For starters, the 2013 apple crop was a large one, and it was a hot summer. Apples reached the tipping point after several large crop years -- typically biennial apples such as Cameo, Golden Delicious, Goldrush, Honeycrisp and others which bore a large (too large!) crop of fruit in 2013 have a lot of "blanks" (no flower parts, see below) in 2014. And, by-and-large, bloom on other varieties such as McIntosh (our primary variety grown) is variable, but we will have fruit. Macoun looks good, while Cortland bloom was lacking at best? As apple bloom progressed, quite a few flower spurs with malformed buds and/or single blooms were observed -- what the heck? Theories abound, ranging from incomplete/late flower bud development last year, winter injury (although it did not get absolutely cold enough to suspect damage?), an April cold snap when the buds were pushing (although according to critical temperatures, damage should not have occurred)? Quite a few Honeycrisp flowers at the UMass Orchard in Belchertown had just one flower (see below). Apple bloom just did not look good. (Queasy feeling begins.) Although I was pessimistic (as usual, cup is half-empty) I kept thinking it usually turns out better than I expect, and indeed now that we are seeing fruit set (finally) it looks like there is actually potential for a good apple crop here, other than the exceptions already noted. Somewhat interesting, considering how wicked cold the winter was, is the fact we got through bloom with no real frost/freeze threat (except back in early April).
|Honeycrisp "blank" flower, 14-May, 2014 at UMass Orchard|
|Honeycrisp single flower, 14-May, 2014 at UMass Orchard|
|Good peach flower bud (top) and bad (winter injured) peach flower bud (bottom) |
at UMass Orchard, 5/14/14
|Rainier sweet cherry fruit set at UMass Orchard, 5/27/14|
|Winter-damage peach tree in eastern Massachusetts, 29-May, 2014|