Oct 1, 2022
Apple-picking time and the Jonathans are dropping

It’s apple picking time! Mid-August as I write this. It had been a few days since I last checked the crop and behold! Jonathans were dropping. This means all of the preparatory projects have to be finished. And they aren’t.

Rot again. Picked the first Jonathans yesterday and I am so disappointed to see rot appearing. I was sure we learned the correct timing for controlling it, and throughout the season all fruits looked so much better than ever before.

Much of the problem this year is poorly pruned trees and too much vegetation to permit good coverage. I guess I’ll have to try one more year to see if I can get it right. Maybe there is a way for an older guy to actually prune trees.

The peach problem. I missed a spray for lesser peach tree borers the third year after they were planted. I thought the infections were too high to cut out so I left them, hoping the spots would heal. It ruined the trees instead.

They will go this winter when I have time to pull them.

New Farm Sign. This year’s big crop warranted a new larger sign out front. I asked our local print shop to help design it.

The cool thing about it is the way it is set in the ground following instructions that came with our new flagpole.

Instead of setting posts in holes filled with concrete, these posts are set in rings of gravel and sand separated by a section of eight-inch plastic drain tile. The outer ring is hard packed grade-eight road gravel. The space around the 6”x 6” posts is filled with dry hard-packed playground sand.

Curing concrete, the easy(?) way. Most folks probably know that fresh concrete should not just “dry.” It needs to cure, which means giving the mix time enough to go through a chemical process that produces a much more durable, harder concrete.

Water needs to be present for this to happen. That is why we often see fresh concrete covered with plastic, etc.

This year I was too lazy to look for plastic but there are old hay bales stored along a tree line, and I do have a way to retrieve them. Soil is always wet under them. Perhaps the same will happen if the new concrete is covered with wet hay.  Well, we shall see.

A grapple on the front of a track loader is an easy way to handle old hay.

Electricity bills spike. Illinois Power electric bills have taken off for the moon, powered, so they say, by the cost of electricity purchased from out-of-state sources. One more reason to go for solar, which I intend to do when we finish new market facilities. 

Our bank is advertising solar loans. I asked them for recommendations since we are being deluged by emails and phone calls promoting solar. It is too difficult to sort through all of them.

Tool of the month: A front end loader bucket with a rotary broom out front that sweeps debris off the floor and into the bucket.

We store machinery in the pavilion in the off season. The floor was covered with dried mud.  Two swipes and the mud is gone. A half hour with a power washer and the place will be ready for a party.

 — Jerry Mills, Mills Apple Farm, Marine, Illinois

PHOTO: A great machine for cleaning dry concrete. A rotating brush sweeps material into the bucket, which is unloaded by raising and tilting forward. Material dribbles out through the space between brush and bucket. PHOTO: Mills Apple Farm, Marine, Illinois


Current Issue

Vegetable Growers News (VGN) May/June 2024 cover image

WSU AI program helps address water scarcity

Platform10 initiative focuses on pest, disease research

Farm market report: Inflation, farm input costs shape farm market prices

Nature’s Reward battles disease, pests through mechanization, biologicals

Fresh Views: Pollinator habitats

Successful succession

Farm Market & Agritourism: markups vs. margins


see all current issue »

Be sure to check out our other specialty agriculture brands

produceprocessingsm Organic Grower