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Blog 2014



July 10, 2014

     Today we paid everyone off and had a nice end-of-season party! Here are some pictures. The party pictures were taken right at the start of the party. We were busy signing checks when the party was at its peak. This has been one of the quickest harvests in recent memory. It only lasted 32 days this year (not counting the Dallesport Chelans). That's about a week shorter than average!
Karen printing checks
 
Start of party 1
 
Start of party 2
 

July 9, 2014

     Today was our last day picking cherries for the year. It was CRAZY. We started the day picking Sweethearts, but we quickly switched to Regina, and we spent most of the day picking canner Vans, freezer Vans, and freezer Blacks. Here are some pictures:
View from Interplant block
 
Road to Phillips
 
Last truck of the year
 

July 8, 2014

     It was VERY hot today. We shut down at 11:30 because of the heat. Still, we picked over 200 bins of Sweethearts.

July 7, 2014

     Today we picked the rest of the Main Orchard Regina and moved into the Graveyard Sweetheart. It is strange for us to be picking Sweethearts so early. We usually have to take a day or two off between Regina and Sweetheart. The Sweetheart are a little green, but we're picking them anyway because it is going to get hot and the sun will cook the cherries right on the trees!

July 6, 2014

     We spent all day picking Regina in the Main Orchard. They continue to look great!

July 5, 2014

     We picked canner Vans, freezer Vans, and freezer Blacks today. We only used 45 pickers, so it was a very slow day.

July 4, 2014

     Everyone picked in our newest block of Regina. They looked great! Reginas are the most beautiful cherries we grow. The have long colorful stems and are huge! We finished picking a little after 11:00. Katherine and Ali are visiting from San Francisco this weekend. Here are some pictures:
Kat and Ali
 
Sunrise from the Graveyard
 
Some Regina
 

July 3, 2014 (Part 2)

     Here are answers to some of the questions I've gotten recently:

          1) All of our cherries are hand picked. People climb ladders and fill buckets which are dumped into bins which are brought to packing houses on trucks. Tomorrow we will have about 150 pickers. Earlier in the season we had 175 pickers. A really good picker in really good trees on a long day can pick a ton (2,000 pounds) of cherries.
          2) About 30% of our cherries are exported. Only the best cherries are exported, so the percentage varies dramatically from variety to variety. For example, lots of Regina are exported, but not very many Skeena are exported because they are more fragile.
          3) Each year, we rent about 1,000 bee hives to pollinate the orchard. A big semi truck loaded with hives arrives in the evening and we use tractors and forklifts to move the hives into the orchard in the middle of the night when the bees are sleeping. We keep the hives in the orchard for about two weeks.
          4) The amount we pick each day varies depending on the weather, the ripeness of the fruit, and how many pickers we have. For example, yesterday we picked about 85 ton while two days ago we picked about 5 ton. Both days were successful, just different circumstances.

July 3, 2014 (Part 1)

     The next variety of cherries (Regina) are still a little too green, so we took the day off from picking. It's very nice to give most of the crew a day off and give the rest of us a chance to catch up and prepare for picking again tomorrow! Here are some pictures from the last week or so.
Rain on the cherries
 
Helicopter drying trees
 
Wind machine drying trees
 
Full bins waiting to be brought to the loading pad
 
A group picking
 
Ramos family at end of day
 
Carlos and Giovanni sorting
 
Sun rising on Mt. Hood
 

July 2, 2014

     We picked Skeena in the "13 Row" block today. (There are actually 24 rows of trees in this block. When we bought the orchard there were 13 rows, but when we replanted the block, we nearly doubled the number of rows!) We picked just over 85 ton today. That's the most we've picked in a day so far this year!

July 1, 2014

     Today was a "clean-up" picking day. We picked the freezers in the Davis place (Vans and Black Republicans) and picked Stark's Golds in the home place. We only had about 45 people picking, but these varities of trees are scattered all over, so it was difficult to keep track of everything.

June 30, 2014

     We picked Skeena today. Our first day of crazy picking. Our tractors and chain trailers were behind all day. We stopped picking at about 11:00 because the fruit started to get too green. It took us until 1:00 to get all of the fruit out of the orchard and down to the loading pad.

June 29, 2014

     We picked the rest of the Schneiders at the home place for fresh. We also picked the Attica (for fresh) and all of the Home Place Rainiers for brine.

June 28, 2014

     We picked the remaining Davis Rainiers for brine today. Only the freezers remain at Davis!

