What’s Happening in the Orchard? – April 2019

April is here and it finally looks like spring might be here to stay. I am sure there will be a few weather glitches along the way, but we will take them over the 12 plus inches of snow we still had on the ground in March. We are getting ready for bloom which will happen late this month or early in May. This is the time of year that we like to see those flowers appear. Not too early which puts them at risk for spring frost damage and not too late which makes the flowers susceptible to unseasonal warm temperatures.

So, when are those flower buds that bloom in April and May developed? Well they actually started to form last year as the 2018 crop developed. The condition of last years crop dictates the development of the 2019 crop. If the previous year’s crop was heavy, more of the tree’s energy is directed at the development of that crop and less energy is directed to the development of next year’s flower buds. This is known as alternate bearing meaning one year may have a heavy crop and the next year may be lighter or possibly no crop at all.

So how do you work with the tree to ensure that you have a crop every year. The alternate bearing characteristic can be a variety dependent characteristic meaning a particular variety is just predisposed to bear one year and very little or none the next. To combat this phenomenon, one needs to thin the fruit. Reduce the number of fruits on the tree so energy is directed at the development of next year’s flower buds. Reducing the fruit numbers not only directs more energy to developing next years crop but it also results in larger fruit developing on the tree.

So, once again I would also like to take this opportunity to invite everyone out to visit Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard. We strive to make it a new experience each time you visit us. We guarantee that there is always something new to learn or see at Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard.

Vaughn Hammond –Orchard Operations and Education Team Leader

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