Mobile Cider Press Pilot

For the first time since Mountain Sun Juice closed its Dolores doors 14 years ago, local apple juice shipped out of Montezuma County in October, 2016. Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project produced and sold 2,200 gallons of Montezuma Valley Heritage Blend raw apple juice to hard cider makers in Denver, Boulder and Cortez. MORP used proceeds to purchase local heirloom apples, engage Montana’s NW Mobile Juicing, lease cold storage and processing facilities, ship juice and coordinate the project. Funded in part by a recently awarded USDA Local Food Promotion Program grant, MORP undertook this project to evaluate whether mobile juicing can help fruit growers reach juice markets. With the preponderance of juice apples in our orchards, market opportunity exists not only for hard cider, but for our fresh juice as well. Wouldn’t it be great if local apple juice could again be available in our own community?

In order for Ryal Schallenberger of Montana’s Northwest Mobile Juicing to bring his mobile juice press to Montezuma County, MORP needed to guarantee we would have 800 bushels of apples to press. Knowing there was a bumper crop on the trees, and that one orchard alone could produce 800 bushels, we said sure; and when Ryal set a date in mid-October, a 12-day crash-course on juice manufacturing ensued.

MORP set a goal to pick 100 bushels a day. After our first day yielded 20 bushels, albeit with only three pickers, we got nervous. MORP put out a call to pay fruit-growers for picked and delivered apples, volunteer picking crews were organized and seven orchard owners opened their gates to mostly complete strangers. Over the course of eight days, 32 volunteers and four orchard owners picked, shook, and packed 32,000 pounds of apples. Over and over we heard old-timers recount, “on a good day, so-and-so could hand-pick 100 bushels”. We were humbled by our fruit-growing pioneers.

Picking apples was one thing. What about selling juice? How would we price juice in a market ranging from $1.50 to $9.00/gallon? Where exactly does one put 800 bushels of apples and how do they get there? Furthermore, how do we move a tote of juice weighing 2,600 pounds, and how do we get six of them to Denver? Thanks to years of getting to know old orchards, their people, and folks in the cider business, we knew who to ask. The juice sold out, and box-by-box, MORP purchased and borrowed wooden fruit crates, 20-bushel bins and milk crates. We borrowed trucks, trailers, barns, rented a loader and leased a forklift, tractor, warehouse and cold storage from Russell Vineyards to finish the job. Well, almost. There was still that question of getting 10,400 pounds of juice to Denver, after numerous unsuccessful attempts at sourcing a refrigerated truck. But as luck would have it, Lang Livestock had just purchased a truck from our friends at Geisinger Feed. They shipped the juice on an open-air flatbed at night to keep it cool. How happy we were envisioning a 75’ Kenworth semi delivering Montezuma Valley Heritage Blend apple juice in downtown Denver early the next morning. Next time, we envision the truck being full.

MORP is grateful for everyone’s generosity and confidence, and the true community effort it took to accomplish this project. Let us do it again!

Completed Needs Assessment to study feasibility of MORP purchasing a mobile press for use in our heritage orchards:

CapLog - MORP - Needs Assessment - Final - Updated Jan 17
 http://montezumaorchard.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/CapLog-MORP-Needs-Assessment-Final-Updated-Jan-17.pdf

 

 

mobile press

MORP DNA Results of Historic Apple Trees

MORP DNA results of 489 apple leaf samples collected by MORP and submitted to the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation for identification, sorted by name. Click the arrows at the bottom of the document to scroll through all pages or click the link to see full document. MORP DNA Results_name
 http://montezumaorchard.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/MORP-DNA-Results_name.pdf

MORP DNA results of 489 apple leaf samples sorted by tree ID number. Click the arrows at the bottom of the document to scroll through all pages or click the link to see full document. MORP DNA results_treeID
 http://montezumaorchard.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/MORP-DNA-results_treeID.pdf 

Details:

  • 58 named cultivars
  • 34 unknown cultivar matches to other samples – likely named cultivars not in ARS dataset
  • 103 unique unknown cultivars – some are likely seedlings. However, MORP took care to collect from grafted – not seedling trees – so many of these unique unknowns are also likely named historic cultivars not listed in the ARS dataset
  • 195 cultivars in total out of 489 MORP samples

Testing made possible by a 2015 Colorado USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant award to MORP


Historic Apple Cultivar Identification Using DNA Fingerprinting Techniques by Gayle Volk, USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation (article from MORP 2016 newsletter) 

Apple cultivars are traditionally vegetatively propagated by grafting; many apple cultivars have been sold and exchanged over the centuries. During the American homestead era, apple trees were planted on properties as part of the process of cultivating the land. Cultivars purchased as grafted trees from nurseries often had desirable traits, such as large, higher quality fruit that could be eaten fresh, stored for extended lengths of time, or used for cider production. Trees planted from seeds often did not exhibit desirable traits for fresh consumption, and were instead used primarily for cider. Many historic apple cultivars remain available today as grafted trees in national and private collections. In fact, DNA genetic fingerprinting techniques have been used to develop a database of fingerprints of materials in the USDA collection for use in unknown cultivar identification.

