"For eight years now we have been conducting certified organic apple research here at the farm," said Terry Bradshaw, a research specialist for the UVM Apple Team.
Those years of research have resulted in an organic apple orchard. The trees were planted just two years ago. It is called a tall spindle system. The trees are grown close together on a wire support system. The trees don't have to grow big trunks to hold them up, so they can put all their energy into producing fruit.
"Organic production is a very, very small part of not just Vermont orchards but really anything east of the Mississippi certainly less than one percent of the acreage and total value of the crop," Bradshaw said. "And there is always interest in it but it is tricky to do."
The UVM orchard was planted with eight varieties of fruit that are all naturally resistant to apple scab. They carry a gene from crab apples that makes them naturally resistant, so they don't have to be sprayed for that common disease. And without apple scab, they don't need to spray for some of the other pests that come along with that. But some other techniques are used to manage other pests present in the orchard.
By all accounts, Bradshaw says 2013 is a very successful year.
"But I expect a tree with this much fruit planted in the density that they are in this orchard, we probably have about 300 bushels per acre in here. The statewide average for a mature orchard is 375 and these are only two years old, so the production capacity of this orchard is just tremendous," he said.
Bradshaw says this work being done at the Hort farm will translate into systems that growers can use and be economically successful in growing organic apples. While people who grow apples of course are very interested in the work that Bradshaw and his crew are doing, there is another business that is extremely interested in the organic apple crop. The expanding hard cider market is interested in this type of growing system, not necessarily because it is organic, but because of the reduced production costs. These trees are much easier to pick, saving producers time and money.
"I know there is significant demand for hundreds of thousands of gallons of Vermont juice just to fill that market this year," Bradshaw said. "And these types of orchards can help meet that demand."
In the meantime, volunteers will help pick the apples so researchers can study the fruit and make plans for improving the crop for next year.
Monday, March 10 2014 10:24 PM EDT2014-03-11 02:24:17 GMT
New leadership is on the way to Goddard College. The board of trustees voted unanimously to hire Robert Kenny as interim president. The native Vermonter is returning to the Plainfield campus after servingMore >>
New leadership is on the way to Goddard College. The board of trustees voted unanimously to hire Robert Kenny as interim president. More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 10:21 PM EDT2014-03-11 02:21:04 GMT
Vermont State Police received two complaints about a man claiming to be an employee with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department. Authorities say the scammer told victims that they had missed juryMore >>
Vermont State Police received two complaints about a man claiming to be an employee with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 10:03 PM EDT2014-03-11 02:03:06 GMT
Police say an 11-year-old girl was walking from the Post Office near Chelsea Street Monday afternoon when an older man started following her. The suspect was in a dirty dark green pickup truck with unknownMore >>
Police say an 11-year-old girl was walking from the Post Office near Chelsea Street Monday afternoon when an older man started following her. More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 8:28 PM EDT2014-03-11 00:28:25 GMT
When Johanne Durocher Yordan looks at maps, she knows she's moving in the right direction. "I appreciate maps they're beautiful the legends the street name sections," said Johanne. Johanne gets inspiredMore >>
When Johanne Durocher Yordan looks at maps, she knows she's moving in the right direction.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 8:12 PM EDT2014-03-11 00:12:57 GMT
Many skiers have a mountain which they consider to be their home base -- their 'go to'. "It's my favorite place to ski. I've been skiing here for 25 years," said Alison Montgomery of Montreal.For MontgomeryMore >>
While some of us are looking forward to spring, diehard skiers aren't willing to give up on winter just yet, especially with the snowy forecast. Nick Borelli takes us to Smuggs.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 7:48 PM EDT2014-03-10 23:48:11 GMT
With the long cold winter and the price of fuel going up, heating with wood is looking pretty good. But new emission rules on the horizon could mean pricier wood-burning stoves. Hearthstone has beenMore >>
New emission rules on the horizon could mean pricier wood-burning stoves.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 7:46 PM EDT2014-03-10 23:46:27 GMT
Nate Beatty hasn't even received his degree in the mail yet but he and his partner, Shane Scranton, are already pushing a product they developed while still in school. They say it will transform the worldMore >>
Two recent Middlebury College grads are on a mission to change the way architects view space.More >>
Monday, March 10 2014 7:42 PM EDT2014-03-10 23:42:52 GMT
Governor Peter Shumlin's full single-payer financing plan is due January 1 of next year, but legislators leave Montpelier in May most years -- so some have called for a glimpse at the possible taxes theMore >>
Vermont lawmakers may not get a menu of tax options to pay for single-payer before they leave Montpelier this year.