Farmer worries begin
May/31/2011 01:54 PM Filed in: orchard
We finally have some sunny, warm weather, and most of the trees are done flowering. We had really excellent flowers, but they bloomed right during a period of cold and wet - poor weather for pollinators. It looks like our midseason apples - so the vast majority of our fruit - had lowered rates of pollination, and our fruit set is lower than we’ve ever seen it. We are going to keep taking care of the fruit, but it’s possible that we will have a smaller crop this year. Certainly we have less thinning to do than most years. Our one late season variety, the Northern Spys, were covered with flowers this year - a first for us, and they bloomed later than the other varieties so may very well have fruit. We’ll see how they do this season, maybe we could even sell some! They have been extremely reluctant to fruit, preferring to become giant, impenetrable shrubs, but maybe years of ruthless pruning is finally having an effect.
We have started to spray clay on the trees to ward off plum curculio and other insect pests. The trees will be white for about a month, forcing plum curculio to lay their eggs in the fruit on our trap trees (a few scattered trees in the orchard that are not sprayed with clay). We can then collect the damaged fruit from those trees, reducing the numbers of plum curculio in the process. The clay must be re-applied every time it rains, so our current dry spell is welcome.
So, we will just have to see how things go - at least we have some fruit. We feel particularly grateful as we know another orchardist who has already been hit with heavy hail damage, and of course many orchards had little to no fruit due to a late frost last year. Hope must spring eternal, when you are a farmer.