Finishing the orchard cleanup took priority the last days of March. The warmer days of late March and early April encouraged the peach trees to come out of dormancy and begin their bloom. April 2nd was the day when the entire peach orchard reached “full bloom.” As always it was a beautiful sight to behold. Several business acquaintances brought extra hives of bees to place in the orchard to help the pollination process and there was a constant humming as the bees flew from blossom to blossom. As they were working the blossoms they were unknowingly helping the development of our peach crop. We did experience below freezing temperatures on the 30th of March, but not too much crop damage was realized.
The apple trees have also progressed during the past 10 days. Nothing can stop Mother Nature when it is time for bloom. Although about ten days earlier than usual, certain varieties of apples are in full bloom with the later varieties not far behind.
There are stages of bloom and these stages never change. First there is bud swell and that is self explanatory. The fruit bud on each limb begins to swell and shows life. After bud swell, there is “tight cluster.” This is the stage of the fruit buds coming out of their “jackets” which has been their winter protection. “Pink” is the buds actually showing the early stages of development and is right before bloom. Bloom is the appearance of the apple blossoms on the limbs. Full bloom is the emergence of the entire flower and it is vibrant and “full.” Bloom and full bloom are the stages of development when it is necessary to have bees work in the orchard as pollinators. The size of the crop is dependent on good pollination. While the bees are an integral factor in pollination, good weather conditions are just as important. Too high temperatures, too much rain, too much wind, all of these create a negative impact on fruit pollination. So far, the extended weather forecast does look favorable for our area.
The pick-your-own orchard that was newly planted last year is looking good. We have been putting in extra hours to control the weeds and cultivate. We make a serious effort to limit our use of herbicides, especially in these young trees as they are still vulnerable at this point. We continue to formulate strategies to have this opportunity available to our customers in four years. We take it one step at a time. As I always say, we are the caretakers, nature determines the rate of progress.