Just when you think things are going to be a bit more normal, this happens. Sunday we had another storm with wind and hail and it has taken out at least 50-60% of this years crop! Im starting to sound like a broken record. This is the 3rd time in the last 3 years that the weather has played a major role in what we are trying to do. Alot of the trees have shredded leaves and broken branches. The storm didnt last too long but it still can do damage that's for sure! There may be some apples that are ok, but it will take a month or so for me to go through each tree and see. Alot of the apples have dents or holes in them and they will rot by the time they would be ripe for picking. Those that survived may be ok for applesauce or pies but again time will tell. I am trying to stay positive through all this and at some point, we will have a normal year. I just keep telling myself that! Anyway, I will keep and eye on things and in about a month I will have a better grasp of what we will have this fall. We may have some seconds but they will still taste just as good. And who knows, we may even have some normal apples once I get to digging around in the trees. Fingers crossed and I'll keep you posted!
Phase 2 has arrived. That is better known as the fruit set. First we had the bloom period and now we have the fruit set. Right now, the apples are about the size of a pea or a nickel on some of the trees. We then will have what's known as the June drop. Thats when the tree thins itself out and gets rid of a pretty good amount of the apples. The tree seems to know what it can handle. Those that remain will become this falls crop. I usually go out and hand thin trees that are extra heavy with fruit. Too much fruit on a tree can hurt it and certain varieties are better at this than others. This is also the time when bugs decide that they also like apples. I put alot of traps in the orchard and because I also raise bees, I am very particular about what I spray on my trees. I usr an organic pesticide that only gets the caterpillars that I am after and doesn't hurt the bees at all. The trees get stressed by all sorts of things and last nights storm wasn't any different. We lost a bunch of trees because of it. It didnt last too long but the trees we lost were snapped off like a tornado had come through. The last few years have been a test of patience for sure and this summer seems to be no different. We just need to pray for a decent amount of rain and a few less storms. I guess when we all look at it, this summer seems to be like the last few. We made it through those and I'm sure we can make it through this one too!
It might be a few weeks late but the bloom has arrived! About half the orchard is blooming today, which is a good thing. Under normal circumstances, the trees usually flower around the opening of fishing. This year, they are about 2-3 weeks behind. But based on what I am seeing this weekend, I would say that we will have some apples this fall. The big question remains as to how many will we have? The Honey Crisp still haven't begun to flower yet and the State Fair which is usually one of the first to bloom, still hasn't flowered yet either. Time will tell and that's one of the things I enjoy about the orchard, you just never know. I've been doing this for along time now and every year, its different!
The bees are also off to a better start compared to last year. The dandelions this year are everywhere and that's gives them a huge boost early on. Also, now that the apples are beginning to bloom, the bees are in heaven! I always tell people to leave your dandelion alone and let them do their thing. They only last a few weeks and then they are gone. But they give a huge boost of food to all pollinators. Walking into the orchard today, with the smell of the apple blossoms and bees everywhere, it just doesn't get much better than this. Its something that just doesn't happen all that often so we need to enjoy it while its here because just like that...it will be gone for another year.
The season is underway and as it has been the last few years, the weather is playing with us.....again. Under normal circumstances, the trees usually are blooming this weekend. Right now, they are about 1-2 weeks away from that happening. The picture I put up is of a Chestnut Crab which is usually the first to bloom each year. As you can see, they are getting close, but still a week or better from bloom. I will put up some pictures of the trees when they are in full bloom, as it is quite the site to see. The bees will be in heaven when it happens.
The bees are also doing there best and I'm always amazed at how they are able to find pollen, but then that's what they do. Trees that should have bloomed a month ago are just now blooming. Maple and oak trees. are what they are finding now. I planted about an acre of wild flowers and between that, the apples and the dandelions which are about to pop, the bees should be fine. Lets hope and pray that this summer will be a more normal one and that the rain will happen more like it should. If all goes well, we will have a good crop this fall. Fingers crossed and here's hooping!
Frost, Heat and Drought have caused the Perfect Storm and because of that we will not have apples this fall!
1st. Frost and Freezing Temps.
Very warm temps in early April were a lot higher than they should have been both North and South. Huge temperature swings caused many orchards to have frost damage and loose the majority of their crop.
2nd. 90 degree Heat
Our trees are not programmed to have this type of heat in April and early May.
3rd. Drought We started spring with very dry conditions and have had very little if any rain.
We thought we were going to have one of the best crops we have had in quite a while. The trees had an easy winter and were loaded with fruit spurs which leads to more blossoms than you can imagine. Look at my last post both here and on Facebook and you will know what I mean. The bees were in heaven!
