Wow! What a change in the weather! Seems like we went from spring to the dog days of summer in just a few days. One weekend we had snow on our blossoms, and the next it was almost 80 degrees! I don’t know who was more confused, me or the fruit trees.
All of this warm weather has brought us to the point where we soon will begin peach thinning season. Let me explain. Peach trees love to bear fruit. I mean they really love to bear lots of fruit. So much fruit that if we would leave it all on the tree, it would break down. And barring a frost, they will do this every year. Not only that, but the peaches would end up being the size of golf balls when they were ready to pick. Not good for us, and not good for you! And the only way to remedy this situation is to remove some of the fruit. Where there can be up to a dozen fruits on a foot-long branch, we have to bring that down to 2 or 3. That means removing up to 80% of the peaches in some cases! While that sounds simple enough, it takes a long time on each tree and it is best done by hand. And therein lies the problem.
Two truths emerge when we begin peach thinning season. One: Peaches are very fuzzy. And two: No matter what the weather has been recently, the beginning of this job will bring on the most hot and humid weather of the early summer. And lest I forget, there will be no breeze anywhere near the orchard! Those two facts combine to make a tedious job downright miserable. Imagine a hot sweaty day combined with an abundance of itchy fuzz. The stuff is everywhere! It comes off and sticks to your hands, and it literally floats in the air around you as you work. I remember my dad always wearing a long sleeved shirt in the heat of June while thinning peaches. I wondered why, until I was old enough (or gullible enough) to join the peach thinning crew. I soon learned that when thinning peaches, you never touch or scratch or rub your skin anywhere with those fuzz-laden hands! Scratch your neck or arm and the stuff would drive you crazy for the rest of the day! And once you started itching it just got worse and worse. Imagine rolling around in some of that pink house insulation in your bathing suit on a hot summer day! Peach thinning is not for sissies.
So think of us in the next few weeks when the weather will get (inevitably) hot and sticky. And when you are slicing those big juicy peaches over ice cream in August, remember that getting them that way is not just a walk in the park. Its an itch in the orchard!
Hope you have a fruitful week!