Pruning Dead Trees

fullsizeoutput_2a5fThis winter we have lost perhaps 70% of our remaining apple trees.  We started with 150 sixteen years ago when we enrolled in the apple program at the University of Saskatchewan to field test their prospective varieties.  Our climate is good for these.  There is no disease here and few insect threats that are easily manageable.  But over the years the mice have been devastating.  Over winter they burrow under the snow and girdle the trees.  We have tried everything to deter them: sprays, wraps, nets.  But in the end they have all proven futile.  I trimmed the remaining trees yesterday, knowing full well that most of my work would be in vain once they start to show their viability.  But the mice and the trees are not my concern; my faithfulness to my work is my concern.  It is not about results; it is about care.  I had a great day.

I went on to continue major trimming in our haskap orchard.  Now this is a truly northern fruit that is resistant to every predation imaginable, including mice.  Every several years these bushes need a radical pruning.  Our original orchard was started in 2007.  The plants in the original portion of the orchard were planted in 2008.  They are about five years overdue for cutting.  I will not remove all of them this year, but I will cut off at ground level several entire rows, and will selectively trim bushes in many other rows.  In the end I will remove perhaps 400 bushes.  It is arduous work.

Cutting these bushes off at ground level sounds radical, but once established haskap regenerates faster than most people can conceive.  The plants in the pictures below were entirely cut off last spring and some of them are now nearly as large as the untrimmed plants next to them, and will bear fruit in a couple of weeks.