Orchard is starting to bloom
May/14/2011 04:38 PM Filed in: orchard
With some warm weather, the trees are awakening, with flowers that are at the pink stage in most of the orchard. A few apple trees have even opened their blossoms, joining our plum and peach trees which are covered in flowers this year. We finally have accumulated enough degree-days to spray sulfur on our scab-susceptible trees, in preparation for the rain forecasted to fall tonight. With that rain, all the matured spores (like seeds) of the scab fungus will try to grow but the sulfur will prevent them from doing so. Meanwhile, many birds are courting and building nests in the orchard, including the bobolink and Baltimore oriole that we saw in the trees today. The oriole was busy hunting around the blossoms, presumably eating the little caterpillars we have seen that eat some blossoms before they can open. The more birds, the better! Even species that usually eat seeds or nectar feed insects to their young, so we are thrilled to have lots of nesting birds here for many reasons. Every year we see nests padded with wool from our sheep, very fun.
The orchard is in good shape, as we spent last weekend spreading bark mulch around the young trees and removing the big branches we pruned off earlier. Smaller branches remain in the orchard where we mow them to return their nutrients to the soil. Most of the trees are blossoming heavily, even our reluctant fruiters the Northern Spys. We’ll see if that translates into fruit set later on. A good start to the growing season.