

It now looks likely that our Ribston Pippin will be picked before 14th September.

After our Bank holiday next week, both Laxton’s Fortune and Worcester Pearmain will be available, quickly joined by St Edmund’s Russet. Our Arthur Turner began earlier this month and will be available into October.

Further ahead, both the Blenheim Orange and the Orleans Reinette have another few weeks to develop colour and flavour.

The very few quince here are all reserved!

If the Medlars behave as all other fruit, then an early bletting can be expected in November. Very ripe medlars will not travel. Please make contact with us in good time if you are searching for them. Available in 6, 14, or 20lb packs, as for the apples, to be couriered further afield. Alternatively, smaller quantities are available at the farm. (Monday to Saturday inclusive 8am to 5pm)

August has arrived and the trees are flaunting their colouring apples to tempt our taste buds. Don’t forget that they will be in for a shock if some basic princples are not followed first.

An apple is ready to be picked from the tree when one’s cupped hand (minus lengthy fingernails) can, with a gentle twist remove its prey with the stalk intact. A box of apples displaying fruits which have missing or broken stalks or spurs and leaves still attached indicates, either that they were not sufficiently ripe to consider picking or the picker had no idea of the damage they caused by rough picking. Such apples are best given a miss.

Apples harvested before mid September are usually for immediate eating and not known for their keeping. Currently we are studying our Discovery, which from a distance look beautifully red amongst the green leaves. Closer inspection reveals two clues as to their ripness, or otherwise.

The photograph shows some on the tree but looking closely the area around the eye is still green. Whilst a millimetre or two below the skin  may have sweetened the core of the apple is still rather tart. Once the eye is embedded in red then a good experience can be predicted.

The second photograph shows a red coloured apple , Discovery, as the first, the skin is darkened and sunk caused by hot sun earlier in July. Below the skin will be soft decaying tissue as  some fruits  in the full sun, and with abundant moisture from below, have been semi cooked. Discovery and Worcester Pearmain seem the most susceptible here but in a weeks time they will show up easily and won’t be entering the food chain!

Our Victoria plums are just beginning, though their ripening on the trees has slowed considerably during late July as some more acceptable temperatures have returned.

P_20170801_162133dis.jpgP_20170801_162239disc.jpg

Well let’s get to the point. We are on track for our first enjoyable  Discovery around the 14th August. They will improve still more by the 21st!

 

P_20160425_121802_001For some, maybe.

Our fruit trees have other ideas as they react to the abundant moisture, very warm days and nights, and maximum sunshine hours most days since blossom. A cooler end to July is to be welcomed, though, unusually, we are not desperate for rain!

The first apples and earliest of plums are to be found at Crapes Monday – Saturday 8am until dusk along with carrots, beetroot, courgettes, cabbage and soon, tomatoes.

The first packs of Crimson Beauty of Bath and plums have already arrived in Rothshire, Torquay and Derbyshire. An overnight service provided by  APC  through our local depot, Tendring Express enables a safe passage within a 99% recyclable pack (sealing tape and the address label make the missing 1%)

Our packs are available in a range of sizes and we can send anything we grow – perhaps with the exception of onions !

Contact email:  tannandrew@gmail.com