Orchards

The pruning season is now with us once again!

I began a renovation programme at this orchard in North Wales last year and returned recently to begin the second year’s pruning.

I didn’t take my camera last year but this orchard was very overgrown with young native trees intertwining amongst the apples,  pears and damsons.

I removed the regenerating growth and carried out some pruning on the fruit trees, removing up to 30% of the existing canopy.

Upon my return I noticed the trees havn’t put on much regrowth, suggesting the trees have little vigour left (or maye I didn’t prune them hard enough!?)

They do however look a lot better for having a thinner canopy. The orchard looks and feels more like an orchard rather than a woodland.

Above is a Beauty of  Bath, one of the densest trees in the orchard. The photo above shows the tree before I pruned it this season.

Below shows the tree after this years pruning.

It still has a few years pruning to go before a decent open canopy is achieved.

One of the trickiest aspects of renovating trees in such a state is being able to put my tools down and leave some pruning for next season.

This tree’s canopy is very high. All the fruit are out of easy picking range and even with some judicious pruning over the next few years I think it will be difficult to encourage branches lower down the tree. (There was no obvious regrowth as a result of last years pruning)

This tree still produces a good crop of fruit and is also a fantastic wildlife habitat.

I have left plenty of dead wood for saproxylic insects, and the holes in the main trunk make a great habitat for bats and birds. All of which I believe are to be encouraged into the orchard environment.

On a course I was taking recently, someone asked me what I thought they sould fill in some holes in their trees with. (I’ve even heard of concrete being used for this purpose!!!???!!!)

I suggested they fill the holes with bats!

Bats are a great way of managing moth pests within the orchard. (Codling moth and Winter moth)

This picture shows a fungus of the Lactarious species (I think!).

The mushrooms form a circle of about 4m diameter. This hasn’t been seen before on this site and is possibly a result of thinning out the damson orchard and allowing sunlight to reach the orchard floor.

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