For around forty years, the provincial government has been financially supporting this method of apple growing. Looks pretty modern and efficient, doesn’t it!
It’s very seductive. Bankers and government officials love it. Dwarf trees. High capital input, almost no labour, and no skill. Very techno-savvy. Much like a robotic automobile assembly line.
The trees might need support so they don’t fall down, but that’s easy. Yeah, sure, there are sap restrictions and flow problems, but, hey, you can control those by pumping more water and fertilizer through the stalks, using a heavily pruned top to pump water out of the roots.
Yeah, you get a lot of shade, which is bad for apple quality…
…, but you can train your Mexican workers in five minutes to lop away at that stuff two weeks before harvest and let the sun in, right?
Right. Very efficient. But let’s have a closer look. How many fruit buds do you see in this bearing space, about 20% of the tree’s space? Hint: they’re the big fat buds. What? 10?
And look at how they all hang down.
Argue how you will, apples grow best on shoots above the vertical: they have the highest sugar, the highest nutritional value, the richest flavour, the fewest diseases, and the most even ripening. This method of farming produces lousy apples. Not only that, but all this summer pruning is creating beautiful immature wood, poorly suited to get through a winter.
The upper-tree branch below shows how much good potential can be created by summer pruning… all wasted because this branch is not a part of the structural or bearing potential of the tree and must be removed.
In fact, to grow decent apples, all of this stuff has to be cut off.
And all of this, too.
How much longer are we going to subsidize poor growing practices with cash injections, rather than teaching “farmers” how to farm?
How much longer can we afford to damage our bodies, our society, and our land in this way?