grower / Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
age / 20
crops / apples, peaches
business / Mt. Ridge Farms
other experience / Blake is a fifth-generation orchardist and participated in a one-year internship as a research assistant with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission in Washington in 2014.
What differences do you see between the Pennsylvania and Washington apple industries?
In Adams County, many of the farms grow apples for processing. It’s kind of difficult to grow fresh quality apples for the fact it rains 35 inches of rainfall each year. We can’t get the great finish that a Washington apple gets.
What have you learned from your internship?
I’ve learned new tree training and pruning techniques and everything you do to help provide good growth. Going on an internship and working with a horticulturist, and seeing the day-in and day-out work, is really different than what I’ve learned at home.
What will you do differently when you go back to Pennsylvania?
We are going to go deeper into soil nutrition at our farm. I really want to know what is in our soil, what are we lacking, and what nutrition we need in the soil to help make our trees grow stronger. In the Northwest, you are able to get eight feet of growth, and in our orchard we only get three feet a year. I know sunlight is a major factor — but what are the other things Northwest growers are doing to help the trees grow that way? There are a few things on this internship that I’ve learned and I hope to incorporate back home to help our trees grow.