June 27, 2014

     It started to rain at 2:30 this morning. It rained hard until about 5:30. It then rained on and off until around 8:00. We had the sprayers going, the wind machines going, and had the helicopter make three passes. It was way too wet for us to pick. We spent most of the day fighting the rain. Fortunately, it remained cool all day. We are trying to be optimistic that the rain didn't cause too much damage.

June 26, 2014

     We picked Rainiers at Davis for fresh.

June 25, 2014

     We finished picking Bings at the home place today. We picked a few Schneiders and moved into our Lapins. We also picked our two lease Lapin blocks. It was a crazy day at the loading pad dealing with five "different" kinds of cherries!

June 24, 2014

     We continued to pick Bings at the home place.

June 23, 2014

     We continued to pick Bings at the home place.

June 22, 2014

     We continued picking Bings at the home place. Quality remains high. It's nice to be picking at home. Everything is close by and it definitely feels like home! Here are some pictures from the last week or so.
Miguel driving chain
 
A few people picking in Rambo
 
Sunrise
 
Pablo and Maria
 
Patricia's lunch crew
 
Posing for a photo
 

June 21, 2014

     We started to pick Bings at the home place today. It was great to watch the sun rise on the longest day of the year while picking in the Point block. The fruit quality is excellent, but the crop is lighter than we had expected.

June 20, 2014

     We finished picking Bings at the Davis place today. It was a long day. We picked until 4:00 and then had to move all of the equipment back to the home place. Most of the crew worked until after 7. That's a super long day considering that we started at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning.

June 19, 2014

     We started picking Bings at the Davis place today. The quality is excellent, we are not seeing much damage caused by the rain the other day. Unfortunately, there is much less fruit than we were anticipating. We are flying through the blocks. Things are going well. Picking is going smoothly and we are making good progress. Our fingers are crossed so that the rain will stay away for another couple of weeks.

June 18, 2014

     We finished picking Bing in Dallesport at around noon today. We then moved all of the equipment to the Davis place so that we can start picking Bings there tomorrow!

June 17, 2014

     It rained for about an hour this morning. Fortunately it wasn't a heavy rain, the wind came up, and it didn't get too hot. Hopefully the rain doesn't cause too much damage. We didn't start picking until around 6:15 because we had to wait for the trees to dry off. A slow start to the day like this leads to a slow day. It really seemed to drag on and on.

June 16, 2014

     We started picking Bings with the entire crew in Dallesport today. It feels good to be picking at full strength again. We have nine crews picking for us and we "leant" three picking crews to a neighbor that was short pickers and needed some help. This is great because it helps out our neighbors and it gives our crew more work!

June 15, 2014

     We had a small group of pickers pick the pollenizer Bings at the Smith place in Dallesport.

June 13, 2014

     We picked Tietons and Early Robbins at the Davis place. The Tietons were loaded, but the fruit size was smaller than it has been in past years. Fortunately, the size was still sufficient!

June 12, 2014 (part 2)

     We picked Early Robbins and Skylar Rae today. This is the first year where we have picked the Early Robbins without sorting at all! It was also the first year we've picked Skylar Rae. They have nice color and decent size. It will be interesting to see how they fare over the next couple of years as the trees mature.

June 12, 2014 (part 1)

     We picked Early Robbins today. We have a very light crop of Early Robbins this year, but they are very big and the quality is excellent. Here are some pictures from the last couple of days. You'll notice in that in the first picture only Maria (one of our punchers) is standing by the bin. This is because we're not using sorters!!! The quality is good enough that we don't have to do any field sorting. Cross your fingers that the rain holds off for a month so that it doesn't damage all the cherries that are waiting to be picked.
Maria
 
Chelans
 
More Chelans
 
Chelans at loading pad
 
Picking Early Robbins
 
Dilly, John, Armando
 

June 11, 2014

     We finished picking Chelans today. We had fewer than we were expecting, but the quality was outstanding!

June 10, 2014

     We picked more Chelans today. The start of this year has been much better than all the damaging rain we had at the start of last year. The pickers and crew are noticeably happier in the orchard since we're not having to sort. We can just pick like normal. I hope to post some pictures tomorrow!

June 9, 2014

     We picked more Chelans at the Davis place today. We're up to about 100 pickers, so it is starting to feel like we are really picking!!! The quality has been great, but some of the cherries have been small (this is a problem inherent to Chelans).

June 8, 2014

     We started to pick Chelans at the Davis place. We only had about 55 pickers, so it was a slow day. It's good to start the season this way because it allows us to get all the bugs out and remember exactly what we're doing!

June 3, 2014

     We started picking Chelans in Dallesport today! We only have 25 pickers right now, but the trees are young and the block is small. Light crop over there, but it is early in the season so we are hoping the price is high!

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