General information about fruit farming
Influenced by the North Sea, the climate in Altes Land is maritime.
There is an average rainfall of 730mm, ensuring that the water
management is balanced, a mild average annual temperature of 8.5°C,
only approximately 80 days of temperatures below freezing and about
1.500 sunshine hours make the fruit-growing possible this far
Our apples are characterized by a thin apple skin and a special sugar/fruit-acid ratio, caused by the mild humid sea climate, that’s why they are more aromatic than fruits grown in warmer climates where the sweetness overbalances in the taste.
Fruit farming is traceable to as early as 1320. In 1657, 202 hectares were cultivated with fruits and in 1787, it was documented that there was “a huge amount of different apples, pears, cherries, plums, nuts” in Altes Land.
Today there are 10.500 hectares of fruit cultivated and about 300.000 tons of apples harvested per year at the Lower Elbe with the core area Altes Land. The cultivable acreage consists of approximately 90% apples, 6% sweet cherries, the remaining 4% are pears, plums, damsons and berries.
The year of a fruit farmer (or as he calls himself: “gardener—specialised in fruit growing”) is not simply caring for his blossoms in spring and harvesting his fruits in autumn. There is a lot to do the whole year round. In spring he has to start the fruit pruning in order that the trees get enough light, air and sun. In April/May he must constantly observe the weather to be ready for protecting the blossoms against the frost. During this time, the farmer has no fixed end of his work day, he even works at night. In June, the cherry period starts as well as its harvest. Long before, nets had to be put over the trees so that the birds can’t steal the cherries.
After the cherry harvest, it is time for summer pruning of the apple trees until the first “early apples” can be harvested, starting in August. In September, the apple harvest is in full progress and the farmers are hoping for good weather again, because when the apple spend his last hours in the sun before picking, that’s when it gets the right sugar/fruit-acid ratio. In autumn and in winter, there are, among other things, logistic problems to be solved because there has to be clarified which trees have to be replaced and by which variety, as trees should not be older than 15 years. In February, the new trees are planted.