4 Dec 2023
As the cold crisp winter days start to creep in here on the farm, my thoughts turn to our 60,000 Bramley trees and how hard they have worked this year to deliver a fantastic crop of Bramley apples yet again. Much like us after having a busy few months at work, they need a bit of pampering.
So, the first thing is to walk around the farm and visit each orchard with my team of brilliant pruners and discuss the needs of each orchard individually as every year can be different – what has the orchard done, the size and quality of the apple, so if the orchard delivered small apples, we know to take more wood out from the tree etc.
We then start the task of hand pruning each and every tree on the farm, we start with the 3 Ds – dead, damaged & diseased.
After having tendered to these, we then lift the branches of the trees away from the ground to prevent any fruit in the summer reaching the ground, and also to stop the rabbits eating the branches if we get any substantial snow fall in the winter months.
What is vitally important is not just the short-term maintenance, but preparation for the long-term.
The next step of the process is to assess every tree and select the right pieces of wood which when removed, will allow the sunlight in. Just like us we all like sitting in the sunshine and catching our Vitamin D rays, so do our trees!
Sunshine promotes better bud and growth, which in turn delivers the maximum crop of our beautiful Bramley apples.
Throughout the season the top of the tree grows tall with upright branches we call suckers. During the pruning process, we take out 75% of these, leaving just enough for the sap to be drawn into the Bramley tree to feed every productive branch.
And finally, we then take some of the stronger branches and tuck them in to place at a 35 degree angle, which promotes more productive wood which in turn, bares more fruit.
The farm then starts the long slumber with our trees relaxed but prepared, like a sleeping army ready to swing in to action when the warmer weather arrives.
Swailey Love is the Farm Manager at Puratos Fourayes. With an absolute passion for farming and nature, Swailey brings a fresh and new approach to husbandry of the farm in working with nature. He comes from a farming family, bringing a wealth of experience. Swailey believes that "if you love your job and what you do, it isn't work".