Monday, May 12, 2008

Our Apple Tree in full Glory!

Bud well, bear well
God send you fare well;
Every sprig and every spray
A bushel of apples next New Year Day.

-19th century Worcestershire

Climate and Weather

Most hardy fruit trees need a certain amount of cold winter weather to end their dormancy and to promote spring growth. When winters are too mild, spring growth is delayed, irregular and slow. These factors extend the period of blooming, and thereby increase the possibility of frost injury.

On the other hand, extreme cold during winter dormancy may kill the fruit buds. Winter weather rarely threatens hardy apple, pear, plum and sour cherry varieties. Sweet cherry, however, is relatively sensitive to cold until it becomes dormant. Peach trees are very vulnerable to cold weather. Their buds can be killed by midwinter temperatures around 10°F.

As the fruit buds grow and open, they become more susceptible to injury from frost. The exposed buds can usually withstand temperatures near 24°F. However, the open blossoms of practically all fruit trees may be killed if the temperature drops below 27°F.

When a heavy frost is expected, covering the trees will sometimes prevent bud or blossom injury, provided temperatures do not fall too low and the cold weather is of short duration. Protective covering may be effective, and such things as cheesecloth and old bed sheets may be used.

During spring frosts, some commercial growers heat their orchards, but this method is impractical for most home gardeners. After a severe frost, injured blossoms may appear normal, but if the pistils (center part of the blossoms) are killed, the tree will not bear fruit.

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