As apple harvest of the larger volume varieties 'takes off' The English Apple Man visits Adrian Scripps Ltd where 7 new REVO harvesting rigs were moving smoothly across an orchard of Jugala.
In last week's Journal The English Apple Man reported the sad passing of Roger Worraker.
Roger's sons James and Jonathan wish to let his many friends know that a Memorial Service to celebrate Roger's life will be held on Saturday 16th October at 2.30pm at:
St Thomas A Becket Church - Church Lane , Capel , Five Oak Green, Tonbridge TN12 6SX
On Monday The English Apple Man had the privilege of visiting one of Adrian Scripps Ltd orchards where harvesting Gala was taking place with seven new REVO harvest picking rigs steadily moving through a block of JUGALA.
Jugala is an outstanding early selection of Imperial Gala. With the young 'Gala One' sport harvested last week, farm manager Mihai Stanca was overseeing the harvest of Jugala. These two Gala sports allow an earlier start to Gala harvest before the standard sports of Gala get underway.
Below: Picking Gala - how it used to be (and still is in many cases)
Over the last couple of Decades, harvesting in the UK has gradually changed from individual pickers gathering the apples in a picking bucket before placing in a bulk bin. The next step forward was 'picking trains' where a train of bulk bins moved down an alleyway with pickers placing the apples collectively in the bins. This was a much smoother system and easier to police quality, but not popular with fast pickers who often felt they were 'carrying' some of the slower members of the team.
Harvest rigs have been operating on the continent for several decades, but have been slow to establish here!
Discussing the 'pro's and 'con's of harvest rigs with Mihai Stanca on Monday, the success of harvest rigs relies very much on creating harmonious teams of six on each rig. Matching team members with each other, aiming to avoid any ill feeling is important. Watching the seven harvest rigs moving across the orchard, one was well ahead of the 'pack' while the second not far behind. The remainder in close proximity to each other.
The benefit for the older pickers (one was in his sixties) is the less physical operation with no heavy picking buckets to carry all day.
Below: left; the REVO's moving from one block to another and right; rear view as the bins depart onto the alleyway
Hail is always a danger during the summer months, as our apples grow from tiny fruitlets into the mature apples we are now harvesting in September. Different systems have been used to combat the 'surprise hail storm' and in this block of Gala at Adrian Scripps a novel system 'envelopes the row' - the hail net stays on when orchard spraying is required, with the spray penetrating the net.
Below: left; The Gala rows with hail net in place throughout the growing season, are rolled up at point of harvest
My friend Colin Bird and one of the Agronomists who regularly 'keeps me abreast' of what's happening on the fruit farms in Kent has embraced TIK TOK and produced many aspects of orchard life during the growing season. Below two Tik Tok videos from Colin's collection filmed on Monday while I was present.
Click on: Video of REVO harvesting Gala at Adrian Scripps Lt on Monday 20th September
Extracts from: Maturity Newsletter 23rd September 2021 from my Agronomist friend Nigel Jenner
The warm daytime temperatures over the past week, combined with the recent cold nights, have
been ideal conditions for fruit ripening and this has affected all varieties. However, on a positive
note, the 10°C difference between day and night time temperatures is having an extremely
positive influence on the development of red colour, which is changing on a daily basis.
The English Apple Man comments: the contrast between 'day / night' temperatures is the key driver for Bi-Coloured varieties achieving good red colour!
Next week the weather looks like being a lot more unsettled, so be sure to make the most of the good weather while it lasts!
Streif indices in both West Kent and Wisbech are now at 0.7, the point at which harvesting
should be finished. In East Kent this will be reached within the next couple of days. Any fruit
still to be harvested should not be stored longer than a few weeks.
Maturity measurements carried out on Cox this week can be summarized as follows:-
Over the past week pressures have plummeted by 1kg in both East and West Kent and starches
have dropped by 20%. This is a clear sign that fruit is maturing rapidly and any fruit still being
harvested will only be suitable for short term storage (marketed by end November at the latest).
Maturity measurements carried out on Gala this week can be summarized as follows:-
Gala maturity is now very comparable with the same date last year!!
Picking should now be underway on all sites. By the end of this week all sites will be at or
below 70% starch
Fruit harvested from next week is likely to be marketed sooner and with this the benefits of faster
cooling are likely to outweigh the risk of any internal disorders developing in store.
Rubens - harvesting should begin next week.
Cabaret - end of next week/beginning of following week
Cameo - looks likely to be w/c 4th October
Braeburn - Starch just starting to convert. More info next week!
The EAM comments: In the industry we always emphasise the importance of picking in the 'harvest windows' appropriate for the variety and the projected storage period. The critical element is when we finish! It's ok to start after the indicated starting point, but vital to finish harvest while the fruit still has the capability to store until the planned marketing period. Of course, the quality of the storage regime is integral to the outcome!
That is all for this week
The English Apple Man