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Winter pruning

 

Back in the autumn, the trees shed their leaves and went into dormancy.  This allows the trees to survive the cold, icy winter without damage to their delicate reproductive tissues because the fruit buds are tightly closed.

 

This is the ideal time for pruning, the job that occupies us for nearly five months every year.  We have two tractor-mounted pruning machines that use giant circular saws to cut and shape the trees. However most of the work is done by hand, using a variety of power-assisted cutting tools to cut through thick branches and reduce repetitive strain injury for the staff.  Working in all weathers, you can see our pruning staff working their way across every orchard as the winter progresses.  They are closely followed by the pulveriser, which chops the cut material into a fine mulch so that tractors can easily pass up the rows.

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Taking just two or three minutes per tree, they certainly make it look easy but pruning is a highly skilled task.  Take out too much and the tree reacts with excessively vigorous growth; take out too little and the crop will be small and poor quality.  The trees are contained to a regulation height in order for the pickers to be able to reach every fruit from the ground, since ladders are considered too dangerous in the modern orchard.

 

As we race through the pruning, we are all hoping for a “Normal” season, not beginning too early and not having any sharp frosts once the trees break their dormancy.

 
 

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