The Farmer and his right hand man, Jake, are busy with the undoing of 12.5 acres of berries. We have 10 acres that are at least 20 years old, and showing it. We have only been doing 5 acres per year, but these are so tired that Randy can’t bear to fiddle with them one year longer. So one 5 acre section will get an extra year to lie fallow – and that won’t hurt it a bit.
As well, we have 2.5 acres of a new variety that we regret planting. They have only produced one year, and they have some nice qualities: nice upright growth habit, large firm fruit and they pick clean. However, they lack the deep color and good flavor of the traditional Meeker variety, our mainstay.
…And, it seems, the block frozen market’s mainstay. As some new varieties come into the market, buyers are specifying that they want Meeker only product. They are dependent on the Meeker flavor and color for their product recipes and don't want to have to re-test, and re-make their system.So our 2.5 acres of experimenting with Cascade Harvest became a real nuisance. It had to be picked separately, and we had to find an order without varietal specs in which to pack it. It required special handling every picking.
We are nothing if not about efficiency here, so they had to go.
Thus the regret – because now we have 12.5 acres of replanting preparation work. Lately, they have cut down the plants tied to the top wire (500 plants per row, 32 rows). Taken the staples out that hold the top wires to the posts, and the wire vices in the end posts. Pulled and rolled up the top wire. Pulled out the side wires and rolled them up. Removed the wraps that hold the suspended drip tape to the wire, and saved all of them...boxes & boxes. Took end posts out of one field and put them in place in the newest planting. Did regular maintenance mowing, and put wires up to highest hook, holding in the canes growing for next years crop.
And that’s not all of it, but you get the idea…
Here you can see the side wires pulled out of the Cascade Harvest.
Wire ready for pick up...and you can see that canes in this row are cut short for the first two post lengths...Because every day for the goats evening feeding, I come out here and cut a large bunch of canes for them to eat. They LOVE them. Raspberries are gourmet to them, and hey! free food. It's a win-win! Oh how they would love to get out into this!
Here are the rows that Jake has cut down. The canes that have fruited are dying down, and because we knew we would be taking these rows out, we did not allow new canes to grow -- less foliage to have to work into the soil. But it's still a lot of volume!
Also this week, Randy hired some of our winter workers in to do the first tie on the baby field. These Meekers were planted at the end of May, and are growing well. To keep them upright and out of the way so that Randy can go through the rows with the tractor without damaging the canes, they were tied up to the top wire, even though they don't reach it yet. This means, as well, that Randy & Jake had to get top wires out in this field, stapled to the posts, and end posts placed so the wires could be tightened for the load. These babies will continue to grow, and will be re-tied later in the Fall.
Last year's Meeker babies have grown beautifully this year, and barring winter damage, should do well next spring.
Bonus for the week! Randy was able to get a whole bunch of manure hauled on the 5 acres that we will plant in the spring. It stinks, but people! it's the circle of life!
The intense pressure of harvest is past, but there is still the pressure of much to accomplish before the fall rains set in. Long days are still the norm for The Farmer. Usually, the sun has set before the work of the day ends. We are thankful for a good week of productivity this week, with room to enjoy the good things that farm life offers.
Author's note: I corrected the amount of plants per row. 500 NOT 1500...oops! Still a lot of plants.