Monday, April 9, 2012

So far, so good

The inevitability of frost in April caught up this week with the delusions of a record-hot March. Most flowering plants have been blooming two to three weeks earlier than usual. This gives rise to a vernal headiness, excitement shot through with anxiety. Everyone wonders: Will we lose all the fruit?  

The short answer from our observation around here is so far, so good. A great deal of stone fruit like cherries is already beading up. A lot of apples were just passing pollination, when the insects cease working the trees and the seed forms. Every day it makes a little more sugar and gains a bit more frost resistance.

A real freeze in the 20s could still wreak havoc, but frost is a surface condition rather than a thermal fact. We don’t understand how, but frost seems to develop at dawn or in the wee hour,s even when the temperature is above 32 degrees. Can somebody explain this brush with loss we often see in the late spring?

Two apple trees in Hinton show their endurance after two nights of frost. 
On the right a ‘Wolf River’ already has tiny pinheads of green seed. If it 
turns brown, the fruit has been lost. The left tree is still being actively worked 
by thousands of insects, proving its pollination is proceeding.

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