Farmers prune apple trees ahead of spring

ALTAMONT – For apple orchards across New York, early March is a time of hope and renewal.

While it may feel a little early to be daydreaming about fall apple picking, Indian Ladder Farms has been busy making sure its apple trees are healthy heading into spring and summer.

"We are pruning them to dwarf them and to invigorate them, so they stay young and healthy and keep making good apples," said Chris Carballeria, the farm manager at Indian Ladder Farms.

Row by row, Carballeria and his team check each tree, peeling back the old and embracing the new.

"They’ll go through a lot of the old trees and take off a lot of the less productive wood and diseased wood, and we’ll get a longer life span out of the tree," he explained.

Pruning can only be done at this time of year.

"The trees are dormant in the winter, and so they don’t react the same way that they might if we were to trim them in the summer. Getting them in the winter is a very important part of what we do," he said. "The trees don’t like to be pruned when it is less than zero degrees, but we haven’t had too many of those, thank god."

The process, in turn, creating those bright and juicy apples we all love.

"As you take more and more of these branches, you allow more light to come in and color the fruit. You allow more wind to come in and that will allow them to resist disease and rot," he added.

Indian Ladder Farms isn’t the only place that has been busy. Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook has also been pruning and plans to do more next week. DeVoe’s Rainbow Orchard in Halfmoon says it will be getting started soon.