Spring Dreams 2016

April 9, 2016

Suncrest_Blooms_2015.jpg

 One year ago we were surrounded by the promise of the coming season’s fruit crop, our orchard was blanketed with blooms.  An exceptionally warm January and February brought on an early 2015 bloom, around a month ahead of average.  Besides blooming early, just about the whole orchard, peaches, apples, cherries and plums, all burst out of their winter dormancy and flowered at the same time, when they would typically take turns and bloom in progression.  For about two weeks, we hoped for an abundant, early crop, knowing that the early bloom was incredibly vulnerable.  The night of April 15, those hopes were frozen in their tracks.  Temperatures dropped to well below critical by midnight.  Wind machines help save tender buds and blooms from a killing frost, but they can only minimize the effect of perhaps 5o of cold temperatures for a few hours.  We were at 19o  with many hours to go before sunrise.  It took a few weeks for the degree of the damage to be evident.  When it was, it took a few more weeks for the reality to sink in.  The whole valley lost nearly the entire year’s fruit crop, the worst frost damage in at least 20 years.    Still, some of the peach blossoms survived, especially the hardy redhaven, as well as a light crop of our honey crisp apples.  So we made the best of the fruit we had, tended the trees and controlled the pests, minimized our hired labor to cut costs, and got through the year.   It’s April again, the plums have shown their pure white blooms, the pink flowers of the peaches are perhaps a week away.  On cold nights Frank wakes hourly to check the temperature, the breeze, the clouds, to judge when burning propane to run the wind machines is likely to provide some benefit.  And we hope for an abundant crop for 2016.