This class will provide an overview of fruit tree growing habits and the reasons why we prune, along with an introduction to pruning techniques and principles, followed by an actual demonstration of pruning on the WEI Amador Hill Orchard. In the afternoon, you will learn how to create your own orchard through the techniques of grafting. It’s time to get ready for pruning and a good time to graft for spring transplanting.
Pruning and Grafting Apple Trees
When: Saturday Feb. 16th, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Instructor: Eric Gustafson, Branch Nursery, & Jim Birkholz, Pleasant Valley Orchard
Where: WEI’s Amador Hill Farm and Orchard, 15715 River Road, North Branch MN
Registration Fee: $60
FULL COURSE DESRIPTION:
PRUNING: Skilled pruning increases the quality of your harvest and provides for better access to air, wind and sun for your apple trees. Now is the time to learn what you need to know: the tools needed for pruning, the principles guiding best practices in pruning, best timing for pruning and spring thinning, and year by year pruning techniques from the very young seedling or the overgrown aged tree that needs your help. Learn the art and science of apple tree pruning from experienced grower, Jim Birkholz (Pleasant Valley Orchard). The class will provide an overview of fruit tree growing habits and the reasons why we prune, along with an introduction to pruning techniques and principles, followed by an actual demonstration of pruning on the WEI Amador Hill Orchard.
GRAFTING: Skilled grafting allows you to take a section of a stem with leaf buds and insert it into the rootstock of another tree. The upper part of the graft (the scion) becomes the top of a new seedling, while the lower part becomes the root system or the trunk. Eric Gustafson from Branch Nursery will show you the best techniques for grafting. He will bring scions from his orchard along with selected rootstock so you can start trees of your own to store and transplant later in the spring.
Certification: This course may be used for full credit by participants in WEI’s Organic Apple Farming CertificateProgram. You can also register for this course without joining the Certificate Program.
Jim together with his wife, Judy Erickson, own and operate Pleasant Valley Orchard near Shafer in southeast Chisago County. The family owned farm consists of 15 acres of apples with the first plantings being made in 1991. They also grow strawberries, pumpkins and squash. The goal of our farm is to sell all we produce directly off the farm and to offer our customers a great experience. Jim has been a member of statewide grower boards over the years in order to support and learn from successful local fruit and vegetable growers and to support higher education and businesses crucial to specialty crop agriculture. Earlier in his career Jim worked in soil and water conservation (he has a degree in Soil and Water Resource Management from the UofM) and remains involved in the field serving as chairman of the Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District.
I have been working in various aspects of the “green” industry for more than 40 years, but I still don’t know a damn thing. My current most passionate interest is large scale composting, which is usually a conversational non-starter. I am interested in many aspects of sustainable living and how we can adopt them as we swim against the tide. In my spare time I am working on a Master’s of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul.