GIPUZKOA IN SPRING: PARADISE OF APPLE TREES’ FLOWERS
“Martxoko lorea ez balitz hobea, apirileko lorea urrea baino hobea ta maiatzeko lorea batez baino hobea.”
A typical quote in the Gipuzkoan cider culture, you will hear it every year when spring arrives in the mouths of the baserritarrak (farmers) that grow apples and produce basque natural cider. The literal translation of the phrase is: "It is better not to have flowers in March, April’s flowers are better than golda and flowers in May are better than not having a single one.”
This saying so deeply rooted in our region speaks of the importance of flowering apple trees at the right time, since flowering too early could directly affect apple production.
In addition to the blossoming, in spring a phenomenon arises without which we would not have apple production: pollination. Do you know which insect plays an essential role in our apple orchards? The bees. This small insect that many run away from is essential for apple production, since they are in charge of pollinating the flowers.
What is flower pollination? It is a natural process that takes place every year in spring. It is done thanks to bees, who transport pollen from one flower to another. When bees land on a flower to feed on its nectar, the pollen on the anthers of that flower is left on their legs; therefore, this pollen will be carried to the next flower. The pollen will stay on the stigma of the next flower, and from here the pollen will go down to the ovary, thus causing the fertilization. From this fertilization the seeds will emerge that will stimulate the development of the fruit.
Therefore, without pollination there will be no development of the fruit and, obviously, there will not be a good harvest of apples either. In addition, we must take into account that it is estimated that almost 90% of this pollination is carried out thanks to bees. For this reason it is very important that we take care of them.
Having said this, we focus on the impressive landscape that emerges in the Gipuzkoan spring thanks to the blossoming of the apple trees. Everyone knows that Gipuzkoa is the cider-producing region par excellence of the Basque Country; and to produce the number of liters of natural cider that we make, we need apples. Our province is dotted with beautiful apple orchards wherever you go.
In Gipuzkoa, there are around a thousand hectares of apple trees and more than 500 varieties of local apples for making our precious cider. With the arrival of spring, these hundreds of cider apple fields turn white and pink, thus turning our region into a “Hanami” (as they call it in Japan).
You already have a plan, come to our apple orchards! Those that are cared for with so much love and effort by local families. The cider houses themselves and Sagardoa Route organize guided tours and different activities in the apple orchards. It is a truly unique experience that combines a beautiful rural landscape tinged pink and white, with local culture and history. You will learn to appreciate these trees thanks to which hundreds of Gipuzkoan families have survived for centuries, making apple juice and cider with their fruit.
Dive into an apple orchard this spring! Learn about the natural processes of apple trees, about their flowers, their fruit, the small animals that live in it... Apple trees have helped our families for hundreds of years and now it's up to us to learn how to care for them.
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