HMC News – April 2021

Earlier this month, we began shoot thinning in our table grape vineyards. A shoot is fresh new growth that comes out of the grapevines in spring. As shoots develop, we identify the new growth that has the best size and position. At that point, we remove any excess growth from the vine. This helps keep the vine formed properly on the V-trellis and within the rows, and is our first step in selecting the best bunches for the coming table grape season.

What does it take to become USDA certified organic? Before we can apply for the organic certification, we must farm the ranch completely organically for three years. After the three year mark, we must complete a ranch inspection and a review of field input documentation before the ranch can officially receive organic certification. Each spring, we go through the same inspection and document review process in order to get our organic certification renewed. We went through this process a few weeks ago, so our certification is already renewed for the 2021 season.

Baby trees in a high density stone fruit orchard with black weed mat underneath

Our stone fruit is growing well across our orchards, with sizing and development moving forward right on schedule. These peaches are in the driveway leading up to our office, and right now they are about the size of a ping pong ball. The warm weather lately has helped with this development, but we do have some cooler days ahead. As always, we will closely monitor any adverse weather and keep an eye on how the drop in temperatures may impact harvest timing.

With a chance of hail in the forecast over the last weekend of April, we had to protect our developing Plumsicles™ (and our other plum & plumcot varieties). We covered the trees with repurposed citrus netting, purchased at a discount from our neighbors. Citrus farmers use these nets to keep bees away from their blossoms, but once they’ve got a few holes they are no longer useful for that purpose. We are able to use the nets in our orchards to protect the fruit from hail, even if there are a few holes here and there. We save a little on the purchase of the nets, the citrus farmers reclaim some of their investment, and we all reduce waste by reusing something that would otherwise be discarded!

row of trees in a plum orchard covered by nets