Fingers tightly crossed; will we have a crop of apples this year?
It is generally agreed that if the blossom period goes quickly, we can anticipate a good crop; well this year's blossom has hung on for as long as I can remember. This does not auger well for the 2010 crop potential. As I mentioned last week, the EPP (Effective pollination period) is critical in turning a beautiful flower into a young apple. I guess we will not know for sure until early June the consequences of the low temperatures throughout the blossom period. In days gone by, the older 'wiser' members of our fraternity would say, 'wait until after Derby Day' before letting your emotions run wild; in those days the race was run on the first Wednesday in June; It is still good advice.
Looking around many orchards this week, I have found a variable picture. Severe frost damage on one farm; but generally a confusing mix of fruitlet development.
Even where frost has caused havoc, we may see a crop of some sort, however it is likely to produce fruit with a russetted appearance, probably with cracking as well.; suitable only for making juice.
At this time of year routine tasks keep us occupied; it is important to maintain our spray programme or scab and mildew can easily creep in and cause costly damage later in the season. We rely heavily on our Agronomist who spends every day walking orchards on farms across the county and sometimes several counties, to spot any potential pests. These 'guys' develop a very keen eye and their skills are invaluable.
During my travels this week I spotted some 'apple blossom weevil' damage.
Years ago when DDT was a routine insecticide, we never saw it. It's emergence can cause serious damage as it eats the centre of the flower and although its progress is initially slow, unchallenged it will 'creep' up on us and suddenly cause serious loss of crop. It can be spotted by the dead petals which never open forming a 'brown cap' inside is this little weevil
On a more enjoyable note, mowing the orchards is in my opinion one of the more enviable tasks. Way back in my youth I would spend most of the early summer months mowing all day long. The smell of new mown grass was and still is invigorating to my senses. In those days, when trees were larger and further apart, with no weedkillers used, it was necessary to 'cross mow' each orchard.
These days the task is less time consuming as the grass strip is dealt with in one pass of the mower.
The English Apple Man will be on holiday from 26th May until 9th June.
The weekly Journal will be published as usual, but will be predominately a pictorial gallery.
The English Apple Man