Posts await workers to install trellis in this Honeycrisp orchard on William Stevenson’s fruit farm near Franklin, Quebec. Those trees in the distance are soft maples, a different kind of orchard, from which Stevenson collects and boils sap each spring to make maple syrup. Quebec is the leading producer in North America.
When the International Fruit Tree Association held its annual study tour in the Montreal area in late July, more than 180 apple growers were on the roster and filled three buses to tour 14 orchards, packing houses, direct markets, processing plants, a research facility and a cidery.
It was an intense two days, but good food and wine are part of the Canadian province’s French heritage, and the growers were introduced several times to a provincial specialty, hard apple cider, and its even-more-special version, ice cider.
While the Canadians haven’t experienced the labor issues their U.S. counterparts have, they are intensely interested in mechanization. They are not just looking—they are buying—mechanical blossom thinners, hedgers, platforms, and harvest-assist machines. They seem tuned in to European technology.
Look to upcoming issues of Good Fruit Grower for articles on apple production in Quebec.