Spring has officially arrived in the Orchard at Martin’s Family Fruit Farm
It’s been a long winter in Southern Ontario, but now spring has finally decided to take up residence in an enjoyable way. A way that makes you want to stick your face out the car window and feel the warmth of the sun, or sit on the plush grass with some Martin’s apple chips and a good book. With the warmer temperatures in early May, our apple trees put forth their annual bloom. For a week or ten days, the Orchards turn into perhaps the biggest outdoor flower display in Waterloo Region. The blossoms cover the trees with a fantastic and fragrant array of colour ranging from subtle white to deeper pinks as far as the eye can see.
Each and every blossom has the potential to transform into a crunchy Ambrosia, or sweet, juicy Honeycrisp apple, but not without assistance from nature and some of our farm’s most highly specialized helpers. All apple trees require pollination of the flowers to yield fruit and this spring more than 15 million pollination experts will ‘bee’ released into our Orchards. These bees will fly from tree to tree in search of nectar, carrying with them a small dusting of pollen that fertilizes and turns flowers into fruit. Although bees tend to get most of the recognition, the wind, birds and other insects also contribute to the pollination process, ensuring all 700 acres of Martin’s apple orchards will be covered this spring.
Orchard pollination is a complex and fascinating study, and not simply a case of sprinkling apple blossoms with pollen from another tree. In order for apple pollination to be successful, it is necessary to have pollen from two different varieties of apple trees. Most apple varieties are self-unfruitful, and their blossoms must be fertilized with the pollen of a separate variety in order to produce fruit. To encourage this interaction, apple growers will lay out the orchards with multiple varieties in each orchard block, either by alternating rows or planting ‘donor’ trees of a different variety at the beginning of each row to help promote successful pollination.
Spring is always a welcome time in the orchard. The scent of apple blossoms on the warm breeze and the orchard buzzing with activity—full of promise for a successful harvest to come.