Tag Archives: bloom

…Bet you wish you were outside this week

In case you missed it, the weather this week was fabulous.

Fruit Growers, like all farmers, spend a lot of time outside.  If you have to work outside a lot, you tend to really appreciate it when it isn’t really hot, cold, wet, or windy.  This was one of those weeks when it was pretty near perfect.

It was also the week the majority of our orchard reached full bloom.  All of our apple varieties have reached peak bloom except for the Rome Beauty, which are always last.  Our Red Delicious has had an exceptional bloom.  Posted here are some of the pictures I took while working this week out in the fields.  Apple Bloom

What the pictures don’t capture is the scent.  Apple blossoms are wonderfully fragrant, and when you put a million of those flowers in one place… well, it is kind of nice!

There is one other sense that you probably wouldn’t expect to be exercised in a blooming orchard.  It is the sound of bloom.  All of those little flowers are really there not for our enjoyment, but to fulfil the biological imperative of reproduction, and they need help.  The sound comes from all of the insects that find their way to the orchard and play their part in nature’s cycle.  Funny enough, the sound of these creatures has changed through the years.

We used to import domestic honey bees, but this has become increasingly expensive.  When I was young, we’d have dozens of hives around the orchard for a couple weeks and there was a constant droning sound in the apples.  But these days we rely more on native insects.  We are very (very) careful about the chemicals we use, and so far we’ve seen good results from all kinds of insects that you would normally not notice.  Bumblebees are the most conspicuous, but we see lots of smaller bees, flies, and other insects too.  They have a more diverse, and softer sound.

Hopefully they’ve been enjoying this nice weather too!

Yes, that's the front of a Ford tractor!

The spring bomb finally went off!

Our apricot block on Tuesday 4/16.

Our apricot block on Tuesday 4/16.

If you had told me last weekend that we’d have peaches in bloom in 4 days, I wouldn’t have believed it.  The usual pattern of bloom in our orchard is pretty simple: apricots come first and last for a few days, followed by a few days of plums, followed by a few varieties of peaches.  But this year, thanks to a record high temperature on Wednesday (90!) we experienced the whole cycle in 3 days.  Apricots were in full bloom Tuesday, plums on Wednesday, and our first peaches were blooming Thursday.  Wow!

Bloom has a big impact on the orchard.  First of all, it means that it is time to be done pruning (we’re not).  It means that the trees are highly vulnerable to disease from any passing shower (we had a 30 hour wetting period on Friday causing us to scramble to provide protection).  It means that we have a very narrow window of opportunity to try to blossom thin our peaches in order to reduce the hand thinning work that will need to be done later in the season.  And it also means that anything we are going to plant needs to be in the ground very soon, which means we are spreading lime, fertlizer, and marking rows.  Throw in two flat tires, a broken drive belt on the sprayer, and a few other mechanical issues, and needless to say, it was a really busy week.

With all of this work going on, it is easy to miss the beauty around us.  I was thinning some peach blossoms by hand when it occured to me that… well, it was a really “pretty” job.  Heck, some people might even pay to stand in an orchard of blooms on a bright sunny day and run their hands across the limbs to knock off a few flowers!

The weather forecast calls for a little more seasonal weather this week, which is fine with me.

I’d like to stop — ok, maybe just slow down — and smell the flowers a little, before they are all gone.