An informal collaboration among the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project, historic orchards of Wyoming (both through USDA Specialty Crop Research Grants), Yosemite and Redwood National Parks, as well as El Dorado National Forest is underway to identify locally important historic apple cultivars. This effort seeks to use known historic cultivars in the USDA- ARS National Plant Germplasm System Apple Collection—as well as selected varieties in collections at Washington State University and the Temperate Orchard Conservancy (Oregon)—as standards to determine the identities of unknown apples.

Leaf tissue from key historic apple trees was sent to the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado. A graduate student from the University of Wyoming has been extracting DNA from these leaf samples and will be preparing the extracts for fingerprinting analyses. Molecular markers, termed “microsatellites”, will be used to compare the genetic identities of the unknown (or tentatively named) cultivars to those in known collections. We hope to be able to identify many of the grafted materials that were previously unknown. This method of genetic testing will only yield cultivar names for grafted varieties; therefore, historic trees that originated from seedling sources will likely remain unidentified.

Publications that relate to this work are: One is a publication by Kanin Routson, Ann Reilley, Adam Henk and Gayle Volk titled “Identification of Historic Apple Trees in the Southwestern United States and Implications for Conservation” (HortScience 2009. 44:589-594) and another was  published by Gayle Volk and Adam Henk “Historic American Apple Cultivars: Identication and Availability” (J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 2016. 141:292-301).

Preservation through Documentation

Historic Orchards Mapped by MORP

This is an old post. For updated information GO HERE

Click here to expand map view.

Please take a virtual tour or some of Colorado’s historic orchards. DO NOT VISIT THESE ORCHARD LOCATIONS WITHOUT CONTACTING MORP FIRST TO RECEIVE ORCHARD OWNER PERMISSION.

MORP Mapping and Database Workflow in Brief

Preservation through Documentation: MORP maps historic orchards using GIS methods backed up by old fashioned, hand drawn grid maps. In addition to old trees we map associated historical features such as homestead houses and cellars, and tools of the trade like presses, boxes, and ladders. Ideally, even before mapping work begins, MORP creates an orchard narrative to include contact information, general condition of the orchard, and most importantly interview notes with the orchard owner capturing as much historical information connected to the orchard site as possible. Memories of orchard owners and their families have become as important to us as the rare genetics; together they create a powerful story. All this information is collected on paper and entered into the MORP Orchard Database along with GPS points, field notes, historical research, and photographs. We automatically back up our work on external drives several times a day.

MORP’s Tools of the TradeFileMaker Platform ~ This is a powerful software for creating custom databases and apps that work seamlessly across iPhone, iPad, Windows, Mac, and the Web. MORP currently has an individual FileMaker Pro license, and wonders if a Team Cloud option might be a good choice to best collaborate and share information with fellow fruit explorer groups. MORP uses Filemaker to manage several databases such as the MORP Orchard Database as described above, and our Old Colorado Apples Database where we collect information on all varieties historically grown in Colorado to include their current status of lost, endangered, rare, or common; and whether they are available, and if so, where. We also manage and organize our photos using FileMaker. We use a unique 7 digit identifier beginning with three unique letter combinations to connect all data from each individual orchard to it’s associated record/orchard number. On our mobile devices we use FileMaker Go app to collect information in the field.

Arrow 100 Subfoot GNSS ~ MORP recently switched from using an outdated, professional grade, handheld GPS unit to using a high accuracy GNSS receiver with iPhone as the collection device . Although our old unit worked fine, the software to go along with it was no longer supported. Also, we are able to get back to source tree with ease and accuracy using this new workflow; before, we often had to refer to our hand drawn maps to best get back to point.

From our research, mobile device paired via bluetooth with GNSS is the trend now that high accuracy, real time, world wide receivers have become affordable; and applications on mobile device now can keep your collection software from becoming outdated. Esri Collector app on mobile device is used to upload maps on mobile to collect your data in the field such as feature ID, coordinates, field notes, and photos. In order to use Esri Collector you need to have an Esri Online account and possibly ArcGIS Desktop to customize your data collection field attributes, create maps, and manage and analyze data; ArcDesktop is the foundation application for our GIS work. If you are a Mac user you will need to install Parallels or similar software to run ArcDesktop on Mac. If you are a non-profit an annual license for ArcGIS is very affordable. Multiple users can be added which might be something for fellow fruit explorer groups to consider to best collaborate and share information. 

