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Posted 7/24/2010 11:03am by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

Spraying Apple Trees

More than once people who have come to our farm have said “so you don’t spray, right?”  I reply “no, we do spray.”  This response is not what they are expecting and frequently I see the customer become uneasy until I explain.  We spray our orchards, however we spray with organic materials.  Before we spray a material we need to contact our certifier (Pennsylvania Certified Organic) to make sure that the material is okay to use.  Pennsylvania Certified Organic is an accredited organic certifier of the USDA. 

We spray nutrients on the tree to boost the health and immunity of the tree, which can be likened to us taking vitamins or eating healthy foods.  In addition, we spray materials only on an as needed basis to maintain a handle on the numerous diseases and insects that threaten the apple crop.  This being said, the vast majority of the materials that we use degrade very rapidly in the presence of heat and/or UV rays of the sun.  This means that we must apply the material at the precise time that control is needed, or else the material will not be effective because it does not persist in the environment for a lengthy period of time.  

I could continue to discuss spraying for awhile, but maybe I’ll stop for now and let you ponder on my thoughts.  We do spray, but what we do spray always needs to be approved.  The goal is that we are producing nutrient-dense apples that are free of undesirable materials and are healthy for you!

Sara

Posted 7/16/2010 10:03am by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

Gearld Fry

We have been busy yet again this week.  Amongst other activities, we worked on building more fence to move our cattle, welcomed a bull to our farm, and welcomed Gearld Fry to our farm.

Gearld Fry is from Rose Bud, Arkansas and is an author, speaker, and consultant.  He is the founder of the American Herbataurus Society

Also this week, we received just over an inch of rain.  Things are starting to grow again!

Posted 7/10/2010 6:14am by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

Putting Rye in Gravity Wagon

This week we were busy with several different projects, the main one being getting ready to harvest the rye.  We planted rye last fall as a cover crop.

What is a cover crop?  It would take awhile to explain cover crops in detail, however a quick description can be given.  According to the Managing Cover Crops Profitably book, cover crops can cut fertilizer costs, fight weeds and insect pests, improve yields by enhancing soil health, prevent soil erosion, conserve soil moisture, and protect water quality.  Rye is an example of a cover crop and is known to scavenge excess nitrogen, prevent erosion, add organic matter to the soil, and suppress weeds.  Most people do not harvest the rye, however we decided to harvest the grain to sell as organic seed.  It was pretty neat because Mary Ann's cousin Wayne combined the rye and we had a seed cleaner come to clean and bag the seed on our farm. 

Posted 7/2/2010 11:41am by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

Today we are busy doing a variety of things.  This includes weeding.  Since we do not use herbicides, weeds can be a time consuming pest to keep in check.  We have been working on pulling weeds around the little trees. This helps to keep the damage from mice/voles in check and helps lessen the competition between weeds and the tree roots for nutrients and water. 

Happy 4th of July!

Sara

Posted 6/25/2010 12:46pm by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

Golden Supreme

It's almost July and it sure feels like it outside!  The high here yesterday was 93.  We've been looking at the weather forecast several times per day to have a handle on when it's going to rain (or supposed to).  We are getting pretty dry and need the rain so everything continues to grow!

This is a picture of one of our Golden Supreme apples.  Not all of the apples are perfect like this one, but some of them are!  Even though this apple still needs 10 weeks to mature, I think it looks good enough to snack on right now!  Golden Supreme is currently our first apple to mature, which is around the first week of September. 

I also put a picture of a Sansa apple in the gallery/slideshow.  I was looking at some of the apples in our newer orchard and thought it looked picture perfect!  The apple and peach trees we planted in 2008 and 2009 have a few fruit on them this year.  There isn't a whole lot, but I'll let you know if we have enough to offer for sale.

Sara

Posted 6/21/2010 9:45am by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

Certified Organic Dry Hay

We have been busy making dry hay.  This means that we now have certified organic dry hay for sale!  It is first cutting orchard grass/alfalfa.  As you can see in the picture, they are big round bales.  Please call us at 717-677-8411 for more details if you are interested in our organic dry hay.

 

Posted 6/18/2010 3:31pm by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

Making Dry Hay

We've been busy as usual here on the farm.  Jacob mowed down hay yesterday and today (see picture above) to bale into big round bales.  He is also busy getting ready to get married. 

We are still hand thinning apples as well as peaches.  We were building more fence earlier this week.  We move the cattle often so that they have fresh grass to eat.  Some of the cows and calves come drink out of the hose when I am filling up the water; I am hoping to get a picture of it sometime.  Our farm cat is also busy...she's taking care of 5 kittens that were born early last week.  Check the gallery for a cute picture of one of them.  It's time to go move the cattle!

Sara

Posted 6/11/2010 6:38pm by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

It is easy to visit the grocery store and sort through the fresh fruits and vegetables until finding the perfect piece of produce.  I am admittedly guilty of doing this when grocery shopping.  I enjoy watching insects and learning about them (although I do not like being bitten by them!).  When I am at the grocery store and see damaged produce, I do not always know what caused it.  This brings out my curious side. 

Based on my own experience from our orchards, working at Penn State's Fruit Research and Extension Center for a summer internship, and help from Penn State's and West Virginia's websites, I came up with a list of insects which can and frequently do cause direct damage to apples.  Here it goes...codling moth, european apple sawfly, rosy apple aphid, obliquebanded leafroller, oriental fruit moth, plum curculio, tarnished plant bug, tufted apple bud moth, lesser appleworm, redbanded leafroller, speckled green fruitworm, apple maggot, and variegated leafroller.  That comes to a total of 13 different insects which cause damage to apples.   Some of these insects such as codling moth and oriental fruit moth repoduce several times during the growing season. 

In addition to direct pests, there are indirect pests of apples.  These pests attack the leaves or the bark/wood/roots of the tree.  These insects include leafhoppers, wooly apple aphids, other kinds of aphids, dogwood borers, european red mites, gypsy moths, japanese beetles, and spotted tentiform leafminers.  Some insects such as the obliquebanded leafroller eat leaves and can damage fruit, so it causes two types of damage.

I hope that you found this blog to be interesting; I like learning about and talking about insects.  I thought you might be interested in knowing that it isn't exactly very easy to grow apples when you have lots of different insects chomping at the bit to attack your trees and your fruit.  If you are curious like me, you can search for pictures of these insects so you can identify what the damage they cause looks like. 

 

Sara

Posted 5/27/2010 7:55pm by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

Our Cattle

Our cattle arrived early last Thursday morning.  We now have 11 cows and 11 calves.  As you can see, they are quite content and happy in their new home.  It's pretty neat to watch them move through the pasture, chomping away!  There is one cow who is really firendly and enjoys her neck being rubbed.  I uploaded two other pictures in the gallery that you might like to look at. 

Sara

Posted 5/14/2010 12:20pm by Bill Oyler, Mary Ann Oyler, Sara Baldwin, Jacob Oyler, Katrina Oyler.

Building Fence

We are busy building fence in anticipation of the arrival of the cattle we purchased.  In this picture, Bill and Jacob are using the skidloader and post driver to put in a fence post.  The cattle should be chowing down on our lush forage by the end of next week.  We are excited about this addition to our farm!

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