The winter orchard
Feb/09/2013 07:28 AM Filed in: orchard
So far this winter, we have had a lot of cold weather, some of it when there is snow on the ground but also when the ground was mostly bare. Before we started taking care of the orchard, we noticed that some years insect damage was worse than others, and thought that cold periods when the ground was bare might have some connection to that. Given that many of our pest species overwinter in the top few inches of the ground, cold without snow to insulate the ground could kill a lot of overwintering pests. If this is true, the coming season might have quite low pest pressure. This would impact plum curculio, codling moth, voles, and possibly apple and peach borer. I sure hope it works that way!
As for the mammal pests, we have new fox tracks in the orchard every day, and a big mink has taken up residence, so that should reduce the number of voles and rabbits for next season. I got to see the mink kill a rabbit right in our front yard, and we found another he had probably stashed in a snowbank. I say he, since it is mostly male minks that kill rabbits - they are bigger than females. This mink is very dark sable, almost black, so is very noticeable in a snowy world. He also got into the chicken coop one night and killed one of my chickens, but we buttoned up the coop and he has not gotten in again.