Good Fruit Grower

February 2015

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44 FEBRUARY 1, 2015 Good Fruit Grower Y ou've heard it said that some people can't see the forest for the trees. Well, Rod Farrow believes the fruit growers' challenge is often just the opposite. It's hard to see the trees for the forest. Farrow, who operates 480 acres of apple orchards in Waterport, New York, truly has a forest to manage. It contains 27 apple varieties mostly grown on the super spindle system, with about 2,000 trees per acre, so that's nearly a million trees. Who's got the time to pet and fondle a million individual trees? The key, he says, is uniformity. If all the trees are virtu- ally the same, you can focus on a tree and multiply your efforts by a million. "It's all about having trees with the optimal fruiting surface," he says. "Uniformity of the fruiting wood is key to production of uniform, high-quality apples." Farrow believes that, to maximize income and profit from selling apples, each tree has to be coaxed to do all the right things. Maybe its job is to produce 75 high-col- ored 88-count Gala apples that pack 95 percent into the Extra Fancy grade. If it does that, and so do all the other Precise management starts at TREE LEVEL If you can do one tree right, then you can multiply that by a million. by Richard Lehnert Horticulture COURTESY TOM RIVERS/DAILY NEWS, BATAVIA, NEW YORK Rod Farrow (left) credits his two new part-owners, Jose Iniguez (center) and Jason Woodworth, for carrying out the goals of precision orchard management. Their trees are slender spindle and are being shaped into fruiting walls using mechanical hedging.

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