Now as of early June the trees have decided that they needed to save themselves so they aborted the majority of the fruit. This has happened in both the Northern and Southern parts of the states. After checking with several other orchards in different parts of the state I can tell you that this is what's happening. Some of this info has come from other orchards too. After checking our orchard the last few days, I found about 2 dozen apples on almost 400 trees. I may have missed a few but you get the idea. Our orchard is also irrigated but the I intense heat and lack of moisture is really hard on them. The bees also need the rain. Most of the flowers that should be blooming right now are not because it is so dry. Lets all keep our finger crossed that things will get better. A good rain would help us all. Maybe when fall gets here we will have a decent honey crop. Heres being hopeful and thankful!
And just like that, the bloom is done! In a normal year, the bloom lasts 10 days to 2 weeks. This year, it was over in less than a week. Thinking back, we had temps in the high 70's in early April followed by the low 20's a week or so later. Thats really hard on apple trees. Once the buds begin to wake up, low temps like that kills them. It doesn't hurt the tree, kit just means there wont be any fruit this year on those trees or very little. The early varieties seemed to have done well. The later ones...McIntosh, Sweet Sixteen, Haralson and Honey Crisp got hit pretty hard. They call that farming! At any rate, Im happy to get what we will get and large or small, we will have a good crop in the end. The bees are also doing well and between the apples and dandelions, they are as happy as can be. It wont be too long and the clover will start to show up a nd that makes some awfully good honey! Right now we need some sunshine and a little rain and everything will work out. In a couple weeks the apples will be about the size of a nickel and I'll be able to get a better look at the crop as a whole. I'll keep you posted!
Its been a while since I updated this so I thought today would be a good time. Right now the orchard is about 2 weeks or so from full bloom. We need warmer weather and a little rain would also help. The last 2 years have been a challenge to say the least. Last year we had a hard frost on Memorial Day weekend and the year before that had a hard frost on June 6th. Both of those took out quite a bit of our apples. I would like to see a more normal spring. But then wouldn't we all!
Right now the trees are at what's called a tight cluster. The flowers are beginning to show themselves. When that happens we need the temps to stay above 28. Bloom usually happens around the fishing opener, but as I said it hasn't been that way the last couple years. Maybe this year it will be or soon after. I'll keep my fingers crossed!
The bees also had a hard winter and my new bees showed up yesterday. The ones that made it through the winter are already leaps ahead of the rest. You can see all the pollen they are bringing in. The next major source of pollen will be the dandelions and then the apple trees. When the orchard is in full bloom and the bees are working the trees, its quite the sight. I can almost taste the honey now! Heres hoping it turns out to be a bit more normal this spring! I'll keep you posted.
And just like that, another year has come and gone in the orchard! Seems like we just started picking a few days ago. If I had to rate this year, I would give it about a 7. The weather has been odd and a challenge to say the least the last 2 years. But we have still managed to put up a decent crop of both apples and honey. There is always a positive, you just have to look for it! The trees are already setting their buds for next year so if we have a more normal spring, then the trees should do fine. I want to thank all of you who came out to the orchard this fall and also apologize to those of you who came out only to find out we had sold out already. In a normal year, the orchard would have made it another week or 2 but this year it was not to be. So thank you to all of you again and we will see you next fall!!
With a hard frost on the way we made the decision that this Saturday will be our last day of the season. We will be open from 10-5 on Saturday or until we sell out. We will. have Haralson and Snow Sweet. We will also have seconds for those of you who want to make pies or apple sauce. We will also have one last batch of cider. So if you want some, don't wait too long. We will have honey too.
With colder temps on the horizon, we decided to pick the last 20 or so trees because I don't want them to freeze. The weather has played an interesting role this year and you just have to go with the flow. Usually we make it a couple more weeks but not this year. I feel very fortunate to have had the crop we did, even with all the weird weather. But the weekend looks to be nice so stop out and have a hot cup of cider and enjoy our nice fall weather! See you this Saturday!!
Yesterday was a very busy day in the orchard and because of that we are making some changes today. The orchard will be open from noon-3 today, Sunday. We may close even earlier if we are busy again like yesterday...just a heads up. We picked a lot of apples yesterday and because of that we will have less available today. We will have Haralred and Haralson and a few McIntosh today. We will also have seconds available for those of you who want some. It also looks like some rain will be headed our way...again, which is another reason for the change of hours. Thank you to all who came out yesterday and picked! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.