Fresh Facts Week 38: Leaners vs Crunchers, or, This Year’s Oat Hay Takes on Next Year’s Soil Nematodes

                Uncle Vern’s Weekly Farm-Fueled Musings, May 12–18, 2014

Well, we’re firing on all cylinders now! Lots of nectarines right now, a few peaches and apricots. Flavor Rosa’s are starting this morning; Monday the 12th, so you’ll probably get the “heads up to order them” email before some of you get this letter. To put that date in perspective, the “normal” start date is the 25th, so a couple weeks early this year.

I just love Flavor Rosa Pluot time; they’re so aromatic, the whole area fills with that delightful, irresistible, anticipatory perfume; I think it’s called “bite me.” So, of course you have to, and then your mouth and nose are battling over who’s having the most fun; all that Santa Rosay flavor, the sweet/tart juice…Now, there’s that digestive part of your anatomy that’s sayin’, “Easy turbo, pace yourself or I’ll be having the last laugh!” I think two are safe the first day, three is living on the edge, four is asking for trouble; but they’re just soooo good.

I think Flavor Rosa is one where the 40 percent of you out there who don’t like juicy stone fruit should really consider making an exception. The flavor/aroma profiles, the interactive complexities enhance with all stone fruit as they ripen and soften, but none more so than Flavor Rosa. Maybe the crunchers could try slicing ’em up and eating them with a fork or on a salad. Ripe and juicy is a totally different experience, another level of heaven I’d hate for you to miss out on.

There’s no such thing as a farmer who doesn’t like his fruit juicy. In fact, after we’ve selected the juiciest fruit in the box, we lean over and make this simultaneous sucking sound as we bite in so we get all the juice possible; kinda like when you sip really hot coffee but louder. Since that’s our perspective, we just assume that everybody’s the same. But alas, research shows us leaners are only 40 percent of the US population, while crunchers are also 40 percent leaving the happy in-betweeners who can go either way holding the 20 percent swing vote in the middle; they’re the independent stone fruit voters you might say. As with wine, tastes do mature, so there’s hope for our crunchy cousins.

Hey! We’re making oat hay this week. So why would a fruit farmer grow hay anyhow? That’s an excellent question grasshopper. When it’s time to replace an orchard, we doze the old one out, grind it all up and send it to the co-gen plant. Deep rip, clean up the sticks and roots, relevel, spread a lot of manure, and plant oats in the fall; that’s what we’re baling now. Next we’ll seed Sudan Grass, grow that up 6–8 feet tall and make Sudan hay once. Let that grow up again and freeze around Thanksgiving, hopefully. Shred that all up, plow all that organic matter into the soil, mark and plant our new orchard.

There are soil borne diseases and nematodes (microscopic worm like critters that feed on the roots) that build up in an old orchard. A conventional farmer would use a toxic chemical called a soil fumigant to eradicate these pests so he can have a healthy orchard.

We’ve learned that these diseases and pests need a tree fruit host, so by waiting a year and growing forage, they basically starve to death. Second, when Sudan freezes, it forms prussic acid which is toxic to the nematodes that survived so voila! An organic solution; and we get organic hay and grow some fantastic orchards this way. That’s the haps from the farm this week. Love ya &

Author AHO Kitchen Team

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