What’s been happening in the Orchard?

4/16/2018 - 10:19:26 AM

Arbor Day is coming up on April 27. In honor of that day, I’d like to share what we’ve been doing with our trees here at Kauffman’s. To see what typically goes on this time of year, let’s open Faith, Family, and Fruit, the book about the Kauffman’s family and business history…

Spring (p. 38)

“While snow still blankets the ground, a new year begins outside in the orchard. Inside, the orchard manager meets with crop consultants to plan pest control strategies for the upcoming growing season, goes over orchard equipment, and prepares for spring tree planting.

As the wintertime apple tree pruning comes to an end, the orchard workers begin pruning peach and plum trees in late February with hopes of finishing by mid-April. After pruning peach, pear, and plum trees, the brush is removed from the orchard and burned to prevent the spread of disease.

In the old days, after an orchard was pruned, workers used pitchforks to “scratch brush” from under the trees into the row middles. Then it was pushed out with the Caterpillar. According to Ben Lapp, scratching brush was the worst job in the orchard because it had to be done by hand. Today, workers clear the brush from each tree immediately after it has been pruned.

As the weather warms up, the trees wake from their long dormancy. The winter store of sap in the roots acts as a nutrient bank from the work of last year’s leaves. As the sap begins to flow, fruit buds that already began to form last summer start to swell with the promise of a new crop.

The rest of the flora and fauna is waking up too. Pests and beneficials alike return or come out of winter hiding. The soil comes back to life, teeming with earthworms and microbes essential for tree life and sustenance. Applying liquid soil drench consisting of living microbes, compost tea, seaweed, kelp, molasses, fish, minerals, and vitamins provides a strong foundation for nutrient production, tree health, disease resistance, and flavorful fruit.”

Tree Planting (p. 40)

“As soon as the ground is ready March and April, new trees are planted. The ground where a new block of trees will be planted has been resting for one to three years and is covered with sorghum-Sudangrass or rapeseed. These crops are plowed under to add nutrients to the soil and mitigate disease.

When the trees arrive from the nursery, they are dormant and bare root. To promote root development and tree establishment in a strange soil, the roots are dipped in a combination of rock powder and several species of mycorrhizal fungi before planting.

The process of planting goes fast with a tree planter; so fast that several thousand trees can be planted in a day. There is a five-year plan that determines which type of apple and peach trees are planted, depending on consumer demand.

Orchard crews now lay aside their pruning shears for shovels. They follow the planter and check to make sure each tree is planted at the proper depth and then they tamp the soil around the trees.”


Isn’t it an amazing privilege to take part in the earth’s maintenance and growth? I asked our Orchard Manager, Clair Kauffman, what part of the property was planted this year. Stay tuned for a future post about where we planted this year and how it went.


Enjoy the day, enjoy the spring, enjoy our earth. All of them are gifts given to us regardless of our behavior. God is merciful and so good.

1 comment
I just wanted to say your Green Tomato Relish, is the best I have ever eaten! God bless your family and green tomato relish!
Christie Lawler
4/16/2018 - 4:01:53 PM
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