The so-called “training” of fruit trees is still relatively new, but Travis is a convert to the practice of directing the shape and growth of trees. He not only plants his trees closer together than growers did in previous eras — this reduces the amount of space he must control for weeds and pests — but he also directs their growth virtually straight up with a trellis system, reaching heights up to 13 feet. This creates almost a “solid hedge of trunk and leaves,” which are exposed to maximum sunlight and greater air circulation, both of which help reduce fungus.
Other diseases, of course, may arise during the growing season, and Travis may be forced to use a National Organic Program-approved spray to eliminate them. (Organic sprays are a whole other story, because people such as Waterpenny Farm’s Plaksin say the sprays can contain chemicals such as sulfur or copper that can be bad for the environment.) Weeds are also a major issue for orchards because growers can’t use herbicides such as Roundup. Instead, they’ll rely on hoeing machines or natural products, such as the one derived from lemon grass that Travis uses, to burn the tops of weeds.