Winter: In January, while the trees are dormant, pruning begins. Limbs are sawed off and clipped to allow maximum sunlight into the growing structure. Pruning allows the tree to produce larger, better colored, higher quality and more valuable fruit. Equipment repairs and maintenance occupies the days too cold or stormy to be outdoors, through the winter months of February and March.
Spring: April is the time to prepare for spring planting. The average tree will bear fruit in 3 years, with full production coming in 8-10 years. Most apple trees planted today are on dwarf stock, allowing for more efficient use of valuable land and labor. If Newton sat under one of these small wonders, the lesson of gravity would have been easier to learn. Since apples do not grow true to their seeds, young trees that have been grown in a nursery from cuttings are transplanted to the orchard site. These trees have a desired fruit variety grafted (attached by tissue splicing) on to a root-stock selected for characteristics of size and vigor. Sometime around the beginning of May, the buds begin to swell. Spring is near and the pace of the farm quickens. The brush from pruning is picked up or mulched back into the orchard soil. Grass that has grown tall is mowed to reduce competition for nutrients and habitat for pests. Growers using Integrated Pest management (IPM) start monitoring the weather while hanging various insect traps to collect data for an annual spray program. Temperature, humidity, and rainfall are recorded in orchard weather stations to predict disease outbreaks and identify effective management tools. Both harmful and beneficial insects are counted to determine spray schedules. Spraying is done only when needed to protect the tree and fruit.