It’s time for the annual Rifftides apple crop outlook, with evidence snapped this week on a cycling expedition.
Stacks of bins the size of apartment complexes sit waiting to be filled with what Executive Director Jon DeVaney of the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association says will be a “good-sized crop of high quality.” He predicted to the Yakima Herald-Republic that Washington State’s apple farmers will harvest 140 million boxes of apples, an increase of eight-and-a-half percent over last year’s record 129 million. Picking has begun on a few farms. The full-fledged harvest will get underway after Labor Day. It won’t be long before the 2014 crop begins showing up at your corner grocery store. There must still be corner grocery stores somewhere.
Increasing numbers of growers are using the espalier method developed long ago by French and English farmers who bent branches horizontally and controlled them with frames. They discovered that they could channel the trees’ energy away from random vertical growth into producing spurs that lengthen, flower and eventually produce fruit.
If you are a hardened Rifftides reader, you may suspect that this is another stealth effort to work our way into a piece of music. That is only partly true. As one who grew up in apple country and left it to wander around the country committing journalism, I’m happy to be back. I love to watch apples grow and, of course, to eat them. But, there are so many fine versions of Charlie Parker’s classic “Scrapple From the Apple” that it would be foolish to pass up an opportunity to play one. Here’s Stan Getz in a 1966 BBC program, with Gary Burton, vibes; Steve Swallow, bass; and Roy Haynes, drums.
Getz ended with an introduction, so we found what he introduced. Here with “Sunset Bell” is Gary Burton, as remarkable at the age of 23 in 1966 as he is 48 years later. You’ll want to turn up your speakers for this.