A small, but keen group gathered at Barton Orchard on Wednesday 13th November to pick up tips and experience in orchard maintenance and pruning under the guidance of Clive Hester.
When first approached to share his knowledge, Clive was self-declared as someone not comfortable with the role of presenter. However his enthusiasm combined with an unquenchable thirst for research, has after a very few sessions seen him grow into the role. After tea/coffee and biscuits in our hosts’ dining room, a relaxed atmosphere developed as the group settled into a mixture of presentation and discussion. We also viewed a training video on orchard work, with many of the topics very relevant to the old trees in the orchard with their awkward shapes and injuries.
Before lunch we took a stroll through through the orchard to look at some of the different issues the trees have. Then after very amicable chats over our packed lunches we headed out with assorted pruning saws and loppers to put theory into practice.
With the northerly end of the orchard having had quite a lot of attention in past sessions, we concentrated on a few trees which had had less pruning.
With, by now, limited leaf cover it was easy to see how much the trees were suffering from a plethora of crossing, often thin, branches and where these were in fact dead. In particular, we gave attention to one substantial tree which had been uprooted by wind earlier in the year. Though on its side with much of its root system exposed, it still had produced full leaf and a crop this year. Many of the apples would not have been easily reached had it remained in place. Part of the group set about giving it a significant pruning, taking away a couple of large broken branches as well as lots of smaller ones. In its trimmed state, not only does it have a chance of producing a crop in future, but it is also retained as a useful home for all sorts of life forms. And that wouldn’t be the case if it had been cut up and taken away. Well done to the team.