A total of 400 acres of orchards were grown in 2020, with 74 acres being traditional orchard and 326 being of high density trellised orchards.
Apples belong to the Rosaceae family, which are fruits with a core of small seeds encased in a tough membrane with the skin surrounding the outer layer. Apples are known as a “pome fruit.” The nutrients in an apple mostly come from its skin. A good source of fibre and vitamin C can be found in apples if the skin is left on and not taken off the apple. Apples contain pectin, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of cancer.
When apple farmers first start their orchards, they purchase young nursery trees and then plant them. They have to tend to these young trees diligently to grow them for several years before they are at the size and maturity to bear apples. The trees have to be trained to be able to hold as many apples as possible. Pruning these trees is critical as it helps position the branches, so they capture the optimal amount of sunlight and is typically done in the spring before the apples start growing.
When the apple trees start to blossom, this is when pollination occurs. After pollination, the blossoms will dry up and take the form of “fruitlets”. Over the summer, these “fruitlets” will grow and take shape from green buds to the formation of apples that we recognize from those in the grocery store.
Farmers need to monitor their orchards closely to make sure no pests or diseases damage their crops, and this can be done by using crop protection. Once these apples start to ripen in late September to October, they are harvested by hand by workers, some on ladders, and also by a mechanized harvesting platform. Apples grow best when the winters are cold, steady summer temperatures with a high humidity level- PEI has an excellent climate for this!
Around the world, over 7500 varieties of apples are grown, with 100 of those being grown in Canada. On average, Canadians tend to eat on average 86 apples a year!
There are seven U-Picks scattered across PEI for the public to go out and enjoy when the apples are ready to be picked. U-Picks are Arlington Orchards, The Olde Towne Orchard, The Grove Orchard and U-Pick, The Mount Apple Orchard and U-Pick, Wintermoor Orchard, MacPhee’s Orchard, and Maple Farms.
- Planted: 2-3 years for dwarf trees to mature to bear apples, 8 years for normal trees to mature to bear apples.
- Harvested: September- late October
- Used for: human consumption: pies, juices, cider
Industry Association and Contacts: PEI Tree Fruit Growers Association