Today is March 24. Last year at this time, I believe our peaches were blooming after the warmest winter in memory, and we were worried sick that a return to a normal weather pattern would bring a freeze that would surely wipe out our crop. In fact, that is exactly what happened to our friends in Michigan, New York, and even just a hundred miles north of us. Michigan lost something like 90% of their cherries, and almost all of their apples; it was the most impactful freeze in decades causing prices to spike and buyers to scramble for supplies. So despite a short cherry crop for us, things turned out OK after all. Dad always said it was better to be lucky than good.
But that was then. This year has been abnormally cool, and strangely enough, most fruit farmers are OK with that. It means that the odds are a little better in our favor. Because when things really do thaw, there is a lower probability of a cold snap while those blossoms are in a delicate state.
The cool weather has also given us a chance to finish pruning. In the winter, we prune our apple trees to remove all of the growth that has occured in the “wrong’ places. Apples grow best when exposed to sunlight and only by vigorous pruning can we keep them sunny. We’re running a little behind this year and welcome the extra couple weeks of dormancy. Once the buds begin to break, we’ll be on Mother Nature’s clock and will need to move quickly to the next phase of fruit production: thinning and disease prevention. But I’ll talk about that later when we’re in that season.
For now, we’re thankful for the extra time off.