Superfresh Orchard Update: Episode 52, Looking Ahead

Yakima, WA – This past year was an unusual year in the orchards. Difficult weather during both the bloom and harvest windows in Washington State had many growers worried about the crop. Thankfully, with some help from the beautiful summer weather that our region is known for, the 2022 apple crop ended up with excellent flavors and eating experiences, although the volume was a bit lower than usual.

In the most recent Superfresh Orchard Update, Dave Gleason, Horticulturist and Proprietary Variety Developer catches us up on the latest orchard operations. As Dave Gleason says, “It’s been a little while” since we’ve checked in with him on the trees. Dave is a busy guy, like all farmers, but we were able to spend a few hours with him between the holidays to squeeze in an Orchard Update.

Every year is different when you are working with Mother Nature. This year, many of the apple trees in Washington State still have an abundance of leaves on them. Normally the tree will absorb the nutrients from the leaves in the fall, and as the leaves change colors, they drop from the limbs. Due to a significant drop in temperature over a few days in late fall, the leaves were more-or-less “frozen” to the trees as they were about to release. It is rare and definitely looks a bit weird, but it does not affect the tree or new buds. As temperatures warm up and the tree pushes nutrients into the new buds, the old leaves will fall off and the cycle continues.

Buried in all those leaves are little spurs on each limb that indicate where new buds will form this spring. Gleason explains that by inspecting 

the insides of these spurs, we are able to get a glimpse at the upcoming crop. Armed with his incredibly sharp Benchmade knife and a handy-dandy magnifying glass that was passed down to him by his dad, Dave cuts into the spur and reveals the very early stage of an apple.

While the trees may look dead (especially with all the leaves still) there is certainly life inside of each limb – we think everyone, including the trees, is excited to see the upcoming crop. Here’s to a New Year!