Fifth Crow Specialty Apples and Pears

Our orchard began before Fifth Crow was even an idea…

John recruited Mike to help select and plant apple trees intended to be grown in Chehalis, WA on his grandpa’s farmland. They went to the apple master, Orin Martin, whom both John and Mike had studied under in the CASFS farm apprenticeship in Santa Cruz. Even though the trees were selected to grow in WA, they had all been grown in Santa Cruz and were suitable for the coastal climate. John and Mike hand grafted all the trees onto semi-dwarfing root stock and took them to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur where John was at that time managing the Esalen farm. The trees spent their first winter there before John, Mike, & Teresa decided to lease farmland here in Pescadero, which is now officially Fifth Crow Farm’s apple orchard.

How did we choose varieties?

The tree varieties were selected to provide amazing flavor, rather than high yield or commercial viability. We included both early and late producing varieties to extend our apple harvest season from mid-summer into late fall. From a business prospective we knew that farmers’ market customers would respond to uniqueness and flavor over your typical grocery store varieties. Fifth Crow has an unusual collection of apples that you’ll never see in a grocery store. Many of our apple trees are rare, heirloom, and heritage varieties.

We chose to graft the trees onto semi-dwarfing root stock to create a pedestrian orchard where you can pick the fruit standing on the ground without the use of ladders. This orchard style has benefits in efficiency of labor, but also can fit far more trees in per acre, allowing us to grow many more varieties than we could in a full sized orchard on our land. However, that means the individual trees have a lower yield, so smaller quantities will go to market at a time. When you find a variety you love savor it – we may only have it for a couple weeks!

How do we care for our orchard?

We do both a summer and a winter pruning, fertilize twice per year, regularly weed and mulch around the trees, and irrigate throughout the summer months. For pest management, we use pheromone traps to confuse coddling moths, and Tanglefoot once a year which is a sticky compound that is applied around the lower foot of the tree trunk to create a barrier for crawling insects. We do not use any sprays. The biggest pest pressure in our orchard are the birds.

Our apple varieties

Pear Varieties