Rain, rain, go away
May/22/2011 07:00 PM Filed in: orchard
We have had rain, fog, and drizzle almost steady for the last week, right during peak bloom for most of our trees. This leaves us to worry about pollinators - will our hardy native bumblebees, mason bees, and other native species be up to the task in the cold and damp? We are thankful we are not reliant on honeybees, which are not as willing to go out in cold weather. At least some of the blossoms I checked today were pollinated, as the little swollen base of the dying-back flower can attest.
Our other concern is the fungal disease scab, since we are right in the middle of the primary infection period for that disease. Scab spores can only infect the apple leaves when wet for a certain number of hours in a row, so this time of year we spray our scab-susceptible varieties with sulfur when we expect a sufficient wetting period. We are not sure what a week-long wetting period means for scab infection, though it’s quite possible that a higher-than-average percentage of spores were able to infect leaves due to sulfur washing off the trees. Fortunately all of our pick-your-own varieties are scab-immune, so we should have a good crop despite this. Also, last year was an exceptionally low scab year owing to little rain during the infection period, so there should be fewer scab spores available than in many years. We will look for signs of scab infection over the next week or two.
Today I took advantage of a short break in the rain to ruthlessly cut off the flowers growing on our one-year-old trees. We need these tiny trees to invest in roots and wood, not fruit, so must get rid of their flowers before they spend too much energy on them. I was happy to see ladybug larvae and spiders patrolling the trees already. I didn’t see any aphids for the ladybugs to eat, but there were some insects like tarnished plant bugs and one ant for the spider to live on. Go predators go!