Nature’s Finest Fund Update – Tansy Farms
The sprayer arrived at the beginning of May, unfortunately it was damaged in shipment and a few minor adjustments needed to be made. It is now running perfectly. The new spraying technique using adjustable deflectors has not only reduced spray drift but I am finding that I am using a third less of spray material. All is good at the farm, thank you for the Nature’s Finest Fund grant, it is greatly appreciated.
What are the biggest challenges for organic apple growers?
There are several challenges to growing organic apples. To begin with, there is a considerable amount of labour that must be applied not only to the annual pruning and hand-thinning of fruit but also an understanding that nature does not always work in your favour. The application and timing of sprays is crucial and one has a very small window of opportunity to apply inputs.
What do you use the sprayer for?
The spray program has been implemented over 20 year of trial and error. However, I feel that my program is advanced and successful in producing certified organic fruit for the Ontario consumer.
There are many challenges in growing apples for the fresh market. One difficulty in growing apples in Ontario is the high amount of rainfall and warm weather which is condusive for a fungal disease called Scab. This appears on the surface of the fruit and if not controlled can affect 70 to 80% of your fruit. This can not only make it difficult to market these apples but it can infect your orchard in future years. The product that organic apple growers use is Sulfur. This product has been approved for 30 years. The major problem with this product is that it has a very short life span and it must be applied before it rains.
There is one major pest that we must control. The Codling Moth can become infested in your orchard and become a very serious problem. The product that I use to protect the fruit from infestation is called Virosoft. This virus specifically controls the target pest. This is applied once a year around the end of June.
There are other sprays used to control worms such as leaf rollers. This spray is a natural soil bacterium called Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT). This is applied 2 times a year; once before blossom and approximately 2 weeks later. Again this spray is target specific (not a broad spectrum spray). All the sprays must be applied within a very small timeframe of a day or so. Therefore I must monitor my orchard daily and apply a very stringent program. I complete my spray program by mid August a month before harvest. There is also an application of nutrients sprays applied bi-weekly after blossom of calcium and sea kelp to enhance the trees and fruit.
What variety of apples do you grow?
The variety of apples that are supplied to the Big Carrot by Tansy Farm come from an area of Ontario located on the Georgian Bay. We are renown for producing the best MacIntosh, Empires, Cortland, Spartans, Spies and Ida Red apples.
Richard Frisby has been supplying apples to The Big Carrot for over 20 years. Tansy Farms grows seven different varieties of organic apples and over 2000 trees in the Nottawasaga Bay region.