MORP fellow fruit exploring groups in Colorado are Apple Core Project in Norwood, Widespread Malus and the Boulder Apple Tree Project in Boulder, and Heritage Fruit Tree Project in Basalt. We hope you are as heritage-fruit-crazy as we all are! Really, every historic fruit district in Colorado, and nearly every state in our union, needs at least one orchard project. Get started today!

 

MORP Old-Fashioned Newsletter, Fall 2016

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MORP Tree Guarantee and Planting Advice for Colorado

MORP TREE GUARANTEE

Thank you for sharing our passion for growing heritage trees. We hand-graft each tree for you in order to spread these rare and historic varieties across Colorado and beyond. Our tree sales are also a source of revenue to help support our non-profit efforts to keep Colorado “Orchard Country”. We thank you.      

We guarantee that our trees are healthy at the time of purchase. We further guarantee that trees are living things and that there are many ways to kill them. We gladly offer feedback and advice, but not refunds or replacements – EXCEPT for at the time of PICKUP. If you have unresolved concerns please let us know BEFORE you take your trees home. If we are not available at the time of pickup, leave behind any trees you are not happy with and we will refund you. Please “talk tree care” with us anytime before or after your purchase. Your success is important to us.

Even if planting a tree or an orchard is often an act of perseverance, in our county alone, we still find growing – thousands of trees 100 years or older. So, please plant a tree today for our future, and in honor of the hard work of our early fruit growers!

MORP PLANTING ADVICE:

    • Trees are happiest in the ground, not in a pot, so plant immediately for best success.
    • Select a site with good soil drainage and good air flow. Avoid cold sinks.
    • Space standard apple trees 25 feet or more apart; semi dwarf 15 feet or more; dwarf 8 feet or less
    • Dig hole 2-3 times wider than the rootball and just deep enough to allow graft union to be several inches above soil line to keep traits of rootstock.
    • Do not add hot compost, manure, or fertilizer to planting hole. Back fill with native soil mixed with one third composted compost or quality potting soil. Water in and tap down air pockets. Mulch with no more than 1-2” of compost per year.
    • Protect your tree from deer, rodents, bear, and other mechanical damage. Good fence and tree guards are essential. Paint lower south trunk with plain white latex paint diluted with 50% water to protect from sun scald. Some tree guards will also serve this purpose. Reposition tree stakes, guards, limb spacers, ID tags, etc., EVERY year.
    • Proper watering is key. Takes experience to learn as needed amount/frequency depends on the weather & site conditions, age & condition of tree, season & dormancy, and other factors. Rule of thumb: MULCH & water slowly and DEEPLY to get water down and out into the soil profile, ~20 gallons per time. Repeat when the top of the soil begins to dry. Flood, drip, or micro sprinklers are best. Overhead watering causes disease and sunburn and often does not water deep enough. Water more frequently to establish a tree (up to 3x per week in the heat of summer). Decrease frequency as trees establish (~ 1x every other week for mature trees). Remember to water newer trees 1x per dry winter months.

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Montezuma County Apple Market Study

The market has returned for Montezuma Valley Fruits with consumers desire for the taste and heritage our local apples represent. Click links below describing market opportunities and challenges in the following documents 1) Montezuma Valley Apple Market Study, 2) Needs Assessment for Mobile Juicing Unit, 3) Feasibility Study for Mobile Juicing Unit, and 4) Business Plan for Producing Apple Juice with a Mobile Juicing Unit 

Finalrev - Updated MORP Market Study - January 2018

http://montezumaorchard.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Finalrev-Updated-MORP-Market-Study-January-2018.pdf

CapLog - MORP - Needs Assessment - Final - Updated Jan 17

http://montezumaorchard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/CapLog-MORP-Needs-Assessment-Final-Updated-Jan-17.pdf

MORP Feasibility Study - Feb 5 2018 copy 2

Click to access MORP-Feasibility-Study-Feb-5-2018-copy-2.pdf

Finalrev - MORP Biz Plan - Mar 26

http://montezumaorchard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Finalrev-MORP-Biz-Plan-Mar-26.pdf

 

Montezuma Valley Fruits
Montezuma Valley Fruits

 

Mobile Juicing Service

Mobile Juicing Service
Mobile Juicing Service