Hazards in the Orchard

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As a follow up to our post on starting your own orchard, it is important to note the hazards that orchards can present, none of which are too worrying provided sensible precautions are taken.

An apple orchard is a safe place to find apples. However, some minor hazards do exist. Think of the hazards in three separate ways: trees, apples and people.

Trees

Hazards relating to the trees consist of flooding, drought, high winds, late frost, hail, floods, disease, insects, animals and humans. Apple tree branches can be peeled of their bark by hail. Without bark, insects and diseases have a quick entry to these trees. Trees must use energy towards healing instead of production – bearing apples.

High winds will blow fruit off. Trees heavy with fruit can literally be torn apart by wind. Ice loads and wind normally will not affect trees because they are trimmed to bear loads. Since apple trees do not like too much water, drowning is one sure quick death.

Apples

Disease, insects and animals can all be controlled by humans.

Deer and rabbits are proven hazards. In the fall, deer rub trees with their antlers causing severe damage to low branches and the cambium on the main trunk. Deer will eat tender new growth in the spring, and fruit buds in the winter. Rabbits will eat the bark of the small trees during the late fall and winter months. This girdling effect to trees can stunt growth and kill trees.

People

Humans threaten and damage trees by mechanical damage: improper spraying, improper pruning, and little humans can break branches while they climb in the trees. Most of this type of damage can be out grown in time, but the damage is real.

The actual apple has a few hazards during its own development. Hazards from apple buds to apples include frost, hail, insects, disease, winds, animals and humans. An apple is the result of a vigorous, healthy growing tree. An apple is the stored energy that would allow the tree to reproduce. Weather possesses the only uncontrollable hazard to apples. Hail can destroy 100% of the crop and wind can literally blow apples off the branches. Insects, disease and animals can be controlled by the orchard manager through spraying and fencing.

Hazards in the orchards to humans are limited but controllable. The process of spraying trees and fruit is one of the biggest hazards. Spraying must be done as per chemical labeling by capable people. When applied properly, the results of chemical application are safe for the applicator and the consumer of the apple. Ladders or the fall from a ladder is not recommended in any orchard while picking or pruning. The fall does not hurt; however, the sudden stop does.

Bee stings are always possible when you are among millions of fragrant flowers in the spring. Normally, if you leave the bees alone, they leave you alone. Bees prefer flowers over humans.

Also, overeating green apples can have an adverse affect. “Green Apple Quick Step” is not hazardous unless caught too far from the portable water closet.

Overall, an apple orchard is a very safe place to be. Orchard visits are great outdoor adventures for families of all ages. The apples cannot be any fresher.

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