Harvest season is upon us, and we started juicing on September 20. A bit earlier than usual, but as everyone knows, this summer was a warm one.
1. The bees are the real MVPs
It was an excellent year for the fruit at the farm. The bees were healthy and active which meant a good fertilization of the apple blossoms. A good blossom results in a good fruit set.
We have several hives here at the farm and our bees are an essential part of the operation. We also collect, use, and sell the apple blossom honey from our property.
2. No rain, no problem
We had a relatively normal spring leading into a hot summer, but the lack of rain was not as much of an issue as many may think. In fact, we have found that the addition of water to ripening fruit during the summer serves to dilute the juice, so we intentionally don’t irrigate. We want concentrated flavours for our cider.
3. Fruits of our labour
Here at Merridale, we do a selective and somewhat labour-intensive harvest program. It basically comes down to… if it’s not ripe, don’t pick it.
Many fruit growers will sample a few pieces of fruit to determine ripeness and then harvest a whole section or variety at once. We believe that not every apple on a tree fully ripens at the same time. Exposure and other elements impact the process. Some apples on the same tree might ripen a week or more before others on that same tree. And if it’s not ripe, we won’t pick it. Instead we wait, patiently.
It isn’t unheard of for us to return to the same tree two or three times over the course of a couple of weeks. This ensures that we only press fully-developed fruit.
Pressing News: We invite you to join us to observe the pressing of our apples!
We’ll be pressing our apples over the coming weeks (end of September through October) and we invite you to come and watch as the process unfolds. We don’t press every day, but we’ll do our best to post on Facebook and Instagram at least a day or two in advance so you can plan to come to the farm if you’d like to.
We know it will be an interesting vintage this year and we are excited about it. We hope you are, too!