The apple trees are loaded at the Historic Buckner Orchard in Stehekin. After a long and snowy winter, the orchard has burst forth in an incredible bloom and a heavy set of fruit.
Warm apple pies, an abundance of applesauce, amazing cider, and the tantalizing taste of the historic apple varieties like Common Delicious, Rome Beauties, and Winesaps will be greatly limited if we don’t do the work now.
To ensure an abundant and quality crop, apples must be thinned in June and July. This labor-intensive work involves removing an excess of apples, breaking up clusters, spacing, and eliminating already damaged young apples. The Buckner Orchard is naturally organic and sprays are not used for this purpose as with commercial orchards elsewhere.
With an overabundant set and our June work party limited by weather and other factors, it is important to get out there now, while the apples remain small. Those trees within the two fenced areas are in need of thinning; those not fenced will be stripped of all apples, as they are each year, so as to prevent bear damage to the historic trees. Your help is needed if we are to enjoy the “fruits of our labor” in the fall!
- Experienced Thinners – If you have thinned at the Orchard previously, you know what to do, and can do so at your convenience. Remember to leave the stems.
- Novice Thinners – Laurie will be returning to the Orchard on July 1. Check in with her as to the how and where.
Benefits – There are a number of benefits to thinning apples.
- Once you thin the apples, the remaining fruit have more space to grow, so you get bigger apples. And, with smaller apples, the core is a larger proportion of the apple.
- More space leads to more air circulation and sunlight, which in turn leads to better fruit flavor and color.
- A common reason for fruit rot on the tree is because the fruits are touching each other closely. The decay occurs where they touch, because the skin couldn’t breathe. Thinning reduces the chances of this occurring.
- Less chance of damage to the tree due to overburdened, broken limbs.
- Since the tree can now support the smaller number of fruits, it is not overburdened with supplying nutrition to the fruits.
- An over-production of apples one year can negatively impact the production of fruit the following year in some varieties.
How to Thin – Clicking on the Common Delicious photo below, you can view a very good, short video on how to thin. Though the video does focus on a specific variety of apple, the principles are the same.
The Buckner Homestead and Orchard is a National Park Service site located in Stehekin, Washington,
within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.
(Courtesy of Buckner Orchard)