Week 51: The Art of Harvesting Sunlight

Volume 7, Week 51,  August 10 –  17, 2014

Our guys are cutting out suckers, those unproductive, light stealing, water-sprouts that grow up the middle and tops of the tree.

The fancy term for that is light/canopy management. You can throw deep terminology like that around if you’re more than 50 miles from home and folks will think you’re really smart and well educated, but in reality, all you have to be is observant. Any branch that doesn’t get light will die—we call that shaded out—and any bud that doesn’t get light won’t flower.

The fancy term for that is “fruit bud differentiation.” I think there’s a YouTube video on that on our channel from when we did the Peaches to Papayas Project. Our tree gives us fruit next year, based off how we treated it this year in so many ways; nutrition, moisture, crop load and light.

So a bud will either be a shoot or a flower depending on whether it has light. It was designed that way so the tree will present its flowers to the bees next spring, only on external shoots. We know that the best fruit grows on strong branches closest to the trunk, so we have to get rid of the shade and get light in there.

All of these things are about balance. You need enough shade or you’ll sun burn the trunk for instance. You need enough fertility to grow a large crop, but not so much you produce lots of suckers. The word I like is “adequate” or just enough, and it’s way closer to art than science.

This may seem silly, but one of the most important things a farmer gets when he buys or rents an acre is access to sunlight because at the end of the day, what a farmer does is harness the sun’s energy, add water and nutrition and voila, food.

So what we’re doing is encouraging these elaborate solar collectors to capture all the photons we can, by food not shade producing leaves, and the efficiency with which we do that is measured in boxes per acre, not kilowatts. Now doesn’t that sound more profound than cutting out suckers?

There’s an obvious correlation here between farmers being responsible to productively convert sunlight into food in an orchard, and each of us being responsible for turning light—or insight—into productive living;   I don’t think you’d need to be too smart to fill a book with the correlations. Here’s a few that come to mind.

There’s enough light falling on the spot where I’m planted—my little world where I work, play, eat and sleep—for me to be very productive and happy as long as that light is applied correctly to the specific situation.

The crop I’m harvesting today is the result of how I cared for the orchard last year.

The happiest people I know are also the most productive. To be productive, you’ve gotta get rid of insight robbing nutrition stealing suckers.

Balance is beautifully adequate; just enough work, play, and rest. Too much or little of any of these reduces the yield of happiness.

Life’s way closer to art than science.

Author AHO Kitchen Team

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