A Spring Full of Worry
To say this has been an unsettling spring weather-wise is a major understatement. Tree fruit buds got growing early this spring in response to an incredibly warm March. Several hard frosts that followed have many wondering just what kind of crop we will harvest come summer and fall.
Apples are our main tree fruit crop in New Hampshire and there has been freeze damage in some areas. Site has played a large role in bud survival to date. Low pockets where cold air is trapped on frosty mornings are where damage is worst while those sites with great air drainage, those with good elevation relative to surrounding land, have fared quite well.
Complicating the apple picture is that many trees do not have as many flower buds as we would like. Normally we thin apples just after bloom to improve fruit size and insure a return bloom the following spring. Weather during bloom last spring was so wet that most growers were left wondering when if at all bees had a chance to pollinate flowers. We did less thinning of the apple crop as a result and perhaps that has played a role in reducing the bloom this year.
Peaches have been largely spared any damage so far, perhaps because we are so careful when selecting sites for peach orchards. Bees are not essential for a peach crop. Peach flowers are perfect (contain both male and female parts) and all commercial varieties are self fruitful so wind action is usually enough to do the job.
Bill Lord, April 17, 2012
Posted: April 17th, 2012 under Fruit Growers Journal.