Monday, July 27, 2009

Picking Guidelines

To our loyal customers! We need your help to protect your fruit! As many of you who have visited now know, we explain our picking guidelines before giving you a bag and sending you out to the orchard to pick your fruit.

Unfortunately, we experienced some significant losses last season as a result of our guidelines not being respected. Apples were picked months before they should have been picked. School groups had to be turned away because the fruit on the tree that we had reserved for them and not flagged for public picking was picked anyway. Fruit was pulled off the tree and not twisted and lifted and major branches were broken.

Our picking guideline is:

We ask that you only pick from trees with the flags like the one in this picture! And we ask that you please twist and lift, do not pull, do not break our branches or there will be no fruit on that branch for you to enjoy next year.

That’s it! And here’s why!

We have 11 different varieties of peaches that ripen at varying times over 3 months and 166 different varieties of apples that ripen at varying times over 5 months and 6 different varieties of pears that ripen at varying times over 2 months so not all fruit that you see on the trees is ripe at the same time even if it looks like it should be! For example, the Arkansas Black apple is a beautiful red in August but is not prime for picking until November 1. Picked any earlier, this apple will not taste good.We make it easy for you to identify what to pick by flagging only those trees that are ready to be picked.

Trees that have fruit and are not flagged (and therefore not to be picked) fall into one of the following categories:

  • Trees that are not ripe and will not taste right if picked before their time.

  • Trees that we are experimenting with. We are trying to reestablish nearly extinct Kansas apple varieties. Many of our trees are heirloom varieties that have not been grown in our region for over 100 years and we are trying to preserve their existence.

  • Trees that are reserved for school, scouting and other children’s groups for educational purposes.

Our theory as to why there are so few pick-your-own orchards in the area (several of which have gone out of business just in the last two years) is that the disregard for picking guidelines and resulting damages make it more profitable for the farmer to pick their own fruit and sell to the grocery stores or in pre-picked markets.

We need your help! If you would like to continue to experience the pick-your-own environment that we have created for you, we need help with both educating others and preventing this behavior! So, we ask you, our loyal customers, to help us with this! These trees are your trees, this fruit is your fruit! If you want to enjoy this fruit, please help us protect it for you to enjoy season after season! Feel free to kindly remind others who may be picking from an unflagged tree about our "No Flag, No Pick" rule.

Thank you so much for your help.

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