Owner Richard Murphy shows off Zestar apples, an early variety, at Lane Road Orchard in New Sharon. Apple picking will be offered weekends from late August through early November. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser Buy this Photo

NEW SHARON — Richard and Rebecca Murphy bought 25 acres at 258 Lane Road in 2003, built a home that year and planted the first apple trees in 2004. Now there are 150 trees of at least 51 varieties in different stages of maturity.

“Most of the trees are semi-dwarf, particularly M7 rootstock,” Richard said during a recent tour of the orchard. “It’s kind of the workhorse of the Northeast.”

A lot of the varieties are recognizable such as wolf river, a large heirloom apple used for making pies, and macoun, he said.

An apple variety at Lane Road Orchard in New Sharon is showing some color June 18. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser Buy this Photo

“I have a lot of the new, low disease varieties like zestar, William’s pride,” Murphy said. “The list is on the website. It states how many trees, what year planted and what it is used for. It’s a big comprehensive table of what’s out here.”

The orchard was designed for Murphy’s retirement. An engineer in electronics and a Navy veteran, he retired last year.

“I thought, ‘Let’s build an orchard where people want to come because I have so many different kinds of apples’,” Murphy said. “I’m not going to grow acres and acres of MacIntosh. They’re everywhere. I have all the special varieties from countries around the world, antiques, heirlooms and new college varieties with low disease.

“On U-Pick days, I get families show up with their kids, get their bag and head off into the orchard and have a wonderful time,” he noted. “I like it when families arrive. I also tell them, ‘If it’s an apple you’ve never tried before and you’re curious, pick one off the tree and try it.’ A single apple here and there isn’t going to make a difference. I like to make them feel good about it.”

Zestar, William’s pride and pristine will be available at the start of the season. Macouns, honeycrisp and wolf river varieties ripen later in the season.

“They’re spread out like that on purpose so people can continue to come here all season,” Murphy said.

When people come to pick, they are given a map of where all the trees are with ripe varieties circled. Behavioral suggestions are listed on the other side.

The apples are raised conventionally. They are sprayed to prevent insect and disease damage. Chemical thinning in the spring means fewer, bigger apples per tree. Apples are a challenging crop to raise because there are so many insects and diseases that affect them.

Large red balls covered with a sticky substance will soon be put out in the orchard. A part of an Integrated Pest Management system, they trap apple maggot flies which mistake the colorful balls for apples. Orchardists use the trapped flies to determine when enough of them are in the orchard to affect the crop. Using the system can delay the start of spraying and reduce the number of sprays needed.

“Apple maggot is my No. 1 nemesis,” Murphy said. “They go from apple to apple to apple. One little fly can wipe out your trees.”

Aronia, also called chokeberry is grown at Lane Road Orchard in New Sharon. The berries are used to make jelly, syrup and wine. It is not suitable for eating fresh. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser Buy this Photo

Aronia is another crop grown by Murphy. Somewhat unknown, it is also called chokeberry and has black berries that grow in clumps, he said. No spraying is needed, he noted.

“They taste horrible (fresh),” Murphy stressed. “They are made into jelly, jam, syrup and wine. They’re known for their medicinal value. They’re very high in antioxidants and anthocyanin (antho meaning plant and cyanin a color between red and blue). The wine is like a red wine. The stuff I make is fruity, strong and sweet.”

Tables are set out on weekends to sell jelly and syrup made from aronia berries and apples.

Murphy also does grafting. Since cross pollination (transfer of pollen from one variety to a different variety of the same type of tree) is needed for an apple to grow, seeds will not produce the same type of apple they came from. To produce a tree with a known apple variety, a scion (young branch) from a known variety is inserted into the branch of another apple tree and once it starts to grow, the branches from the original tree are removed. More than one apple variety can be grafted onto a single tree.

Some of the grafted trees will be available for sale either next spring or the one following, Murphy said.

“It takes patience,” Murphy said. He also referred to comments made by politician Michael Bloomberg who implied farming doesn’t take intelligence in 2016.

“There is some work, knowledge to this,” Murphy said.

Lane Road Orchard is open for apple picking on weekends from late August through early November.

For more information visit laneroadorchard.com, the orchard’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Lane-Road-Orchard-773846012660438/ or call Murphy, 774-265-0614.


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