With the official start of spring only a week away, we got to work this week giving the apple orchards their annual pruning. Ramon has been hard at work and has all the trees surrounding the nectar garden, stage, and back side of the winery road all done…on to the back orchard!
We always get a few calls every year with all kinds of questions about care and pruning of apple. Many inherit an old tree on their property that has been neglected, so here’s a brief guide to keep you on track. Remember that apples will grow on wood produced the previous year, so always leave around 50% of the previous year’s growth–you can always go back and trim more off if necessary, but you can’t put a branch back on. Wise words right?
Old neglected tree
Prune newly planted young trees immediately after planting. Cut off any side shoots and trim the tree to 24 to 30 inches tall in order to promote low-growing branches. Do most of the pruning for apple trees during the dormant season when the leaves have fallen off for the winter. We prune every mid to late March after the coldest winter days and before and new foliage begins to show.
In order to get fruit to grow abundantly on the lower branches, focus thinning out branches towards the top of the tree. Trimming towards the top of the tree allows sunlight to reach the lower branches, helping fruit production. It is also important to thin out the center, or scaffold, branches so that they are not overly crowded so sunlight and air penetrates the center of the tree. This allows foliage to dry and helps reduce disease pressure. It is also important to prune branches that cross and rub on each other.
Making Cuts and Removing Larger Branches
To prevent apple tree diseases, use sterilized tools to trim trees. A diluted bleach or alcohol solution will kill harmful fungal spores or bacteria. Make trimming cuts just above buds without leaving stubs behind, this will encourage the correct kind of future new growth. It is also important to avoid flesh cuts on remaining branches. When removing a branch or twig, leave the collar around the base of the branch rather than cutting into the branch or trunk from which it grows. Roughly a 1/4″ collar left where the branch connections to trunk will allow for a new branch to form.
Branches to Remove
Apple trees produce abundant fruit on new branches for several years, and they produce less fruit on old branches. Therefore, it is helpful to trim old branches once their fruit growth slows down. It is also helpful to remove diseased, damaged or dead branches. Ideally, branches grow at an upward 60-degree angle from the trunk. Prune branches that grow dramatically upwards or that hang down too much. These types of branches are often prone to splitting or breaking later on, especially in bad weather when laden with fruit.
Pruned and Rejuvenated
Our friends next door have been baking pies non-stop for years, but Greendance is proud to say we had a wedding cake made right in our Winery Lab! On any given Saturday and Sunday it would not be surprising to see mountains of cookies, linens, boxes of reserved wines, even the occasional bride and bride’s maid doing a quick change in the back Lab of the winery. However, one recent Friday a new wedding surprised awaited us. The sound of a mixer whipping up icing carried through the tasting room as a wedding cake was being made from scratch–a surprising first for a Greendance wedding! Baking enthusiast and close friend to the bride and groom, Alison Skaggs traveled from Virginia for her friends’ wedding and crafted the cake for her dearest friends right on site.
Royal blue ribbon and fresh-cut wild flowers adorned the strawberry cream cake, an elegant design. The cake was prominently displayed on the winery counter for all guests to see during the reception…so to answer the question we are sure you have had lingering on your mind the whole time, yes the cake was delicious!
Do you have fond memories of visiting Greendance Winery? Perhaps you were married at the winery, or you celebrated an anniversary here, or just kicked back and enjoyed a bottle of wine on a sunny, summer afternoon? Share your story in 250-words or less as a comment here on our blog or on our Facebook page – we’ll read your entry, and three winners will be selected. Contest will run through to the end of July! Here’s what you’ll win:
First Place Winner:
- A wine and cheese basket from Greendance Winery, featuring 3 of our award-winning wines and gourmet delights
- Dinner for two at Nino’s Restaurant in the beautiful Laurel Highlands
- A complimentary Thursday night stay at Holiday Inn Express in Mt. Pleasant
Second Place Winner:
- A wine and cheese basket from Greendance Winery, featuring 2 of our award-winning wines and gourmet delights
- A personal tour of Greendance and Sand Hill Berries, and a complimentary fruit pie made right on our farm
Third Place Winner:
- A wine and cheese basket from Greendance Winery, featuring a bottle of our award-winning wine and gourmet delights
Greendance has branched out with our third satellite store now open along Route 31 in Donegal, PA! The new store is located next to Rustic Lodge Furniture and across the street from the Country Pie Shoppe. We held a private grand-opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday evening for everyone at Greendance and our friends. Out of the Fire Café catered some great platters of hummus, fruits, cheeses, and bruschetta with perfectly thin crostini; while winery partner Amy made ceviche (which we will be serving in the Café this summer on our Friday late nights!).
The sunset filled the sky with spectacular reds and orange while we all got to relax, talk, and just enjoy the warm evening with one another. The Zinfandel paired perfectly with the night. Debbie rang up Kathy Valkovic, who made the first purchase at the store that very night. A big thank-you to all our friends who came and celebrated with us, cheers to new sales! Store hours are Monday, Thursday-Sunday 12-8pm, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Concord 2011 is bottled in time for the holiday weekend. Be sure to stop by the Winery Saturday, Sunday and Memorial Day Monday for grilled burger platters (12-3pm), sandwiches, strawberry shortcake, and other delicious gourmet goodies. Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day Weekend!